15 Most Affordable States for the Middle Class

As cost of living expenses continue to remain high, many Americans that live in expensive states are considering moving to states where a middle class income can take them much further.

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To find the most affordable states for the middle class, GOBankingRates analyzed all 50 states across multiple factors — including average credit card balances, home values, monthly mortgage costs, car insurance rates and student loan payments — then found the annual income needed to be considered middle class by calculating debt payments as a maximum of 36% of income, as that is the upper threshold recommended by financial advisors.

In ascending order from 15th most affordable to number one, here are the 15 states where the middle class can experience an affordable cost of living.

The Milwaukee skyline sits behind the view of the Milwaukee River.

15. Wisconsin

  • High End of Middle Class Income: $72,458
  • Low End of Middle Class Income: $48,305
  • Total Debt Annual Cost: $29,035.10
  • Average Monthly Costs: $2,419.59
  • Annual Income Needed To Be Middle Class: $80,653.07

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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA downtown skyline from the Benjamin Franklin Bridge at twilight.

14. Pennsylvania

  • High End of Middle Class Income: $146,340
  • Low End of Middle Class Income: $48,780
  • Total Debt Annual Cost: $28,939.76
  • Average Monthly Costs: $2,411.65
  • Annual Income Needed To Be Middle Class: $80,388.22

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Chicago Skyline aerial view skyscrapers bythe beach , vintage colors.

13. Illinois

  • High End of Middle Class Income: $156,866
  • Low End of Middle Class Income: $52,289
  • Total Debt Annual Cost: $28,922.84
  • Average Monthly Costs: $2,410.24
  • Annual Income Needed To Be Middle Class: $80,341.21
St. Louis downtown skyline at twilight

12. Missouri

  • High End of Middle Class Income: $131,840
  • Low End of Middle Class Income: $43,947
  • Total Debt Annual Cost: $28,555.05
  • Average Monthly Costs: $2,379.59
  • Annual Income Needed To Be Middle Class: $79,319.58
Frankfort, Kentucky, USA town skyline on the Kentucky River at dusk.

11. Kentucky

  • High End of Middle Class Income: $120,366
  • Low End of Middle Class Income: $40,122
  • Total Debt Annual Cost: $28,354.41
  • Average Monthly Costs: $2,362.87
  • Annual Income Needed To Be Middle Class: $78,762.26

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Huntsville, Alabama, USA park and downtown cityscape at twilight.

10. Alabama

  • High End of Middle Class Income: $119,218
  • Low End of Middle Class Income: $39,739
  • Total Debt Annual Cost: $28,301.91
  • Average Monthly Costs: $2,358.49
  • Annual Income Needed To Be Middle Class: $78,616.41
Fargo is the most populous city in the state of North Dakota, accounting for over 15% of the state population.

9. North Dakota

  • High End of Middle Class Income: $147,918
  • Low End of Middle Class Income: $49,306
  • Total Debt Annual Cost: $28,263.16
  • Average Monthly Costs: $2,355.26
  • Annual Income Needed To Be Middle Class: $78,508.77
Wichita, Kansas, USA downtown skyline at dusk.

8. Kansas

  • High End of Middle Class Income: $139,494
  • Low End of Middle Class Income: $46,498
  • Total Debt Annual Cost: $28,160.94
  • Average Monthly Costs: $2,346.74
  • Annual Income Needed To Be Middle Class: $78,224.83

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Tulsa skyline with a park, pond, and fountains in the foreground.

7. Oklahoma

  • High End of Middle Class Income: $122,728
  • Low End of Middle Class Income: $40,909
  • Total Debt Annual Cost: $27,384.63
  • Average Monthly Costs: $2,282.05
  • Annual Income Needed To Be Middle Class: $76,068.43
Little Rock, Arkansas, USA skyline on the river at twilight.

6. Arkansas

  • High End of Middle Class Income: $112,670
  • Low End of Middle Class Income: $37,557
  • Total Debt Annual Cost: $27,299.93
  • Average Monthly Costs: $2,274.99
  • Annual Income Needed To Be Middle Class: $75,833.13
DES MOINES, IOWA - JULY 11, 2018: Des Moines, Iowa Skyline from the Pappajohn Sculpture Park.

5. Iowa

  • High End of Middle Class Income: $141,142
  • Low End of Middle Class Income: $47,047
  • Total Debt Annual Cost: $26,705.01
  • Average Monthly Costs: $2,225.42
  • Annual Income Needed To Be Middle Class: $74,180.57

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South Bend is a city in and the county seat of St.

4. Indiana

  • High End of Middle Class Income: $134,346
  • Low End of Middle Class Income: $44,782
  • Total Debt Annual Cost: $25,310.99
  • Average Monthly Costs: $2,109.25
  • Annual Income Needed To Be Middle Class: $70,308.31
Jackson, Mississippi, USA skyline over the Capitol Building.

3. Mississippi

  • High End of Middle Class Income: $105,970
  • Low End of Middle Class Income: $35,323
  • Total Debt Annual Cost: $24,924.40
  • Average Monthly Costs: $2,077.03
  • Annual Income Needed To Be Middle Class: $69,234.45
Akron, Ohio, USA downtown skyline at dusk.

2. Ohio

  • High End of Middle Class Income: $133,980
  • Low End of Middle Class Income: $44,660
  • Total Debt Annual Cost: $24,410.21
  • Average Monthly Costs: $2,034.18
  • Annual Income Needed To Be Middle Class: $67,806.15

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Charleston, West Virginia, USA skyline on the Kanawha River at dusk.

1. West Virginia

  • High End of Middle Class Income: $110,434
  • Low End of Middle Class Income: $36,811
  • Total Debt Annual Cost: $22,703.48
  • Average Monthly Costs: $1,891.96
  • Annual Income Needed To Be Middle Class: $63,065.24

Heather Taylor contributed to the reporting for this article.

Methodology: In order to find the states with the most affordable states for middle class, GOBankingRates analyzed all 50 states across multiple factors including; [1] average credit card balance by state sourced from LendingTree and multiplied by 1% to find the minimum credit card payments as 1% is the typical minimum payments required for most major credit card companies, [2] average single family residence home value for December 2023 as sourced from Zillow Home Value Index and using 10% as the down payment and using the [3] Federal Reserve Economic Data for 30-year national average mortgage the average monthly mortgage costs can be calculated, [4] average car insurance rates by state and recording the minimum payment required as sourced from CarInsurance.com, the [5] average student loan payments by state as sourced from LendEDU, and [6] median home income as sourced from the US Census American Community Survey. The monthly debt costs were summed and multiplied by 12 to find the annual total cost of debts. GOBankingRates then found the annual income needed to be considered middle class by calculating debt payments as a maximum of 36% of income, as that is the upper threshold recommended by financial advisors. All data was collected and is up-to-date as-of February 15th, 2024.

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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: 15 Most Affordable States for the Middle Class

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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