17 Pros and Cons of Living in Mississippi

A digital image of the MS state flag. There are red, white, and blue stripes. In the top-left corner is an X resembling a confederate flag

In the following article, we will explore why nearly 3 million people call Mississippi home and provide some facts to think about as you consider moving to this state.

10 Benefits of Living in Mississippi – Pros

First, we’ll look at the positive aspects of Mississippi which might make you consider a move to this state.

1. Low Cost of Housing

Mississippi has the lowest cost of living of any state, driven by the fact the state has the lowest housing prices in all of America. The median home cost in Mississippi ($142K) is half the price of the national average ($291K). Mississippi also has one of the lowest average rent costs in the country at $780 per month, though 74% of the residents choose to buy a home and not rent.

Unfortunately, Mississippi also has the lowest average income of any state ($21K MS versus $28K national), and the lowest median household income of any state ($39K MS versus $53K national). Potential residents should secure a decent job before moving to the state, otherwise, even these low costs are going to be a burden.

2. Very Rural

If you enjoy living in the country, outside of cities, then Mississippi would be a good choice for you. Mississippi is the 4th most rural state in the country, with 97% of land in the state being rural. With 51% of its population being rural, it is one of only four states where the rural population outnumbers the urban population. As a result, the population density within Mississippi is only 63 per square mile, well under the national average of 93 per square mile. The state has only one city with over 100K people (Jackson) and only one city with over 50K people (Gulfport).

3. Deer Hunting 

With 97% of state land being rural, there is plenty of room for animals to roam in Mississippi. The state has 2 million acres of public forest land. If you enjoy hunting, this is a good state for you because Mississippi has been ranked as the #1 state for whitetail deer hunting in the country. Not only do hunters average a harvest of two male deer per year, but 74% of those bucks are mature 3+-year-old deer; which means they have reached maximum size and could possibly be a nice trophy deer. That is the highest percentage of mature bucks harvested in the country and Mississippi continues to produce trophy deer even as trophies in other states decline. The state is one of only four states where the number of male deer outnumber the number of hunters; for Mississippi, it’s a nearly 2:1 ratio. 

4. Gulf Coast Beaches

A photo of Biloxi Beach. White sand against blue waters. Tall buildings in the background.

In a state known for its millions of acres of forestland, it is easy to forget that Mississippi is a Gulf-coast state and has 62-miles of shoreline along the Gulf of Mexico. The beach towns of Gulfport, Biloxi, and Pascagoula offer beach lovers a less crowded experience than the more popular beaches of nearby Florida. Popular beaches along the Mississippi coast include Gulfport Beach, East Beach, Biloxi Beach, Bay St. Louis, and Pass Christian Beach.

The state’s best-rated beach, which has also been called “The Hidden-Jewel of Mississippi”, is West Ship Island, which is one of the barrier islands off the coast of Gulfport in the federal Gulf Islands National Seashore. The West Ship Island is only accessible via a one-hour boat ride, which can be taken on public ferries or private vessels. Once on the island, you will enjoy clear emerald waters and white sandy beaches, with little modern development and little crowd.

5. Close to Other Big Cities

While Mississippi lacks any major cities, its location puts residents within a two-hour drive to one or more out-of-state cities: Memphis (TN), New Orleans (LA), and Birmingham (AL). These large cities provide Mississippi residents with more options when they need a major hospital or are looking to attend a major recreation or sporting event.

6. Diversity

Since the 1950s, the state of Mississippi has seen a rising increase in diversity, especially along the Gulf coast. Today, nearly 40% of the state population is African American, giving Mississippi the highest percentage of African Americans in the country. In addition, the numbers of Hispanic and Asian residents are also increasing each year

With such a mixture of races, it is not surprising to see a similar mix in political affiliation, with 60% of the state voting Republican and 40% voting Democrat.

7. Low Opioid Deaths

Considering the rapid escalation of the Opioid Crisis in America, and considering the rampant poverty in Mississippi (Con #11), it is a little surprising to find Mississippi actually ranks as the 5th lowest state for opioid deaths per capita. The reason could lie in the fact that 72% of opioid deaths in America, and 85% of deaths in Mississippi, occur among the White population. Given Mississippi has the highest percentage of African Americans in the country, the state may be less susceptible to the Opioid Crisis.

8. Soul Food

A plate of soul food. Fired chicken, fried tomatoes, and collard greens

Move to Mississippi and you get to enjoy Southern comfort food every day. The state specializes in frying everything imaginable: fried steak, fried chicken, fried pork, fried green tomatoes, fried okra, and much more. Then you have the carb-heavy favorites: macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes and gravy, and cornbread. Or get the best of both worlds with some hushpuppies, which are fried carbs. They also like their vegetables, like collard greens and turnip greens, just as long as they have been buttered and salted to the max.

Also, don’t forget that Mississippi is a Gulf-coast state, so you have plenty of seafood to choose from. Fried catfish is a state specialty, along with fried shrimp. 

9. Affordable Colleges

Mississippi’s low cost of living also extends to post-secondary education, with the state being the 10th cheapest state for college. The state has eight public universities and 17 community colleges for residents to choose from. There are an additional ten private, mostly Christian colleges. 

Even though these colleges are plentiful and lower cost, Mississippi is second-worst in the country for the percent of people getting a bachelor’s degree (21%).

10. Very Religious

The strong presence of Christian colleges is due in part to the large number of Christian residents in the state. Mississippi is considered the most religious state in the country with 77% of residents being considered “highly religious”. If being in a strong faith-based community is important to you, then Mississippi deserves consideration. 

6 Drawbacks of Living in Mississippi – Cons

A photo of the muddy MS river. A steel bridge can be seen in the distance. Up close, there is the front section of a riverboat.

Unfortunately for Mississippi residents, their state is frequently ranked the worst state in the country to live in. We’ll now take a look at the areas where Mississippi is ranked poorly.

11. Poverty

Mississippi has the worst poverty rate in the country, with 21% of its residents living below the poverty line. This isn’t surprising considering Mississippi also has the lowest average income of any state ($21K MS versus $28K national), and the lowest median household income of any state ($39K MS versus $53K national).

It is interesting to note that even though their residents are significantly impoverished, the state still maintains the 15th highest tax burden in the country. 

12. Obesity

Perhaps not a surprise in a state known for frying every food imaginable (Pro #8), Mississippi is ranked the worst in the nation for obesity, with 40% of its population being reported as obese. The state also ranked dead last for exercising. Government studies have shown that Mississippi’s obesity problem is probably connected to its poverty problem (Con #11)

13. Poor Health Care

Mississippi is also ranked last in the nation for health care. The state scored poorly on access to care, health care quality, public health factors, health care cost, average emergency-room wait time, and life expectancy. Only four of Mississippi’s 112 hospitals scored high enough to even be considered in a national ranking (Two in Jackson, Tupelo, and Hattiesburg). 

14. Poor Life Expectancy

Considering the state suffers from poverty, obesity, and poor health care, it shouldn’t be a surprise to learn that Mississippi has the lowest life expectancy in the country at 75 years. 

15. Poor Public Schools

A photo of an old one-room school from the 1850s. About a dozen wooden desks on seen, with wooden floor and wooden walls.

Given the relationship between poverty and poor school performance, it is no surprise that Mississippi ranks as the 4th worst state for public education. It’s actually surprising the most impoverished state in the country is not dead last in schools. Perhaps this is because  Mississippi continues to invest dollars into education. The state is only the 5th worst in the country for spending per student.

16. Hurricanes and Tornados

We’ll finally move away from manmade to natural disasters. Mississippi’s location on the Gulf Coast makes the state susceptible to major hurricanes. The state has been hit with eight major hurricanes in modern times, making it the 4th most active hurricane state, behind Florida, Texas, and Louisiana. 

Mississippi also sits in one of the most active tornado areas, nicknamed Dixie Alley. The state is the 9th most active tornado state, averaging 50 tornadoes per year. In recent years, the tornados of Dixie Alley have proven to be more destructive than those of the infamous Tornado Alley.

17. Lack of Sports

We’ll end our list of Mississippi drawbacks with a less serious concern: Mississippi is lacking in the sports world and it ranks towards the bottom of the list for the best states to live in if you are a sports fan. The state has zero professional teams and two college teams, Ole Miss and Mississippi State. The two colleges have an entertaining rivalry with each other.

Is Mississippi a Good Place to Live?

An aerial photo of the Capitol building in Jackson, MS. The building is surrounded by green trees. Numerous tall buildings can be seen in the back.

Living in Mississippi is like stepping back in time to the 1950s or 60s. Life moves at a slower pace and revolves around God, family, and food. Maintaining a simpler life comes at the cost of worldly riches, which gives Mississippi the most poverty of any state in the country. With poverty comes challenges in education and health, putting Mississippi at the bottom of both aspects. 

The beaches along the Gulf Coast are beautiful, but Mississippi’s location puts it right in the bullseye of major hurricanes, and it’s only a matter of time before another Katrina hits.

For residents that secure gainful employment, the low cost of housing in Mississippi offers individuals a chance at the “American Dream”; a dream that may be out of reach for them in the more expensive states.

Mississippi is certainly a unique state, and ultimately, each individual must do their own research to determine if the state is a good fit for their lifestyle and goals.

What Does it Cost to Live in Mississippi?

Mississippi has the lowest cost of living of any state, driven by the fact the state has the lowest housing prices in all of America. The median home cost in Missi ($142K) is half the price of the national average ($291K). Mississippi also has one of the lowest average rent costs in the country at $780 per month, though 74% of the residents choose to buy a home and not rent.

Unfortunately, Mississippi also has the lowest average income of any state ($21K MS versus $28K national), and the lowest median household income of any state ($39K MS versus $53K national). 

Is Mississippi a Safe State?

The crime rates in the rural areas of Mississippi are quite low as the communities are small and close-knit.

In the urban areas, violent crime (18) is a bit below national averages (23), and property crime (40) is a bit above national averages (35)

97% of the land and 51% of the population are rural.

How Cold Does it Get in Mississippi?

The average low temperature in January is around freezing (32 degrees F). 

The best temperatures occur in April and October, ranging from 55-75 degrees. Winters can drop to freezing, and summers can get to 90 degrees. 

Mississippi is always wet and/or humid. The state averages 58 inches of rain per year versus the US average of 38 inches. Every month, the state gets about 9 days with rain.

Related: 25 Pros and Cons of Living in Alabama