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27 February 2013

Lowest Cost of Living States -- OK the Best

The great state of Oklahoma is the lowest cost of living state in the union.  It barely edged out Tennessee for that prime spot.  As of the 4th quarter of 2012, the cost of living by state is indicated in this map provided by the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center.


The ranking is based upon data provided on cities and metropolitan areas on the cost of groceries, housing, utilities, transportation, health care, and a miscellaneous category.  Thus, it may not reflect the cost of living in the more rural areas of a given state.

It is worth noticing that the lowest cost of living states are all contiguous, with the exception of Idaho and Utah.  The contiguous block stretches from Ohio west to Nebraska, skipping Illinois, from West Virginia and west of the Applachian Mountains to Georgia, the only state on the Atlantic seacoast, and then west to Texas, skipping Louisiana.  The southern Great Plains states, the lower Midwest, the interior Southeast states, and the interior Mountain states are the best.

The most variable of the cost factors is the cost of housing.  In the 16 lowest cost of living states, housing is the cost with the lowest index rating.  In the 13 most expensive states and the District of Columbia, housing is the highest index value, with the exception of Alaska for which it is 2nd highest.  In Alaska the utilities index is the highest.  Housing costs are affected by the availability of land in relationship to the population.  They are affected by real estate taxes, policies to limit development and other land use controls, building codes, rent controls, contractor licensing requirements, labor and wage laws, and other cost of doing business factors.  In some areas they are also affected the extent of local federal, state, and local government ownership of land.

Utility costs are the second most variable cost.  These are a function of distance from such inexpensive and reliable resources as coal and natural gas or a lack of sufficient natural gas pipeline capacity.  Some states discourage coal electric plants or nuclear power plants.  They are also very much a function of state mandates for wind generation, solar power use, and biomass use for electricity.  In addition, many states like to attach special taxes to utility bills, especially those states so dominated by Progressive Elitists that they believe energy use is a sin.  Meanwhile, they require the consumer to subsidize so-called green energy ii obeisance to Gaia, so long as it is not in their backyard.  The worst states for utility costs are:

Alaska, index 168.4
Hawaii, index 167.7
New Jersey, index 133.9
Vermont, index 129.0
Rhode Island, index 127.3
New Hampshire, index 125.7
Delaware, index 122.8
Connecticut, index 121.0
Massachusetts, index 120.7

The third biggest variable cost is health care.  States dictate the kind and coverage of health insurance policies, restrict the building of new hospitals, license physicians and control the medical schools in their states, license pharmacists, optometrists, and registered nurses, and they meddle with regulations on x-ray equipment and other medical equipment by requiring often wasteful calibration, maintenance, and safety procedures on equipment they know nothing about.  States also have great impact on medical malpractice costs, Workman's Compensation insurance, and other medical liability costs in their courts.  The most expensive states for health care are:

Alaska, index 140.2
Connecticut, index 119.4
Massachusetts, index 119.0, home of RomneyCare
Hawaii, index 116.5
Rhode Island, index 116.3
Oregon, index 114.8
New Hampshire, index 114.2
Maine, index 113.4
Washington, index 112.9

The least expensive, and closely competitive, states in the overall ratings are:

Oklahoma, #1, index 90.5
Tennessee, #2, index 90.6
Kentucky, #3, index 91.0
Arkansas, #4, index 91.5
Indiana, #5, index 91.7
Kansas, #6, index 91.9
Texas, #7, index 92.0
Nebraska, #8, index 92.0
Idaho, #9, index 92.1
Missouri, #10, index 93.0
Alabama, #11, index 93.2
Utah, #12, index 93.2
Mississippi, #13, index 93.2
West Virginia, #14, index 93.3
Georgia, #15, index 93.7
Ohio, #16, index 93.9

The ignominious last fifteen states are not just last, but have been entirely lapped in the race:

Oregon, #37, index 107.0
Delaware, #38, index 108.2
Maine, #39, index 110.9
New Hampshire, #40, index 119.7
Vermont, #41, index 119.9
Massachusetts, #42, index 122.9
Maryland, #43, index 123.1
Rhode Island, #44, index 123.5
California, #45, index 125.6
New Jersey, #46, index 129.8
New York, #47, index 130.4
Connecticut, #48, index 132.7
Alaska, #49, index 134.5
District of Columbia, #50, index 144.8
Hawaii, #51, index 167.1

All of the 15 most expensive states have long been Democrat Socialist Party controlled with the exception of New Hampshire and Alaska.  Much of Alaska costs come from remoteness and the extreme weather.  New Hampshire while neither strongly Republican or Democrat does have a strong environmentalist factor contributing to high housing and utilities costs.  Government controls come with a big price tag which goes well beyond high taxes alone.  They are a major factor in the cost of living in that they raise of cost of many goods and services.

Favorite retirement states of Florida and Arizona fall in the undistinguished middle, but in the lower half of the states. Florida is #28 with an index of 99.0.  Arizona is a rather poor #35 with an index of 102.5.

The Oklahoma branch of my family is happily enjoying their lowest in the nation cost of living.  I, on the other hand, am most distressed by the cost of living in statist Maryland, ranked #43, with a skyhigh index of 123.1.  Earlier in life, I lived in 5 of the 16 best states and in 3 of the ignominious most expensive 8 states.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

you fail to take into account the household incomes of these states. if you do so, UT and VA would probably be the 'best'

4th qt 2012
CL - cost of living
CL - lowest - 01
CL - highest- 51
$^ - Income - highest - 01
*$ - Income - lowest - 01
INDX - cost of living index

[right to work state]

state CL / $^/*$ / INDX

[Ok]- 01 / 41/10 / 90.5
[TN]- 02 / 45/06 / 90.6
-KY - 03 / 47/04 / 91.5
[IN]- 05 / 31/20 / 91.7
[KS]- 06 / 26/25 / 91.9
[TX]- 07 / 25/26 / 92
[NE]- 08 / 22/29 / 92
-ID - 09 / 40/11 / 92.1
-MO - 10 / 36/15 / 93

-UT - 11 / 14/37 / 93.2
[AL]- 12 / 46/05 / 93.2
[MS]- 13 / 50/01 / 93.2
-WV - 14 / 49/02 / 93.3
[GA]- 15 / 33/18 / 93.7
-OH - 16 / 35/16 / 93.9
[IA]- 17 / 24/27 / 94.5
[NV]- 18 / 27/24 / 95.3
[MI]- 19 / 34/17 / 95.3
[LA]- 20 / 44/07 / 95.6
-WI - 21 / 21/30 / 95.8
[SC]- 22 / 42/09 / 96.1
[VA]- 23 / 07/44 / 96.3
[NC]- 24 / 39/12 / 96.3
-IL - 25 / 18/33 / 96.6

-NM - 26 / 43/08 / 97.4
[SD]- 27 / 28/23 / 98
[FL]- 28 / 37/14 / 99
[ND]- 29 / 20/31 / 100
-MT - 30 / 38/13 / 100.2
-CO - 31 / 15/36 / 100.6
-PA - 32 / 23/28 / 101.6
[WY]- 33 / 13/38 / 101.7
-MN - 34 / 11/40 / 102
-WA - 35 / 12/39 / 102.5
[AZ]- 36 / 30/21 / 102.5
-OR - 37 / 29/22 / 107
-DE - 38 / 09/42 / 108.2
-ME - 39 / 32/19 / 110.9
-NH - 40 / 06/45 / 119.7
-VT - 41 / 19/32 / 119.9

-MA - 42 / 05/46 / 122.9
-MD - 43 / 01/50 / 123.1
-RI - 44 / 17/34 / 123.5
-CA - 45 / 10/41 / 125.6
-NJ - 46 / 03/48 / 129.8
-NY - 47 / 16/35 / 130.4
-CT - 48 / 04/47 / 132.7
-AK - 49 / 02/49 / 134.5
-DC - 50 / 4+/45+ / 144.6
-HI - 51 / 08/43 / 167.1

Charles R. Anderson, Ph.D. said...

For some purposes it does make sense to measure the cost of living with respect to average income, but for many others it makes sense to measure it with respect to one's own personal income. It is true that this listing is just a lowest cost listing.

It is good to know that Utah and Virginia do well in the ratio of average income to cost of living.