So, you’ve heard a lot about America’s richest places, but what about the other end of the spectrum?
Let’s talk about the places where folks are pinching pennies, especially along the coast. Believe it or not, depending on how you see it, these could actually be the most affordable beach counties around—especially if you can work from anywhere.
The average household in the U.S. had a yearly income of $74,580 last year. But in these coastal counties, most families are making less than half of that. It’s a different side of American life, and it’s worth taking a closer look.
- 1. Liberty County, Florida – $35,816
- 2. DeSoto County, Florida – $35,817
- 3. Greene County, Mississippi – $36,110.60
- 4. Zapata County, Texas – $36,275.86
- 5. Walker County, Texas – $36,336.60
- 6. Glades County, Florida – $36,395.51
- 7. Dixie County, Florida – $36,835.40
- 8. Hidalgo County, Texas – $37,619.91
- 9. Issaquena County, Mississippi – $37,968.10
- 10. Starr County, Texas – $38,038.66
- 11. Taylor County, Florida – $38,299.53
- How We Calculated Median Household Income
1. Liberty County, Florida – $35,816
Liberty County in Florida is a pretty chill place to live. With about $35,816 as the average family income, it’s not where you’ll find big mansions or expensive stores. But that’s what some people love about it.
The area has a relaxed feel, local stores you can walk to, and plenty of natural spots like forests. And, you’re in Florida, so a beach is never too far away. If you can work from anywhere and want a simpler, budget-friendly life near the ocean, this place could be just right for you.
2. DeSoto County, Florida – $35,817
DeSoto County is a spot in Florida where life is budget-friendly. One reason it’s so affordable is its focus on agriculture and small businesses, rather than high-tech or financial sectors. This helps to keep the cost of essentials like food and housing more manageable. The area isn’t overwhelmed with tourists, so local prices stay pretty stable year-round.
3. Greene County, Mississippi – $36,110.60
If you’re in Greene County, you’re probably familiar with the small town vibes of Leakesville, the county seat. The cost of living here is low, thanks in part to a focus on agriculture and local commerce. For a slice of natural beauty, folks head to the Chickasawhay Wildlife Management Area to enjoy fishing, hiking, and bird-watching.
4. Zapata County, Texas – $36,275.86
Zapata, the county seat, is the heart of this area. While not flush with high-paying jobs, the cost of living here remains reasonable. Outdoor enthusiasts find solace at Falcon State Park, where they can fish, boat, or simply enjoy the great outdoors. The county’s location near the U.S.-Mexico border also gives it a rich cultural mix.
5. Walker County, Texas – $36,336.60
Home to Huntsville, this county keeps life affordable with a mix of small businesses and education-centered jobs, particularly with Sam Houston State University in the area. Huntsville State Park offers a breath of fresh air with activities like camping and paddle boating. The region also prides itself on its history, showcased at the Texas Prison Museum.
6. Glades County, Florida – $36,395.51
Glades County is the epitome of old Florida charm. Moore Haven, the county seat, serves as a quaint nucleus for a community closely tied to farming, particularly sugarcane and citrus. The modest incomes here reflect a slower, more laid-back way of life. You can lose yourself in the beauty of Lake Okeechobee, a renowned fishing destination, or take a scenic drive along the Ortona Locks.
7. Dixie County, Florida – $36,835.40
When you set foot in Dixie County, you’ll find Cross City as its hub. The county’s income levels are low, partly because it relies on industries like timber and small-scale fishing. But what it lacks in financial opulence, it gains in natural splendor. Dixie Mainline and the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge are some of the top places for nature walks, bird-watching, and kayaking.
8. Hidalgo County, Texas – $37,619.91
This border county, with McAllen as its bustling center, is often perceived as a place of contrasts. Though the median income is low, the spirit of enterprise is high, especially with local businesses offering a range of goods and services. Natural attractions like the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge provide opportunities for eco-tourism. Despite its financial challenges, Hidalgo County has a youthful energy and a rich blend of cultures that make it a fascinating place to live.
9. Issaquena County, Mississippi – $37,968.10
Nestled along the Mississippi River, Issaquena County is one of those sleepy spots where time seems to stand still. The small population leans into agriculture and hunting for their income, which explains the lower-than-average earnings. Mayersville, the county seat, is the sort of place where everyone knows your name. While there’s not a lot of commercial buzz, the natural allure of the river offers some serene spots for fishing and boating.
10. Starr County, Texas – $38,038.66
Rio Grande City calls the shots in Starr County. It’s a place where the local economy largely relies on agriculture and border trade. It’s less flashy than other parts of Texas, but its natural attractions like Falcon State Park offer excellent fishing and camping options. With its lower income level, Starr County shows that living the dream doesn’t have to cost a fortune, especially when the dream includes warm sunsets over the Rio Grande.
11. Taylor County, Florida – $38,299.53
Perry, the heartbeat of Taylor County, is a straightforward, no-fuss kind of place. Here, the forest industry and a smattering of manufacturing jobs set the economic pace. The Gulf of Mexico offers not only a stunning backdrop but also a playground for fishing, scalloping, and all kinds of water activities. The cost of living is low, partly because life here is more about the natural joys than the material ones.
How We Calculated Median Household Income
To provide the most accurate and up-to-date information, we began with the last official data from Census Bureau, published in 2021. Here’s a rundown of those figures for each county:
- Liberty County, Florida: $32,872
- DeSoto County, Florida: $32,873
- Greene County, Mississippi: $33,133
- Zapata County, Texas: $33,288
- Walker County, Texas: $33,345
- Glades County, Florida: $33,401
- Dixie County, Florida: $33,813
- Hidalgo County, Texas: $34,503
- Issaquena County, Mississippi: $34,832
- Starr County, Texas: $34,933
- Taylor County, Florida: $35,156
From there, we adjusted these figures to reflect the official salary increase data. Salaries across the board grew by 4.2 percent in 2022, and a further increase of 4.6 percent is forecasted for 2023. By incorporating these growth rates, we arrived at the current median household incomes for each county, giving you a more up-to-date snapshot of economic conditions in these areas.
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David Bakke is a personal finance expert and the published author of the book ‘Don’t Be A Mule.’ Specializing in money management, investing, retirement, income generation, and entrepreneurship, he earned his Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing from the University of South Florida. David started his own blog, YourFinances101, in 2009. His writing has been featured in Investopedia, Business Insider, US News, and Money Crashers.