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America’s cheapest states to live in 2016

Best values in the U.S.A.

Katrina Wittkamp | Getty Images

One way for companies to attract qualified workers is to offer them a place where it doesn't cost an arm and a leg to live. That's why Cost of Living is one of our categories of competitiveness, worth a possible 75 points toward a state's overall Top States score. You can see the 2016 Top States rankings and learn more about our methodology here.

Click ahead to see America's cheapest states to live in, along with average prices for some basic items in the most expensive areas in each state. The higher the rank, the cheaper the state. Price data based on 2015 Annual Average Cost of Living Index by the Council for Community and Economic Research, C2ER.

Full coverage of Top States 2016

10. Michigan

A customer puts gas in his car at a BP gas station in Romulus, Michigan.
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Michiganders have a long-standing love affair with their cars. This is, after all, the home of the Motor City, where filling up your pride and joy with regular gasoline costs, on average, just $2.44 a gallon last year. And as long as you're going out, could you pick up a loaf of bread on your way home? It'll cost you only $1.12.

2016 Cost of Living score: 62 out of 75 points
Average home price (Grand Rapids): $243,878
Half gallon of milk: $1.85
T-bone steak: $11.52
Monthly energy bill: $159.83
Doctor visit: $95.33

9. Ohio

Ohio State Buckeyes fans play a game of cornhole in a parking lot outside Ohio Stadium.
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Ohioans are all about basketball these days, jubilant that their Cleveland Cavaliers have finally clinched the NBA championship title after 52 years, but another game they are wild about is Cornhole. It involves tossing a beanbag at a hole in a raised wooden platform and hoping you can get the bag to land in the hole more times than your opponent can. Maybe you play that game where you live, too, but in Cleveland there are actual amateur Cornhole leagues. The game has nothing to do with actual corn, but a pound of frozen corn in Cleveland will set you back just $1.50.

2016 Cost of Living score: 63 out of 75 points
Average home price (Akron): $377,533
Half gallon of milk: $2.74
T-bone steak: $10.20
Monthly energy bill: $150.98
Doctor visit: $85.13

8. Indiana

'Captain Hoosier' gets Indiana University basketball fans excited while they stand in line waiting to get in the arena.
Steve Raymer | Reuters

Everyone knows that a Hoosier is a native of Indiana, but no one in Indiana can seem to agree on what the word Hoosier means. Theories range from the mundane — a Native American word for corn — to the bizarre: the phrase one utters when finding a torn-off ear on the floor after an intense barroom brawl ( "Whose ear?"). Let's go with that one, and note that a six-pack of Heineken in the Who's Ear state will cost you just $8.42.

2016 Cost of Living score: 65 out of 75 points
Average home price (Evansville): $262,150
Half gallon of milk: $1.66
T-bone steak: $11.51
Monthly energy bill: $182.62
Doctor visit: $90.56

7. Idaho

Rasento | Getty Images

Every wonder what a five-pound sack of potatoes might cost in the state where they probably came from? In Boise, you'll pay about $1.73. Heck, a bag of potato chips will cost you more than that, at around $2.57. Want a burger to go with your chips — or your sack of potatoes? They're practically giving them away in Boise at $3.72.

2016 Cost of Living score: 66 out of 75 points
Average home price (Boise): $258,125
Half gallon of milk: $1.76
T-bone steak: $9.95
Monthly energy bill: $140.44
Doctor visit: $128.96

6. Oklahoma

Bricktown Canal near downtown Oklahoma City.
Don Klump | Getty Images

The electric guitar was invented in 1935 by musician Bob Dunn in Beggs, Oklahoma, south of Tulsa. No, there is no truth to the rumor that he chose Oklahoma because electricity is so cheap — but it is to this day. The average electric bill is around $81.22 a month.

2016 Cost of Living score: 68 out of 75 points
Average home price (Lawton): $306,244
Half gallon of milk: $2.33
T-bone steak: $9.65
Monthly energy bill: $145.25
Doctor visit: $120.64

5. Tennessee

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Famous native Dolly Parton was born in Sevierville, about 10 minutes away from her theme park, Dollywood, in Pigeon Forge. It's a fair bet that a big star like Dolly has a personal hairstylist, but if you don't, you can still get a woman's trim and blow-dry in the singer-songwriter's home state for as little as $22.

2016 Cost of Living score: 69 out of 75 points
Average home price (Chattanooga): $288,621
Half gallon of milk: $2.24
T-bone steak: $12.06
Monthly energy bill: $156.36
Doctor visit: $119.42

4. Alabama

Members of the Alabama colorguard perform prior to the start of the game during the All State Sugar Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 1, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Chris Graythen | Getty Images

None of the members of the band Lynyrd Skynyrd, who wrote the Southern rock anthem "Sweet Home Alabama," called Alabama home, but the song sure is sweet.

Speaking of sweet, a pound of sugar will cost you as little as $2.07. That will leave you plenty of money to buy a tube of toothpaste for $1.95 so you can avoid an unscheduled visit to the dentist, which is nonetheless a bargain at about $70.83. (Pictured here: Members of the Alabama color guard performing at the All State Sugar Bowl)

2016 Cost of Living score: 71 out of 75 points
Average home price (Montgomery): $275,856
Half gallon of milk: $2.46
T-bone steak: $10.88
Monthly energy bill: $181.58
Doctor visit: $78.67

3. Arkansas

Alex Raths | Getty Images

The University of Arkansas mascot is a Razorback, which is another name for a feral pig. Feral pigs are domesticated pigs — farm animals — that escaped and are living as wild animals. Razorbacks and their descendants are a huge problem not just in Arkansas but across the South. Finding affordable pork sausage in Arkansas is not a problem, though. Expect to pay around $3.63 for a 16-ounce package.

2016 Cost of Living score: 71 out of 75 points
Average home price (Little Rock): $288,017
Half gallon of milk: $2.01
T-bone steak: $11.26
Monthly energy bill: $161.16
Doctor visit: $92.83

2. Kentucky

A bucket of KFC Extra Crispy fried chicken.
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Colonel Harland Sanders was not actually a military colonel. He served just three months, mostly in Cuba. He was, however, a Kentucky colonel — an honorary title bestowed by the governor to individuals for their public service and their work for the advancement of Kentucky. It was his restaurant successes that earned him the title. He was not from Kentucky, however. He was born in Indiana. No matter. Two pieces of chicken at a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant in Kentucky can be yours for as little as $1.21.

2016 Cost of Living score: 74 out of 75 points
Average home price (Bowling Green): $262,942
Half gallon of milk: $2.41
T-bone steak: $12.02
Monthly energy bill: $196.97
Doctor visit: $93.22

1. Mississippi

Biedenham Museum of Coca-Cola in Vicksburg, Mississippi.
Jeff Greenberg | UIG | Coca-Cola

For the first 30 years after Dr. John Stith Pemberton invented Coca-Cola in Atlanta in 1866, it was sold only at soda fountains. It wasn't until John Biederharn of Vicksburg, Mississippi, decided to bottle the refreshing drink that it became an international sensation. The first bottling of Coca-Cola occurred at the Biedenharn Candy Company in Vicksburg. Today, in the home of the first Coca-Cola bottler, you can pick up a two-liter bottle for just $1.44. (Pictured here: The Biedenham Museum of Coca-Cola in Vicksburg, Mississippi)

2016 Cost of Living score: 75 out of 75 points
Average home price (Jackson): $236,935
Half gallon of milk: $2.24
T-bone steak: $10.58
Monthly energy bill: $133.24
Doctor visit: $96.18