ST. LOUIS — Among U.S. states, Missouri had the fifth-lowest cost of living in 2019, according to recent data from the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC). For the past 12 quarters, Missouri has been among the 10 most affordable states.
To calculate a cost of living index for each state, MERIC averaged city and metropolitan area data from the Council for Community & Economic Research. Each index is a value that compares to 100, the U.S. baseline. Missouri's index of 88.5 means the state's cost of living is 11.5% less than the base value.
Each index is a composite of six separate indices in the categories of grocery, housing, utilities, transportation, health care and miscellaneous goods and services. All of Missouri's category indices are in the 90s except housing, which at 70.6 is one of the lowest values in the nation. Hawaii has the highest housing index (328.9), as well as the highest overall cost of living index.
Below, we've broken states into categories based on their composite cost of living indices.
115 or higher
Eleven states, plus the District of Columbia, have cost of living indices above 115. Hawaii has the highest cost of living (191.8), followed by Washington, D.C. (159). The states with the next-highest costs of living are California and New York.
While only 17 U.S. states have higher costs of living than the national average, larger disparities between states exist on this end of the spectrum. Hawaii’s cost of living index is a whopping 54.1 points higher than California’s, which is 21.1 points higher than the index for Maine, the least expensive state in the “115 or higher” bracket.
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