A Guide to Buying a House in: Mississippi

(Because you worked so hard to learn how to spell it in grade school)
Jackson, Mississippi, downtown skyline

So, you've been pondering buying a house in Mississippi, but all you really know about the state is that it was the birthplace of "The King", Elvis Presley, and virtually nothing about the housing market there. That's just fine, because we've actually taken the effort to compile this little guide to help you out.

That's right, we've hit on all things housing market in The Magnolia State (bingo: one of their nicknames) to help get you prepped for your mission. It's exactly the kind of thing we'd want to read, were we in your shoes. There's even a bonus portion of some fun state trivia. So, let's get down to it.

The Most/Least Expensive Cities in Mississippi

Of course, picking the state where you'll buy your house isn't the end of the battle - you'll eventually have to narrow it down to a specific city. While this can be a biiig time and energy-hogging monster of a decision, it can seriously help to know the areas of the state that are the most/least money-hungry. Luckily for you we compiled a list of just that. Get ready.

Most expensive cities:

  • Diamond Head
  • Long Beach
  • Natchez
  • Biloxi
  • Ocean Springs 

Least expensive cities:

  • Crystal Springs
  • Forest
  • Waynesboro
  • Brookhaven
  • Laurel 

And there it is. Now you're set to embark on your house-hunting journey, with your financial sitch at the forefront of your busy mind. Not a bad way to start. No matter where you choose to buy your new home, you can find affordable home insurance within our trusted network.

Mississippi's Housing Market

Before you start shopping for new curtains for your house in Mississippi, you might wanna know a little bit about their housing market. So just for you, we've got an overview, coming right up. 

Well, currently, it's both a buyer's AND seller's game as far as Mississippi's housing market is concerned. Inventory is a bit on the low side right now, so home prices ARE rising - but slowly. So you'll wanna buy soon, especially because interest rates are also on the rise - and reaching the highest they've been in years. 

A 30-year fixed loan is now up to as much as 5% interest. Supply should start to increase soon, which is a good thing. The market overall was ranked as a 3.2/10 by Zillow, which is "less healthy" - but still, you should be able to find yourself a good place.


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Where to Hunt in Mississippi

But where exactly is THE place to move in Mississippi? Madison's currently all the rage - its population has increased 30% in the last five years. It's got a low crime rate  and a good number of jobs, it's close to the Jackson metropolitan area, it has a small-town atmosphere, good eats and an active arts/culture scene, AND it's good for families. 

Home values in Madison average $257,500. The price per square foot for a house is about $141, and renting a house costs about $1,725/month. Homes are listed on the market for about $339,950.

Hold up, though - Mississippi's got some new construction underway, too (though not a whole heck of a lot). There's some development happening in the northwestern corner, near Olive Branch, but the most of it's progressing in the south, near Hattiesburg and Biloxi. So, if you've got your heart set on a brand-new place, hit up one of these areas.

Home Property Values and Costs in Mississippi

Great, so now you've got a clearer picture of WHERE to look for your house, but it might help even more to know how much the thing's gonna COST. So, we'll move right along to an overview of some home prices/values, just for you.

For starters, the median home value in Mississippi is currently $123,200. Values appreciated 6.5% during 2018, and are expected to rise another 6% in the upcoming year. The price per square foot is about $92. Homes are currently listed on the market for an average of $182,000, and renting a house will cost you about $1,152/month.

Alright, onto our apartment hunters. Here's a list of some average monthly rental prices in a few Mississippi cities:

  • Olive Branch - $941
  • Ridgeland - $875
  • Jackson - $779
  • Lynchburg - $773
  • Flowood - $1,017

And townhouse folks, you're up next. The range in monthly rent starts low at about $400/month for a one-bed/one-bath place, and caps off around $2,500/month for a three-bed/three-bath place.

Pick up Some Hurricane Insurance in Mississippi

Mississippi's got a great music scene and some seriously tasty soul food, but it's also got its fair share of hurricanes to deal with. In fact, the deadliest hurricane in US history - the Great Galveston Hurricane of 1900 - dealt out some serious damage to the Mississippi coast. Not cool. But that being said, maybe it's not surprising that Mississippi's one of those 19 lucky states that require a hurricane deductible as a part of a homeowners insurance policy.

But what does that mean, exactly? Well, basically you'll have to pay your insurance company a certain amount of money before they'll cover any damage to your home dealt out by an angry windstorm. Deductible costs are typically about 1%-5% of the insurance value of the home, but it really depends on where you live, too. 

For example, those living in low-risk areas in smaller/cheaper houses might pay $300 towards their deductible, while those living in high-risk areas in fancy mansions might pay $30,000.

No one likes hurricanes (or paying more insurance deductible costs), but if you're REALLY concerned about them, you could always move to a state away from the coast. Areas further inland have a buffer of protection, but they also come with their own breed of risks. Nowhere's gonna be immune to EVERYTHING.


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Quality of Schools in Mississippi

Folks who wanna get their learnin' on after making their move might be interested in the quality of the school system in their new state - so next up we've got a peek at an overview, Mississippi-style.

Here are some 2018 WalletHub stats about how Mississippi schools ranked in the country:

  • #45 overall for the US
  • #45 for quality 
  • #43 for safety
  • #5 for the lowest reading test scores
  • #5 for the lowest median ACT scores
  • #3 for the highest percentage of threatened/injured high schoolers 

The top-rated schools in Mississippi are Ocean Springs High, in Ocean Springs, and Mississippi State University, in the town of Mississippi State.

Reasons to Move to Mississippi (...or not)

Alright, serious stuff over, time to move onto the (somewhat) more fun section of our guide. Let's check out why people would even WANT to move to Mississippi - but let's hear it from people who already live here. So, stay tuned for some yay!s and ugh!s of Mississippi life.

PROs (as voted by USDA-approved Mississippians):

  • Affordable education: Higher education in Mississippi is pretty affordable. In both 2017 and 2018, the average cost of college tuition for in-state residents was just $4,624. Bookworms, rejoice.
  • Low cost of living: The state was ranked as the cheapest state to live in, in 2018, by CNBC. The overall cost of living index, as ranked by bestplaces.net, was 88 (with the national average being 100). Housing, groceries, utilities and transportation were all categories that ranked cheaper than the national average. Wanna save some dough? Move to Mississippi.
  • Food: Locals here don't just listen to soul music - they eat plenty of soul food, too. Biscuits and gravy, collard greens, okra, catfish and cornbread are some Mississippi diet staples. You might need to add some time to your regular workout routine after moving here, but it's worth it to keep your palate satisfied. 

CONs (also from the mouths of USDA-approved Mississippians):

  • Health care: At the end of 2017, Mississippi's healthcare services ranked last in the nation for the second year in a row, in the United Health Foundation's study. Some factors weighing into the ranking were access, affordability and quality of the health care provided in the state, and sadly Mississippi came up last for all three.
  • Quality of education: Just 22% of adults in Mississippi hold a bachelor's degree or higher, which is well below the national average of 33.4%. Additionally, Mississippi ranked in the bottom 10 states for quality and safety in their school system, and in the bottom five for reading and math test scores.
  • Economy: Mississippi has the lowest median household income in the country, as well as the highest poverty rate as of the end 2017, according to mississippitoday.org. Its current unemployment rate is 4.7%, which is a bit above the national average of 4.0%. All just things to consider before making a big move.

Stuff to Do in Mississippi

Alright, so now we know a bit about WHY someone might wanna move to Mississippi, but WHAT will they do, once they get here? We asked the locals to talk to us for just a bit longer, to dish out the inside scoop on some fun stuff to do - from museums to festivals and more.

Here just a few of the state's most enticing attractions:

  • Vicksburg National Military Park: History buffs will love this memorial to the Battle of Vicksburg, which took place during the Civil War. The 20-mile strip of land houses the original trenches where the infamous battle was fought in 1863. You can almost hear the battle cries.
  • Elvis Presley Birthplace and Museum: Also nestled in the little town of Tupelo is a house that many music fans would consider to be of THE most pivotal importance to all of music history - the birthplace of Elvis Presley. The museum allows you to tour his childhood home and learn about the early years of his life.You're sure to leave feeling inspired - and with more than one song stuck in your head.
  • Ship Island: Located 11-ish miles off the coast of Mississippi, this island rests in the Gulf of Mexico and is part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore. There's all kinds of fun to be had here, including beaches, private cruises, fireworks displays over the holidays and dolphin watches. Grab that sunscreen now.
  • The Mississippi Museum of Natural Science: Found inside LeFleur's Bluff State Park in Jackson, this museum spans 300 acres and 2.5 miles of hiking trails. It's also got a 100,000-gallon aquarium with more than 200 species of creatures. Mississippi's largest museum houses a wall of fossils and multiple endangered species exhibits. It's a great place for explorin' and animal watchin'.
  • Prairie Arts Festival: Named one of the "top ten events in the south", this festival's been held in West Point annually for 38 years now. This one-day event features arts, crafts, cooking, cars, music and other traditional southern delights. It's actually one of the largest arts and crafts festivals in the country - with more than 600 exhibits. That's pretty impressive.

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Rockin' Your Way Down to Mississippi

Alright folks, there you have it - our liner notes version of a guide to Mississippi's housing market and home buying stats. Clearly we're not going to be able to cover EVERYTHING you might be concerned about before making such a huge decision (we're busy trying out some new soul food recipes), but it's our hope that we've given you enough to fire up the inspiration/confidence you need to get started, and that you learned a thing or two about The Hospitality State (like their other nickname, for ex.).

If buying your next house where Elvis Presley was born is your personal fantasy, then get out there and make it happen. Make sure your new house is covered properly with an affordable home insurance policy.

Good luck.

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