One of the great features of living in the U.S. is the uniqueness of each state, and the freedom Americans enjoy in choosing, in many cases, to live in the state that suits their individual needs.
That goes double for Americans who are particularly prudent with their household budgets, and who opt to live in a state where the cost of living is relatively low, and where buying a home doesn't mean years of sacrificing a good quality of life in order to pay off an exorbitant home mortgage.
To each his or her own, right? The good news is there are plenty of U.S. states where home prices are low and where mortgage debt is a much smaller slice of the household budget than in high cost-of-living states.
Case in point. Experian, in its benchmark "State of Credit: 2017" Reporthas marked up the U.S. states where mortgage debt is highest and where mortgage debt is lowest, and the disparity is something to see.
For example, West Virginia tops the list of states where mortgage debt is lowest (at an average of $114,583.) Compare that figure to California, where Golden State residents hold, on average, $347,652 in mortgage debt.
While the quality of life is indeed in the eyes of the beholder, there's certainly something to be said for keeping mortgage debt as low as possible. For a variety of reasons, the following 17 states are the lowest for average home mortgages.
States with the Lowest Mortgage Debts
The Volunteer State holds a lower-than-average mortgage debt of $150,456 in 2017, compared to $145,017 in 2016. That figure easily keeps Tennessee in the lower tier of U.S. States when it comes to having low mortgage debt.
Bayou State homeowners have seen a whopping 30.65% hike in average mortgage debt from 2007 to 2017, but things seem to be leveling off. In 2017, the state's average mortgage debt stood at $149,294—only a small hike over 2016.
Homeowners in Maine hold, on average, $148,662 in household mortgage debt as of the end of 2017, up from $145,243. Taking a longer view, Maine, experienced a decrease in average mortgage debt (by -34.96%.) from 2007 to 2017. Compare that figure to its neighbor to the south, Massachusetts, where mortgage debt rose from $126,000 to $253,000 over the same time period.
Badger State residents also enjoy a relatively low average mortgage debt, of $142,993. That's only up from $141,403 in 2016, making Wisconsin one of the top-listed states in the lowest average mortgage debt movement from 2016 to 2017, at .81%.
At $140,963, Alabama is on the list of states with the lowest average mortgage debt in 2018, as listed by Experian. But with a rising average mortgage debt rate of 5.18% from 2016 to 2917, Alabama could be "roll-tide rolling" its way off the list next year.
Homeowners in Kansas have an average mortgage debt of $137,869, one of the lowest figures in the nation. But watch out, its average mortgage debt increase of over 11% from 2016 to 2017 could knock Kansas off this list in 2019.
The Show-Me State posts an average mortgage debt level of $137,723 and is thus sandwiched by neighbors Nebraska and Kansas on the Experian list. Ironically, all three states achieved the exact same rankings on the Experian list in 2017.
At an average of $136,882, Cornhusker State homeowners aren't saddled with budget-straining mortgage debt—yet. If 2017 is any indication, the state's mortgage debt average hike of 8.93% bears watching on next year's list.
Homeowners in Michigan can point to a long-term trend where average mortgage rates have been relatively low, over a long period of time. From 2007 to 2017, Michigan homeowners have, on average, seen their mortgage debt decline by 17.91%, second only to Maine.
The Boomer Sooner State is another locale where average mortgage rates have shot up over the long haul. From 2007 to 2017, Oklahoma saw its average mortgage rate figure skyrocket by 29.44%. Yet in 2017, the state's mortgage rate average locked in at a paltry $130,700, up only $2,881 from $127,819 in mortgage debt in 2016.
Iowa is also seeing low average mortgage rates—at an average of $130,242 in 2017. That's up slightly from 2016's figure—at $127,495.
The Buckeye State has one of the lowest mortgage debt figures in the U.S., at $129,106. With a low debt figure of $126,746 in 2016, Ohio remains in the exact same spot in Experian's rankings this year.
The Razorback State is also on the low end of U.S. states when it comes to low mortgage debt rates. At $126,481, Arkansas ranks in the "top five" lowest states for mortgage debt.
Kentucky moves down one slot in the Experian state-by-state mortgage rankings this year, which is a good thing when the list ranks average state mortgage debt from a highest to lowest model. Kentucky homeowners, on average, hold $126,446 in home mortgage debt.
The Hoosier State breaks into the "top three" listing of U.S. states with the lowest average mortgage debt, at $122,791. It held the exact same spot in 2017.
Mississippi ranks second on Experian's list of lowest mortgage owed across the U.S. On average, statewide homeowners only owe $120,301 on their homes.
1. West Virginia
The bell cow for U.S. states with the lowest mortgage debt, the Mountain State clocks in at a 50-state low of $114,583 in average mortgage debt. The needle has barely moved on the mortgage debt from for West Virginia homeowners, who held $113,436, on average, in mortgage debt the year before, according to Experian.
Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer or other company, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. All information, including rates and fees, are accurate as of the date of publication.
This article was originally published on May 30, 2018, and has been updated.