From its mild climate to the incredible food and craft beer scene, there are so many reasons why people love living in Mississippi. For one, the “Magnolia State” has some outstanding natural beauty. Many lakes, forests, beaches, and waterways offer endless opportunities for outdoor recreation.
The other great reason to consider Mississippi is the low cost of living. In almost every category, Mississippi is affordable. That’s when considering goods and services, childcare, and even the cost of higher education. Perhaps most importantly, real estate is supremely inexpensive. For median home values, Mississippi has one of the lowest in the nation.
Of course, those looking to move to Mississippi will want to choose the right community. There are plenty of places dotted around the state that will avoid some of its shortcomings. So we took a closer look at some of Mississippi’s best and most desirable communities. These are safe places with good access to amenities and quality education. If you’re looking to relocate to this southern gem of a state, consider our picks for the ten best places to live in Mississippi.
Table of Contents:
1. Oxford – Lafayette County
Although it has a dubious racial history dating back to the antebellum south, Oxford has become a lovely place in modern times. It has a diverse cultural scene, especially when it comes to music. The local musicians gain influence from Nashville, New Orleans, and Memphis, creating a unique landscape. Today, Oxford thrives due to its proximity to the University of Mississippi, commonly known as Ole Miss. It is home to 28,635 permanent residents.
Oxford has lower crime than the rest of the state; it is generally considered a quiet community. The schools are successful, as the local students go on to 2-and-4-year degrees at a far higher rate than the rest of Mississippi. Of course, buying real estate is also more challenging for people on a budget. Oxford’s median home costs around $207,900, which is still very reasonable by national standards.
Ole Miss ensures plenty of places to go and things to see in and around Oxford. The University’s museums and naturally protected spaces are popular with everyone in the region. Oxford also has a very quaint and historic town square. It has lots of character, beautiful architecture, and plenty of great dining establishments.
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2. Ocean Springs – Jackson County
Our list would be incomplete without a coastal community, and Ocean Springs is the pick. Located a short distance east of the more well-known Biloxi, Ocean Springs is nicknamed “The Gem of the Gulf Coast.” If you choose to join the 17,791 people who already live there, you’ll quickly find out why.
Of all the communities adjacent to the Gulf of Mexico in Mississippi, Ocean Springs is the safest, with the lowest crime rate. While the public schools are highly-rated, they’re hardly the reason people move to this town. Mostly, this is for people who wish to have homes by the seashore. Compared to oceanfront property in other areas, this town is downright affordable. The median home price is just $193,900.
The biggest draw of Ocean Springs is, of course, the beach. There are plenty of places to enjoy the sand and sun. You can also find a terrific selection of bars and restaurants along the waterfront. Live music dominates the scene too. You can find some musical acts playing in town most nights of the week. Shopping in the quaint downtown area is popular here too.
3. West Hattiesburg – Lamar County
The city of Hattiesburg is well-known throughout the south for having lots of fun attractions and things to do. However, some people may hesitate to buy property there due to a slightly elevated crime rate. That’s why West Hattiesburg is a great alternative. It’s a small, census-designated place, home to just 6,325, but living here can ensure access to the amenities and excitement of Hattiesburg while providing more security and safety.
Speaking of safety, West Hattiesburg crime is 27% lower on average than the rest of Mississippi. Like most other places on our list, it has highly-performing public schools and is considered excellent for families. Additionally, real estate is relatively affordable. While still higher than the state average, the median home costs $173,500.
Neighboring Hattiesburg has excellent healthcare facilities, but it has many things to do. West Hattiesburg residents have access to all kinds of fun, from museums to shopping and recreational activities.
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4. Madison – Madison County
By many measures, Madison is one of the most desirable places to live in Mississippi. The city was named for President James Madison. It flourished in the mid-1800s due to its central location as a railroad town. It sits about a 20-minute drive north of the state capital, Jackson. Today, 25,701 people reside there, an 8.8% increase from the 2020 census. There are plenty of reasons why.
According to Madison’s municipal website, it is the safest place to live in the state, the second most educated, and the most successful according to the economy and citizens’ salaries. Crime rates are 55% lower than the state average. The school system is highly-regarded, which is very important for families looking to move to Mississippi because it isn’t always the case statewide. The cost of living in Madison is a little higher than average, and real estate is especially pricy for Mississippi, with the median home valued at around $303,300.
Madison residents can find lots to keep themselves entertained, from beautiful golf courses, contemporary restaurants, and a popular and unique movie theater. That’s not to mention the exceptional public parks open for enjoying the Mississippi weather.
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5. Olive Branch – DeSoto County
Olive Branch is just about as close as you can get to Tennessee while residing in Mississippi, as it’s part of the Memphis Metropolitan Area. Due to this proximity, residents can enjoy a convenient quick trip to experience the excitement and culture of Memphis while still residing in a sparse suburban community. Olive Branch has 39,646 residents.
Most people own their homes in this rural town. The population tends to skew young, with many families and young professionals choosing to purchase property here. The median home value is $274,100. The unemployment rate is low, and the schools are successful. It is also relatively safe, especially compared to the crime rates of nearby Memphis. Overall, this is a very desirable town.
Olive Branch has an exciting history. The name was chosen because the town was able to avoid a lot of the violence and destruction that occurred throughout Mississippi during the Civil War. As a widely-known symbol of peace, the olive branch seemed an appropriate name. Due to its closeness to Memphis, Olive Branch also enjoyed a period as America’s fastest-growing city during the 1990s and early 2000s.
6. Clinton – Hinds County
Clinton’s history goes back about as far as Mississippi’s; it was incorporated as a town just five years after Mississippi gained statehood. It is also home to the oldest college in the state, the Christian-affiliated Mississippi College. The Clinton-Vicksburg railroad came just a few years later, spanning the town’s growth. Clinton is home to 23,873 people today.
Safety and security are paramount in this scenic town. The crime rate is 18% lower than the Mississippi average. It has a sparse suburban feel and is considered one of the best places in the state to raise a family. The schools are good, and the home prices are within reason, with the median home costing $187,300. It’s a young town, too, with a median age in the lower 30s.
Mississippi College is considered the best place in the state for a pre-med program. Aspiring doctors from the south should take a look here. Clinton also takes good care of its citizens, maintaining great public parks and a small business-friendly atmosphere.
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7. Petal – Forrest County
Along the banks of the beautiful Leaf River is where you’ll find the rural community of Petal. It’s technically part of the Hattiesburg Metropolitan Area. Still, it’s difficult to tell with this town’s natural landscape and serene surroundings. Petal’s population is 10,962.
Petal is another community with the advantage of access to all of Hattiesburg’s attractions without the congestion. It’s virtually crime-free, with rates that are 82% lower than the rest of Mississippi. The cost of living is not appreciably higher. Median real estate homes come in at around $157,000, quite a bargain for living near a city such as Hattiesburg.
Petal was long known as the largest unincorporated town in the United States. The reputation held throughout much of the 20th century. It wasn’t until 1974 that it could separate from the greater area of Hattiesburg and become its own autonomous city. Today, the people enjoy the quiet surroundings of farms, and the logging business thrives there too.
8. Brandon – Rankin County
Another suburb of the state capital, Jackson, Brandon is in an excellent central location. It is one of the best suburbs to buy property in Mississippi. It’s a city well-known for having many notable people come from it, including multiple popular athletes. Brandon is home to 24,396 residents.
Brandon’s crime rate is 65% lower than the state average, making it much safer than neighboring Jackson. It’s nice for the citizens to be able to stay out of the more dangerous parts of the city. The schools are highly rated, often scoring above average on state examinations, and many public school graduates earn higher education degrees. On average, a home in Brandon costs $221,400, making it a bit more expensive than the median throughout Mississippi.
There are many things to do in Brandon for individuals as well as families. The city maintains its own safari zoo, an amphitheater that hosts popular and nationally-known musical acts, and plenty of small businesses to frequent. One thing about the city that the residents appreciate is how it has maintained a focus on small-town charm, even as it has grown to nearly 25,000. City leadership runs festivals, balls, and parades at various intervals throughout the year to keep everyone involved in local pride.
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9. Gulf Hills – Jackson County
Gulf Hills is another community situated along the Mississippi coastline that delivers a high level of satisfaction for its residents. The census-designated place gets its name due to the unusually hilly terrain along the Gulf of Mexico. 8,387 people call Gulf Hills home.
With a 34% lower crime rate than the rest of Mississippi, Gulf Hills ensures its residents a feeling of security. It’s a suburban community, but it isn’t very densely populated, and most people who own their homes have plenty of space between themselves and their neighbors. Despite this advantage, the houses are reasonable. The median value is $179,800. Of course, the schools are good here too.
Gulf Hills has many restaurants, bars, and nightlife, particularly along the waterfront. Interestingly, the entire town was founded in 1927 and intended to function just as a resort. The central feature was a state-of-the-art golf club with boating and water activities nearby. The club still operates today.
Dothan is great for businesses with friendly tax codes and a central location. With a bustling artistic community, it’s also known as Alabama’s Mural City. And since a quarter of the United States peanut crop is produced in the area, Dothan has been nicknamed “The Peanut Capital of the World.”
10. Tupelo – Lee County
Tupelo rounds out our list as one of the northern Mississippi choices. It’s a nice place for people who like lots of things to do, as Tupelo is the state’s sixth-largest city. It’s home to 38,303 permanent residents. Still, it remains affordable and desirable.
Despite the size, Tupelo is able to keep crime rates down. Its rate is 10% lower than the Mississippi average. The overall cost of living is about on par with the rest of the state, which is relatively low. People looking to buy a home here can find average properties for around $141,000. It’s a bargain for such a desirable town.
Tupelo has some fascinating history attached to it. The city is the birthplace of Elvis Presley, and his home is now attached to a visitor’s center where fans can experience a small piece of his life. Tupelo also has some beautiful parks and museums, including a war veteran’s museum honoring some of Mississippi’s bravest who sacrificed for their country.
Mississippi is excellent for people who want to live in a warmer climate and enjoy the southern charm. It has beautiful beaches on the Gulf of Mexico. It has lakes and rivers for fishing, boating, swimming, and other outdoor activities. It has highly desirable communities where anyone can put down permanent roots.
While many tourists visit Mississippi yearly to experience the natural splendor and the culture, living here will pay dividends in the long run. Let our list of the ten best places in Mississippi guide your search, and you won’t regret it.
With a highly educated population, a business-friendly atmosphere, and a very high quality of life, it’s no surprise that Fayetteville will have something for everyone. From big-city amenities to quiet natural parks, there’s bound to be something exciting to do here for everyone, no matter what their preferences might be…