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Mississippi, which gets its name from the Ojibwe word for “Great River,” is a soulful state in the Deep South. It’s filled with rich culture & history, great outdoors, amazing music, comforting soul food, Southern hospitality, and much more. Add to the pot an extremely low cost of living and that classic leisurely pace of life, and it’s easy to fall in love with the Southern charm of the Magnolia State.
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Living in Mississippi: What to Know Before Moving to Mississippi
Pointing toward the Eagle State? If so, you should consider a few facts before heading to America’s 31st largest state by size (51,180 square miles) and the 25th largest state by population (4.65 million).
Pros and Cons of Living in MississippiPros: Low cost of living: With a cost of living index of only 81, you can enjoy living expenses (including housing costs) that are at least 15–20% less expensive than the United States average. A slower pace of life: Simple living is the name of the game here, you. With low population density and less congestion, Mississippians take life easy and savor the sweet things. Comfort food: Man, where do we start? From fried catfish to po’boys to biscuits & gravy to collard greens to cornbread to okra to gumbo, there’s a soul dish waiting to lift your spirit. Southern hospitality: Looking to escape the cold and impolite nature of your current surroundings? Experience the warm and comforting embrace of Mississippi’s charm! Cons: Hurricanes and tornadoes: Mississippi consistently ranks in the Top 10 states most prone to natural disasters, like storms and twisters. Also, summer is intensely hot and steamy. Weak Economy: With the lowest median income in the nation (along with high poverty rates, lack of jobs, and food insecurity), the state doesn’t offer great economic opportunity. Low quality of education: Though there are some great deals on higher education, K–12 schooling is ranked almost at the bottom (along with the 13th worst funding in the US). Poor healthcare: Rated from questionable to utterly dismal, health care isn’t exactly stellar here. The state, however, is taking great strides to offer affordable and accessible options. Resistant to change: In general, folks around here stick to the ways they know best. Progress is a slow process. Weird laws: There are wacky statutes on the books, you. For instance, it’s a $100 fine for swearing in public. Also, a private citizen can arrest someone for disturbing church service.
Is Mississippi a Good State to Live In?
Mississippi is a wonderful place because of its Southern hospitality, delicious comfort food, and affordable educational opportunities. The Magnolia State is home to over 50 colleges, universities, and technical schools that give residents a host of options for pursuing higher education. And of course, the state’s Southern delicacies, like fried chicken and homemade biscuits, make Mississippi cuisine feel like you’re getting a warm hug with every bite.
Tax RatesProperty Tax: 0.80%. The effective real-estate tax rate is #18 in the US. Sales Tax: Mississippi’s base state sales tax rate is currently 7%. Income Tax: The state has three income tax rates: 3%, 4%, and 5%.
To Rent or Buy? Overall, it is a cheaper option to rent rather than buy a home in Mississippi. The median monthly mortgage payment is $1,105, while the median monthly rent is $740. The difference between the two boils down to $365 per month or $4,380 per year. Regardless, homeownership is still very affordable.Median Home Value: $126,500 Median Rental Expense: $663 (1BR), $808 (2BR) Cheapest Places to Live in Mississippi: Aberdeen Clarksdale Ripley Philadelphia Pontotoc Booneville Diamondhead Laurel Byram Horn Lake
Cost of Living
According to the Cost of Living in Mississippi by BestPlaces, Mississippi has a cost of living index of 81.1. This index is much lower than the national average of 100.
Using EPI’s Family Budget Calculator, we can compare the average monthly costs in three Mississippi cities. We’ll use a family of four (2 adults + 2 kids) for these examples.Biloxi/Gulfport Metro Area: Housing = $771 Food = $768 Childcare = $650 Transportation = $1,077 Healthcare = $1,161 Other necessities = $621 Taxes = $665 Grand total = $5,713 per month or $68,552 per year Hattiesburg Metro Area: Housing = $790 Food = $758 Childcare = $636 Transportation = $1,105 Healthcare = $1,160 Other necessities = $625 Taxes = $674 Grand total = $5,748 per month or $68,973 per year Jackson Metro Area: Housing = $880 Food = $801 Childcare = $680 Transportation = $1,173 Healthcare = $1,134 Other necessities = $678 Taxes = $756 Grand total = $6,101 per month or $73,209 per year
Weather & Natural Disasters
Bordered by Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama, and the Gulf of Mexico, Mississippi has a humid subtropical climate. This results in long, hot, and steamy summers and short, mild winters. The running joke: Mississippi has the summer season, hunting season, football season, and hurricane season.
As for seasonal temperatures, the state of Mississippi sees an average of over 80°F in July and 40–45°F in January. The northern region tends to be cooler than the southern part of the southern state. Most of the time, it’s either extremely hot & humid or rainy (though wintertime can be agreeable, save a lot of precipitation). Just be sure to pack light linen and cotton clothing if you move here!Climate Statistics: Average rainfall – 57 inches Average snowfall – 1 inch Sunshine – 216 sunny days Summer high – 91°F (July) Winter low – 33°F (January)
Mississippi experiences several types of natural threats & risks, including an average of about 27 tornadoes annually. Throughout the years, it has ranked as one of the Top 10 states most prone to natural disasters. To be prepared, we suggest you check out these resources: The Disaster Center Mississippi Page, Natural Disaster Preparedness Page, and the Hazard Mitigation Page.Natural Disaster – Threats & Risks: Tornadoes Hurricanes Flooding Earthquakes Severe Storms
Economy & Job Market
According to Economy Rankings by US News & World Report, Mississippi is currently ranked #48 in the United States. This score is based on three subcategories: business environment (#49), employment (#46), and growth (#50). Its GDP is approximately $109 billion, and the median income is $23,121.Top Industries: Manufacturing Real Estate Educational Services Retail Trade Professional & Business Services Wholesale Trade Finance & Insurance Entertainment, Recreation & Accommodation Transportation & Warehousing Constructi~ above Top Employers: Sta-Home Health & Hospice (Jackson, 17,000 employees) Sanderson Farms (Laurel, 13,200+ employees) Commerce Bancorp LLC (Greenwood, 12,700 employees) Greek Orthodox Church of Holy (Biloxi, 7,500 employees) Island View Casino Resort (Gulfport, 7,300 employees) Ameristar Casino Vicksburg (Vicksburg, 7,200 employees) The Yates Companies Inc. (Philadelphia, 7,000 employees) Mississippi State University (Mississippi State, 5,740 employees) NMMC (Tupelo, 5,600+ employees) University of Mississippi Medical Center (Jackson, 4,200 employees) BancorpSouth (Tupelo, 4,000 employees) Cal-Maine Foods (Jackson, 3,500+ employees) RPM Pizza (Gulfport, 3,500 employees) The University of Southern Mississippi (Hattiesburg, 3,500 employees) Hancock Whitney (Gulfport, 3,430 employees) Tenix Holdings Inc. (Biloxi, 3,270 employees) Beau Rivage Casino (Biloxi, 3,100+ employees) Delta Regional Medical Center (Greeneville, 3,000 employees) South Central Regional Medical Center (Laurel, 3,000 employees) Baptist Medical Clinics (Jackson, 3,000 employees) Looking for work in Mississippi? Here are some handy resources: Find Local Movers
Traffic and Transportation
As far as traveling the state of Mississippi, it’s virtually required to have a vehicle. The state doesn’t offer a whole lot of public transportation between areas (or even in towns and cities). Despite Mississippi being largely rural, it still offers several options for getting around.Major Forms of Transportation: Air (including Jackson-Evers International Airport) Bus & Motorcoach (local transit and Greyhound) Roads (including six major interstate highways) Rail (Amtrak offers three main lines) Ferry (including Ship Island Ferry) Ridesharing (Lyft, Uber, etc.) Taxi & Limo Services Car Rentals Primary Interstate Highways: Interstate 10: At 77 miles long, I-10 the second shortest section of interstate highway in Mississippi. It travels in a west-east fashion from the Louisiana state line to the Alabama state line. Interstate 20: This major thoroughfare serves Central Mississippi. I-20 runs from the Louisiana state line near Vicksburg (more specifically, Vicksburg Bridge) to the Alabama state line by Kewanee. Interstate 22: Running the length of 106 miles, I-22 goes west-east from US 78/I-269 in Byhalia (Marshall County) to I-22 at Alabama state line east of Tremont (Itawamba County). Interstate 55: This is the longest interstate highway in the state. At more than 290 miles long, I-55 travels from the Louisiana state line by Osyka to the Alabama state line close to Southaven. Interstate 59: As a primary south-north route, I-59 spans 169 miles through the Magnolia State. It runs south-north from the Louisiana state line near Nicholson to the Alabama state line near Kewanee. Interstate 69: I-69 is the shortest section of interstate highway in Mississippi (a little over 23 miles long). It goes from MS 304/MS 713 just east of Banks to I-55 north of Hernando.
According to Best and Worst States to Drive In by WalletHub, Mississippi comes in at #31 in the country. This ranking is based on four subcategories: cost of ownership & maintenance (#23), traffic & infrastructure (#12), safety (#42), and access to vehicles & maintenance (#37).
Things to DoTourist Destinations:
The Magnolia State is home to rich American history and natural attractions.Gulf Islands National Seashore: Stretching from Santa Rosa Island in Florida to Cat Island in Mississippi, this national treasure is home to white-sand beaches, maritime forests, and coastal marshes. B.B. King Museum & Delta Interpretive Center: The museum celebrates the legendary bluesman, B.B. King, as well as the rich history of blues as an artform and influence. Tupelo Automobile Museum: Home to a pristine and historical collection of 150 vehicles, the museum got the nod as the official automobile museum of Mississippi in 2003. Mississippi Museum of Natural Science: This facility explores Mississippi’s abundant wildlife and habitats (including an extensive fossil collection). Institute for Marine Mammal Studies: Home to an interactive museum and large research center, the institute offers dolphin presentations, touch pools, and tropical animal shows. Food & Drink:
The Hospitality State is a foodie’s paradise! Here are the top picks:Top All-You-Can-Eat: Palace Buffet (Biloxi) Top Bar: The Upstairs Bar at City Grocery (Oxford) Top Beer: Devil’s Harvest Breakfast IPA, Southern Prohibition Brewing (Hattiesburg) Top Brunch: City Grocery (Oxford) Top Burger: Fine & Dandy (Jackson) Top Farmers Market: Mississippi Farmers Market (Jackson) Top Chocolate Shop: Nandy’s Candy (Jackson) Top Coffee Shop: Sneaky Beans (Jackson) Top Donuts: The TatoNut Shop (Ocean Springs) Top Food Truck: One Guy Steak and Chicken (Brandon) State Parks:
Want to explore Mississippi’s natural beauty? Consider these popular state parks:Paul B. Johnson State Park: This smaller park offers a gorgeous lake, deep forests, many activities, cabins, a campground, and convenient RV hookups. Located in Hattiesburg. Buccaneer State Park: Situated on the sandy shores of the Gulf of Mexico (about 50 miles from New Orleans), this park in Waveland is a very popular year-round destination. LaFleur’s Bluff State Park: You’ll find this lush green, 305-acre getaway in the heart of Jackson, MS. Offers fishing, camping, picnicking, hiking, and much more. Tishomingo State Park: Featuring camping, disc golf, and one of the top canoeing spots in the country, this park in Tishomingo also offers many hiking trails and historic sites. Tombigbee State Park: The public recreation area in Tupelo is home to a small yet wonderful camping area and hiking trails, along with a frisbee golf course in the woods. Museums:
There are great museums in Mississippi. Here are the must-see ones:Mississippi Civil Rights Museum: Tribute to the history of the Civil Rights movement. Walter Anderson Museum of Art: This Ocean Springs attraction features art that explores the connection between man and nature. Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Art: Great spot to start touring the birthplace of blues. Lynn Meadows Discovery Center: Located in Gulfport, this center offers children hours of hands-on fun and exploration with activities ranging from ascending the Super Colossal Climbing Structure to playing vet, to letting their imaginations run wild at the Tree House Village. Mississippi Children’s Museum: An ode to young imagination and the joy of learning, this top-rated museum is in Jackson, MS. Cool & Unusual:
Looking for something different in Mississippi? Check out:Windsor Ruins: Lost to a fire in 1890 – possibly ignited by a guest’s cigar – the Corinthian columns are all that stand of this formerly grand mansion, located in Clairborne County. The Mississippi River Basin Model: Built by German and Italian prisoners of war back in the 1940s, this is the largest small-scale model in the world, depicting the MS river basin. Birthplace of Kermit the Frog: Like the Muppets? Love a certain friendly, green frog? This museum in Leland stands as a tribute to the most adored creation by Jim Henson. Rowan Oak: As the former home of American writer William Faulkner and his wife, this Greek Revival home served as the location where he wrote many of his acclaimed gothic tales. Elvis Presley Birthplace: Last but certainly not least, we end this list of recommendations with the two-room shack in Tupelo where the King of Rock and Roll was born back in 1935.
Schools and Universities
Ranked #48 among states with the best schools, Mississippi has the 13th lowest public-school funding in the country (at $9,885 per student). It also has the 17th lowest high-school graduation rate at 82.3%. As for higher education, the state is home to mainly small to midsize colleges and universities.Top MS Colleges: University of Mississippi (Oxford) Mississippi State University (Mississippi State) Millsaps College (Jackson) William Carey University (Hattiesburg) Rust College (Holly Springs) Blue Mountain College (Blue Mountain) Mississippi University for Women (Columbus) Belhaven University (Jackson) Delta State University (Cleveland) Alcorn State University (Lorman) Top MS Public School Districts: Petal School District (Petal) Oxford School District (Oxford) Ocean Springs School District (Ocean Springs) Clinton Public School District (Clinton) Madison County School District (Ridgeland) Gulfport School District (Gulfport) Biloxi Public School District (Biloxi) Pass Christian Public School District (Pass Christian) Tupelo Public School District (Tupelo) Lamar County School District (Purvis)
How to Become a Mississippi Resident
Establishing Mississippi residency is important for tax purposes and establishing financial aid/in-state tuition eligibility at the University of Mississippi and other colleges and universities. Be sure to check individual residency requirements as criteria can differ from school to school.
To become an official resident of Mississippi, you must have domicile in the state. This requirement means that you permanently live here and spend most of your time here. For tuition purposes, a student must live in MS for a continuous period of 12 months or longer. To further show proof of intent to live here permanently, it’s crucial to get a driver’s license/ID, title & register a vehicle, and register to vote here.Get Moving Quotes
Moving to Mississippi DMVAcquiring a new driver’s license:
After moving to the state, a new resident who drives has 60 days to get an MS driver’s license.
Steps to getting a new license:Move to Mississippi Collect required documents: valid out-of-state driver’s license, original social security card (or valid immigration papers & passport, permanent resident card, or I-94 & passport), two proofs of residency (electric bill, bank statement, etc.) Complete application Pass the vision exam If a license is 30+ days expired, you must pass the computerized exam Surrender your out-of-state driver’s license Have your picture taken Pay the applicable fees Wait for new license to arrive by mail (about a week)
Note: Starting October 2020, residents of Mississippi will be required to carry and present a REAL ID to board a commercial flight in the United States.Vehicle registration:
New MS residents must transfer the title and registration of out-of-state vehicles within 30 days.
First, gather the following: original out-of-state title, bill of sale, odometer disclosure statement (if not found on title), and proof of insurance. If leased, also collect lien holder info. Next, visit your local county tax collector’s office (must be registered in your county). Complete the MS title & registration form, present required documents, and be prepared to pay applicable taxes and fees.To qualify to vote, you must be: A citizen of the United States 18 years or older on election day A Mississippi resident for 30+ days Not barred due to a felony conviction Not declared mentally incompetent by a courns
The state of Mississippi does not currently allow online voter registration, early voting, or no-excuse absentee voting. To register, a prospective voter can either register by mail or in person at a local Circuit Clerk’s Office or other state/federal government agencies (must be a resident for at least 30 days to apply for registration). Voters in Mississippi are required to present valid photo ID at the polls.
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Felons in Mississippi, convicted of certain types of felonies, are disqualified from voting. Those convicted of non-disenfranchising felonies regain their voting rights upon completion of sentence. Those with disqualifying felonies may regain voting rights by receiving a pardon from the governor.