The State With the Best Cost of Living
By Jennifer Leigh Parker, Special to CNBC.com
NEW YORK (CNBC) -- Everyday expenses have a direct effect on the price of doing business, which is why we rank the Cost of Living for each state in CNBC's Top States for Business.
So where would a business find a state with a reasonable cost of living? Our survey results show states with the best bang for your buck are in the South.
Kentucky tops our list with 50 out of the 50-point total for this category.
Moving up from 3rd place last year, the state boasts the lowest costs in the nation for groceries and healthcare, with extremely competitive costs for housing, transportation and utilities -- all three part of the basic criteria used for this ranking.
More from CNBC
States With the Highest Cost of Living
Homes of Governors
America's Top States for Business 2011
As for the most expensive states, we've got some repeat offenders: Hawaii (50/49), Alaska(49/47), and California (48/49) each ranked as the bottom three last year. Compare the cost of the American Dream: to drive the kids to school from your single-family home in, say, San Jose, Calif., the median price will set you back $545,000 as of the first quarter of 2011, and $4.09 a gallon for gas, according to a recent spot check on gasbuddy.com. In contrast, residents of Louisville, Ky., pay a median $125,000 for their home, while the trip to school costs only $3.85 per gallon. However, that old rule still applies: you get what you pay for. The top states in this category also happen to be the lowest ranking in the Quality of Life category, and vice versa. The state coping with the biggest increase in costs is South Dakota (26/5). There, costs are relatively high for health care, but those for housing and utilities have risen as well. But higher costs parallel higher quality, as South Dakota broke into the top five rankings for Quality of Life. Purchasing Power
Regardless of the rankings, the impact of inflation can be felt across all states. For example, the price of gasoline has jumped with the volatile price of crude oil. Consumers in Nashville, Tenn., have seen gas prices jump 42% since this time last year, while Honolulu residents are paying only 15.3% more for gas than a year ago. CNBC
Select the service that is right for you!COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.
- $2.5+ million portfolio
- Large-cap and dividend focus
- Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
- Weekly roundups
Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.
- Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
- Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
- A custom stock screener
- Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.
- Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
- Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
- Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.
- Real Money + Doug Kass + 15 more Wall Street Pros
- Intraday commentary & news
- Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.
- 100+ monthly options trading ideas
- Actionable options commentary & news
- Real-time trading community
- Options TV