The nation’s lowest cost of living, miles of beautiful beaches, and plenty of tasty soul food mean there’s a lot to love about Mississippi. But a high poverty rate, bad healthcare, and poor infrastructure can make living in the Magnolia State less desirable.
Whether you’re looking to escape increasingly cold and dangerous winters or you’d just like to spend a bit less on recurring expenses (including
car insurance), you may have considered a move to Mississippi. But before you pack up to head south, you should know there’s a lot that can be pretty inhospitable in the so-called Hospitality State.
Pro: The lowest cost of living in the nation
Mississippians enjoy the lowest cost of living in the U.S. Compared to the rest of the country, Mississippi’s 83.3% cost-of-living index means expenses in the Magnolia State are about 17% cheaper than anywhere else in the country.
Along with the low cost of living, Mississippi enjoys the cheapest housing costs in the nation. The average price of a single-family home is just $140,818, and the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment is an affordable $777. That’s 66% of the national average for housing costs!
But the savings don’t stop there—transportation costs in Mississippi are the lowest in the U.S. at just 86.7% of the national average. Not only are Mississippi’s gas prices often among the cheapest, but Mississippi drivers are also only required to carry
liability coverage to drive legally. This helps make the cost of car insurance in Mississippi lower than in many other states.
And we’re not finished! Mississippi is also one of the least expensive states for childcare, as well, making it a haven for working parents.
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Pro: Affordable education
Speaking of parents and kids… education in general—but especially higher education—tends to be one of the most expensive ventures for many families. Luckily, if you’re a student looking for a solid deal or a parent hoping to save money on tuition, the Magnolia State has you covered.
At less than $10,000 for a full year of classes, Mississippi is consistently ranked in the top five to seven lowest-cost states in the country for higher education.
Pro: Southern comfort food
Mississippi is known for some of the tastiest food on the Gulf Coast. Even better, the state’s low cost of living means you can probably afford to eat at some of the fanciest restaurants in the area!
If you’re looking for a little history with your meal, head to
Mary Mahoney’s Old French House in
Biloxi. Order local favorites like fried green tomatoes topped with crab, which is served up in the dining room of one of the oldest homes in the country.
If you’re in the mood for something a bit less high-brow (but no less tasty),
Bozo’s Seafood Market and Deli in
Pascagoula has some of the state’s most famous po’ boys, which it’s been serving for over 60 years.
Looking for Southern barbecue? Head to
The Shed in
Ocean Springs. The Shed has been featured on shows like Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives for good reason. If you’re in the state’s north end, never fear—you can get your ‘cue fix at the
Neon Pig Tupelo.
No matter where you stop for a bite, you can’t go wrong if you stick with Mississippi specialties like gulf shrimp, oysters, catfish, and good old Southern fried chicken and biscuits.
Pro: Intense natural beauty
If you can handle the sticky Southern heat, Mississippi has some of the most beautiful scenery in the country—but you have to do some hiking to see a lot of it. While most locals and visitors tend to gravitate toward
Gulf Islands National Seashore and the miles of pristine beaches stretching along the southern shore, the Magnolia State has a lot more to offer than just sun and sand.
If history is more up your alley, check out the many hikeable sections of the “Old Trace,” stretching from the north down to
Natchez. These pieces of the Natchez Trace were traveled by so many traders, missioners, and settlers over the years that many sections are still literally etched into the landscape.
Pro: Southern hospitality
We’ve all heard of it, but not many of us have truly gotten to experience Southern hospitality. In fact, Mississippi isn’t only called the Magnolia State—it’s often referred to as the Hospitality State.
If you’re looking for a place where the people are known for a mix of politeness, kindness, and charm, then Mississippi is your place.
Pro: Lots of rural countrysides
One of the things folks love most about Mississippi is the scarcity of urban areas.
Jackson is the only city in the state with more than 100,000 residents. The next most populous city is
Gulfport with just over 50K inhabitants.
More than 50% of Mississippi’s population lives in rural areas. In fact, Mississippi is the fourth-most rural state in the country with 97% of its land being classified as such.
This means MS enjoys some of the lowest population densities in the nation. The state averages a population density of just 63 inhabitants per square mile—far below the national average of 93 per square mile.
Now that we’ve covered many of the benefits of living in the Magnolia State, it’s time to look at the downsides.
As you might expect, one of Mississippi’s major pros is actually kept in place by its biggest con. The cost of living remains low in Mississippi because it kind of has to—the state also has the worst poverty rate in the country.
The living wage for a family of four in Mississippi is just $80,523 a year. Sounds great, right? Unfortunately, the median income for a family of four is just $70,656. This discrepancy between need and actual wages leads to over 20% of Mississippians living at or below the poverty line.
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Con: Low-quality healthcare
Alongside its high poverty level, Mississippi is also ranked as having the worst healthcare in the nation. Whether you’re looking at access to healthcare, healthcare quality, public health factors, healthcare cost, average emergency room wait times, or life expectancy, Mississippi ranks last in all categories.
Further complicating matters is one of the state’s beloved features—comfort food. If you can eat it, Mississippians are going to fry it. While this leads to some of the best meals you’ll ever taste, the fact that Mississippi ranks dead last in the nation for exercising means it also ranks highest in the nation for obesity.
Con: Extreme weather
Economic and health issues in Mississippi are largely manmade, but the state suffers from its share of natural disasters, as well. Let’s start with the most obvious—hurricanes. Located on the Gulf Coast, Mississippi is the fourth-most active hurricane state.
As if hurricanes aren’t enough, MS also sits at the southern edge of what’s become known as Dixie Alley—the Southern equivalent of the Midwest’s Tornado Alley. Mississippi is the ninth-most active state in the U.S. for tornadoes, averaging about 50 severe storms each year.
Though you may never have heard of Dixie Alley, it’s sure to become as regular a part of your vocabulary as “sir” and “ma’am” upon relocating here. The storms in Dixie Alley states, like Mississippi,
Alabama, are quickly becoming some of the most powerful and destructive in the nation.
Con: Fewer sports-entertainment opportunities
If you’re a sports fan, you’re not likely to be a fan of Mississippi. No professional sports teams call Mississippi home, but there’s still hope if you’re a college football fan. Ole Miss (The University of Mississippi) and Mississippi State both host popular football teams.
But if college sports isn’t your bag, you’re out of luck in the Magnolia State.
Con: Poor infrastructure
It probably goes without saying, but in the state with the highest poverty levels and the lowest cost of living, you’ll also find some of the worst infrastructure. When it comes to the quality of transportation, energy, and the internet, Mississippi ranks third-worst in the nation.
Only Rhode Island and West Virginia are ranked more poorly than Mississippi for infrastructure—and not by much.
Is Mississippi a good state to live in?
Mississippi regularly makes lists of the best states to live because of its low cost of living. But rampant economic concerns find the area more often topping lists of the worst places to live in the U.S.
So, whether Mississippi is a good state to live in for you really depends on what you find most important. Mississippi is a great state for:
Soul food and seafood devotees
Fans of a rural lifestyle
However, if you’re worried about severe storms and economic issues or you suffer from a chronic health condition, you may want to bypass the Hospitality State.
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