If you ask around, most people will probably tell you that the United States is going to hell in a hand basket. The federal government recently blundered its way through a partial shutdown, congressional leaders used (and will probably use again in the future) the debt ceiling as a political bargaining chip, and overall economic confidence as measured by Gallup has not yet regained its pre-shutdown levels, let alone turned positive (that is, a majority of people believe the current economic situation is bad and getting worse).
It’s times like these that make people seriously start considering their personal financial stability. Overall savings are still well below recommended levels, the job market is anemic, and everywhere, the cost of living is edging ever higher. Inflation — or its evil twin, deflation — as measured by the consumer price or personal consumption expenditures index is typically the primary gauge that people use to determine if the prices of things they buy are changing. These indexes track the overall change in prices paid by consumers for the goods and services they consume in day-to-day life, and they have recently been moving up fairly slowly — about 1.5 percent over the past 12-month period.
But national averages mask regional price differences, and within the U.S., differences between and even within states can be staggering. Based on regional economic differences, the cost of living can vary greatly from place to place. So if you’re looking for a change of scenery and are thinking about moving somewhere a dollar can go further than where you are now, here are some of the least expensive places to live in the country.