If You Value Cheap Gas, Move To The Middle Of The Country

As gas prices continue to rise, it’s easier to get jealous of locales that offer cheaper rates. Due to a variety of reasons, including demand, easier access to infrastructure and lower gas taxes, certain cities consistently sport lower pump prices. And most of those tend to be located in the central part of the U.S.

GasBuddy keeps a running list of gas prices around the country. The cheapest city for gas was Tulsa, Okla. ($3.53), followed by Fargo, N.D. ($3.56), Billings, Mont. ($3.57) and Amarillo, Texas ($3.60).

Chicago bucks the trend by leading the nation in gas prices at $4.56, while California cities taking up 12 of the next 13 spots, with Honolulu, Hawaii the lone exception.

If you’re considering a move, you should factor cost of living into the equation when you’re figuring out how far your salary will go. All things being equal, cheaper gas is as good a reason as any to choose a specific locale.

USA City Averages [GasBuddy via MSN]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Cat says:

    I’m going 2000 miles cross country this June/July. I’m praying for prices to drop before then. Or at least stop going up.

    I hate you, you speculating bastards.

    • Remarkable Melba Kramer says:

      I hate speculators also. Someone farts in the middleast and we see the price of oil go up.

      I guess I am lucky to live in the midwest where gas and the cost of living is reasonable.

      Also, I won’t vote for any politician that claims they can do something about the price of oil.

    • Cat says:

      Crap, I forgot to add that 2000 miles is ONE WAY. R/T is 4,000+, with the wife and 2 kids in a Corolla. Last time we made a trip that long we drove the van – and gas was under $2

      Feel my pain.

      • Sparkstalker says:

        I think a 4000 mile round trip with kids in the car would be the bigger pain. Sure, you’ll get bent over at the pump, but at least you’ll be out of the car…

    • fs2k2isfun says:

      You may want to consider flying instead. Good chance its cheaper once you factor in hotels, food, oil changes, tires, and all those other great hidden costs of driving a car.

      • Cat says:

        cheapest r/t ticket:
        ~$500 x 4 = $2000 plus car rental
        Gas for Corolla = under $500

        That leaves me $500 to deal with lodging and food (Hey, we ain’t staying at any fancy hotels) and I’ll have $1000 left over.

        Yeah, I’m a cheap bastard.

        • formatc says:

          There’s also tires, engine oil, and other fluids, not to mention general wear and tear. Using the IRS reference of $0.51 per mile, you should consider your total cost to be over $1000. Still cheaper than the plane tickets up front, but much higher cost if something goes wrong with the car and you get stranded.

    • mindaika says:

      Yes, gas prices are the fault of speculators, and not the fault of people who drive back and forth across the country, increasing demand.

      • Cat says:

        I haven’t made that trip in 8 years. I haven’t had a vacation in three. My kids have never met their aging grandparents. And I’m pretty sure it’s a wash as far as the fuel used in my car vs. fuel used in an airplane.

        But yes, you’re absolutely right. We should all just stay right at home and never leave. Never, for any reason.

      • Marlin says:

        Demand for gas in the US has been going down for a while. We export a lot of gas now.

        *pesky facts

      • Cor Aquilonis says:

        You just missed a golden opportunity to Blame-A-Politician(TM) for not increasing supply. Are you new around here?


    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDave‚Ñ¢ says:

      Thank you for not saying that because gas went up $0.50 a gallon, you couldn’t afford to go on vacation this year. Nothing irks me more than the idiots who say that. So because the cost of your gas went up $50, you need to cancel your whole vacation. The amount of money that could be saved by not going out for dinner one night is the difference between a family vacation and staying at home.

  2. CharlesFarley says:

    Illinois gas tax:

    State excise tax : $0.19 / gal
    Cook County tax : $0.06 / gal
    City of Chicago Tax : $0.05 / gal to a retailer doing business in the city – passed along in the pump price
    Sales tax : 6.5% added to the pump price

    • Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

      So you pay a guaranteed 30 cents on the gallon on top of the price of gas, plus the tax?

      • CharlesFarley says:

        Yes. As the base price of gas goes up, that extra 6.5% kicks you in the rump that much more.

    • Rebecca K-S says:

      Is the tax on top of the pump price a new(ish) thing? I never paid that when I lived there.

      • Rebecca K-S says:

        Oh, this was about Illinois as a whole. That’s definitely inaccurate – just cross referenced several logged fillups (price per gallon and total gallons purchased) with the credit card statements (total price only), and it’s definitely exactly gallon price * number of gallons. No additional tax on top.

    • Cat says:

      here’s a USA gas tax map.

      “Well, I think I’m gonna re-route my trip,
      I wonder if anybody’d think I’d flipped,
      If I went to LA
      Via Oklahoma.”

      • dosdelon says:

        Probably not, since the hotels would probably be cheaper too.

      • bhr says:

        It’s Omaha, but I do get the song reference.

        • Cat says:

          Gas is cheaper in Oklahoma than Nebraska.

          • bhr says:

            But Oklahoma isn’t really “out of the way” and completely kills the whole “think I flipped” part of the song. In fact, driving from most of the south to LA would take you through Oklahoma already, whereas Omaha is way out of the way..

            And that is the most time anyone has spent discussing any CDB song on this site.

    • cosmic.charlie says:

      Let’s not forget that people in the Chicago area are required to buy boutique fuels. This effectively results in a federally mandated monopoly and drives up prices.

      • CharlesFarley says:

        Yup, summer blend comes on line next week.

        and those numbers are only state and local, not federal.

    • Bodger says:

      So you are saying that taxes make up only a small portion of the price of fuel in Chicago? I knew that already. If you want to see taxes, try driving in Denmark…

  3. JohnDeere says:

    3.69 most places in mid tn

    • Bodger says:

      When I left my Mom’s place in western PA early on Monday morning the nearest stations were $3.95 to $3.99. Two miles away across the river it was $3.77 for regular which the Subaru drinks. Since I was stopping for a couple of donuts and a cup of coffee in Charleroi anyway it was serendipitous. All the way down through West Virginia, Virginia, and Tennessee it was quite predictable — prices got lower as I went toward home except in the more remote areas in WV and on the WV Turnpike where the prices spiked madly because there was no competition. As you say, I just filled up and regular was $3.69 as it seems to be in the more competitive places in E-TN. Sadly I just had to fill up the Miata which wants mid-grade or better at $3.81.

    • Bodger says:

      When I left my Mom’s place in western PA early on Monday morning the nearest stations were $3.95 to $3.99. Two miles away across the river it was $3.77 for regular which the Subaru drinks. Since I was stopping for a couple of donuts and a cup of coffee in Charleroi anyway it was serendipitous. All the way down through West Virginia, Virginia, and Tennessee it was quite predictable — prices got lower as I went toward home except in the more remote areas in WV and on the WV Turnpike where the prices spiked madly because there was no competition. As you say, I just filled up and regular was $3.69 as it seems to be in the more competitive places in E-TN. Sadly I just had to fill up the Miata which wants mid-grade or better at $3.81.

  4. umbriago says:

    Yeah, oh, sure, it’s great living here in the middle of the country.

    Except you have to live here.

  5. Power Imbalance says:

    LOL! You asked for it…

    Energy prices will “necessarily skyrocket”

    • Unclaoshi says:

      I live in Fargo and its not that bad. I moved away for a while and moved back. We have about 208k people in the F/M area the schools are good, the people are nice, the crime is low and we dont have a high cost of living. Granted a lot of the midwest isnt great to live in but its not all bad.

  6. Gehasst says:

    The places they list as cheaper, are more spread out. Doesn’t matter if your gas is cheaper if you have to drive further to get to your destination.

    Gas will go down, right before elections, just as it did 4 years ago…amazing, right?

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I agree. If I’m paying a lot for gas, I’d rather live in a city where there’s a good public transportation system and I can have options for relying less on my car.

      • Gehasst says:

        I live in the county of St. Louis, MO. I live 6.5 miles from work. But if I wanted to catch the bus to work, I’d first have to walk 3 miles to the bus stop. Meh. May as well just drive.

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          For you, it’s easier to drive. For me…not so much. I take the train to work because it’s a headache to drive and pay for parking. It’s not necessary and we were able to get rid of a car.

  7. GreatWhiteNorth says:

    A little while ago I was told the price of gas in Iran is $0.25 a gallon. Just interesting information.

    • Cat says:

      Yes, but the downside is, you have to live in Iran.

      My “cellmate” at work is Iranian, he is there right now dealing with his sick mother and disposing of some property.

    • apasserby says:

      Iran is .45/ga Venezuela is .11/ga

    • Blueskylaw says:

      That may be a low price but the per capita income in Iran is $6,260 dollars, which works out to be $120 dollars a week.

  8. HomerSimpson says:

    You can thank that “pipeline” for not being completed. Otherwise that surplus would be going straight to China and you’d be paying what the rest of us are.

    • Apeweek says:

      How right you are. Most participating in this discussion don’t realize that Keystone is already partially completed – taking oil right to the middle of the country:


      Right now, all that oil lands right in the midwest. The completed pipeline would take it the rest of the way, to the Gulf, where it can be loaded onto ships and sold to the highest bidder.

      Being from the Midwest, I see very little value in that for me.

  9. polishhillbilly says:

    The gas may be cheaper but our cost of living is also much lower, as are our earned salaries. what little money we have is being taxed 30 fold.
    /Northwest Arkansas

  10. OSAM says:

    $3.60 / GAL. That’s $0.90/L. Gas here is $1.33/L (Toronto)

    Stop. Whining.

    • George4478 says:

      Yeah! Stop whining about the price you actually pay. You could, theoretically, be paying more if you chose to live somewhere else. But, since you didn’t chose to live there, stop complaining about the prices where you actually live.

    • Cat says:

      US Gas: $0.90/L.
      Gas in Canada: $1.33/L

      Health Insurance in US: $$,$$$, hard to get, over 50 million uninsured.
      Health Insurance in Canada: paid for with taxes (gas taxes included!), and everybody is insured.

      Stop. Whining.

      • OSAM says:

        gas taxes go to provincial governments for roads and infrastructure: Health care is taken off wages and taken from provincial sales tax. Research first.

        Also: Not our fault the US has an antiquated healthcare policy.

        • Cat says:

          Yes, yes, all that, but you get my point: It’s a fair trade-off.

          • OSAM says:

            Not really. The two things you mention (price of gas / universal healthcare) are completely and utterly unrelated. Your argument holds water like a colander.

  11. GrimJack says:

    I was under the impression that the lower cost of gas in the upper mid-west (Montana, the Dakotas, etc) was due to the low price of tar sand oil from Canada that is ‘trapped’ in the area due to lack of cheap transportation. This causes a glut of supply and lower prices for refineries.

    Say goodbye to the price differential when and if the Keystone pipeline gets build, as that oil will flow straight through to the gulf (and, as some evidence points to, straight out to more lucrative markets)..

  12. Miriv365 says:

    That’s all flyover country, nothing worth seeing or doing there /s

  13. anime_runs_my_life says:

    Um..and what’s St. Louis, chopped liver? We’re at $3.99/gal on the west side of the river, over $4 on the east side of the river.

    • Blueskylaw says:

      I’m paying $4.31 per gallon in the Northwest corner of Connecticut. A few miles up the road in Massachusetts it’s usually about 20 to 30 cents cheaper.

      Feel my pain.

    • Invader Zim says:

      4.44 in Lowell Indiana. meh robbers.

  14. Back to waiting, but I did get a cute dragon ear cuff says:

    Or just move to a cheaper neighborhood. In the DC area I have seen gas prices vary by over 40 cents a gallon on the same day at various locations.

    Note, the following class distinctions are purely subjective and based on local income standards.

    Real estate prices and local income play a big part. It looks to me like upper lower class through upper middle class areas tend to have the best prices.

  15. apasserby says:

    Have you also noticed that the price at off-brand stations are almost the same as a branded station? There’s a Liberty station across the street from a Sunoco. The LIberty cash price is 5 cents higher than the Sunoco’s credit price.

  16. MrMagoo is usually sarcastic says:

    We’re averaging around $3.60 for 10% ethanol, $3.68 for 100% pure gas in central OK.

  17. dolemite says:

    I’m betting all these Suburbans, Hummers and Expedition drivers are about to start regretting life if they aren’t already. My little Hyundai wagon averages 32 mpg with a heavy right foot and fits 5 adults and still has 25 cf of trunk space. I put in about half a tank every 2 weeks.

  18. Cor Aquilonis says:

    THIS is why I live about two miles from work, and am thinking about moving to an apartment within walking distance. I can remove the majority of a volatile expense from my life.

    • mk says:

      If I lived two miles from my office, I would walk.

    • ARP says:

      If there are sidewalks, I would walk if I lived two miles away. Save money+ exercise= win.

    • Hartwig says:

      I hope your work is one of the kinds where once you go home you won’t get bothered. If i lived that close i would be called all the time for issues. Gotta love salary gigs.

  19. tbax929 says:

    I paid $3.55 on Saturday in Tucson. I only have to buy gas once a month (small car and reasonable commute FTW), and I usually have accumulated $0.10 off per gallon at Frys Food.

  20. xanadustc says:

    GasBuddy must not think Wyoming is part of the USA (like most people I guess). Out gas has been under $3.50 for months.

  21. Fumanchu says:

    Dallas has great gas prices for being such a large city, right now I would say the average is $3.7-3.8. But yeah tulsa has great gas prices and if you head up to the north east of it (Owasso) its actually very pretty landscape wise. If I were going to live in OK thats where I would live.

  22. WyomingGunAndHuntingEnthusiast says:

    Hmmmm its wrong the cheapest gas is here in Cheyenne Wyoming i just paid $3.39

  23. Carlos Spicy Weiner says:

    I went to college in Arcata, CA. When I graduated in 1986, gas was 10-20 cents/gallon more than San Francisco, where I moved back to after graduation. It made sense, since it costs money to truck the gas to a more remote place 5 hours north. San Francisco is close to the refineries in Richmond, where gas is made. Now, gas is MORE expensive in San Francisco than Arcata. Other than oil companies gouging us, WTF??

    • Dr. Shrinker says:

      In Long Beach/Carson, about 20 miles north of me, you can see multiple refineries from the freeway. Yet gas is markedly more expensive here than it is at stations hundreds or even thousands of miles away. These prices have nothing to do with supply, demand, or cost of transportation.

      • Carlos Spicy Weiner says:

        Used to have some bearing, but not anymore. Oil companies have decided what they’re getting here in the U.S. isn’t enough, and are actually selling REFINED gasoline overseas, so now it’s not just crude oil that’s subject to the wonderful World Market. Gotta love Globalization

  24. Dallas_shopper says:

    Paid $3.74/gallon at Sam’s Club on Saturday in sunny Plano, Texas. My Sam’s Club membership pays for itself in gas savings alone.

    According to my recruiter I’m going to be offered a new job today, one much closer to home and one where taking the DART train is actually NOT a totally ridiculous option! So here’s hoping I can cut down my gas costs dramatically. :-D

  25. MrEvil says:

    Before I left for Austin, Amarillo used to be the most expensive gasoline in Texas. 80% of the gas stations in a city of 180,000 were owned by one man. You could drive anywhere south and pay less for gasoline. Until now.

  26. cynner says:

    This is why I ride a motorcycle: 65 MPG (also the carpool lane and discounts on bridge tolls)

  27. Cantras says:

    I read it as “the middle of the century.” I guess it’d depend which way you were going, but yeah, that’d also be promising.

  28. HogwartsProfessor says:

    Blargh, I had to drive to a smaller city up north of me to get my sewing machine fixed. With every mile I felt the prick of gas prices in my wallet. Even though it’s cheaper here, it still hurts.

  29. PortlandBeavers says:

    Gas prices are the most overblown story in the media. This is an example. The difference between the highest and lowest prices is about a dollar per gallon. I use about 600 gallons a year. I’m not going to choose where I live based on $600 per year.

    It’s like those Chevy Volt commercials where owners brag about how much gas they save. The car is $20,000 or so more than any similar gas car. Do they have any idea how hard it is to save $20,000 on gas? You might break even if you drive it 150,000 miles and don’t factor in the time value of money.

  30. vliam says:

    Is that ‘going to work’ prices or ‘leaving work’ prices?

    When I went into work, gas was 3.98 in my area. As I left 6.5 hours later, gas was 4.27 at most of the stations. (The big BP was 4.45 for some unknown reason)

    For some reason, which I don’t fully understand, this seems to happen quite often on Tuesdays.

  31. gophermackem says:

    Laramie, WY – $3.37/gal. Just paid that an hour ago.

  32. NotEd says:

    Since moving to the Chicago ‘burbs a few years ago, all I can say is screw you oil companies and gas price speculators.

    And, by the way, why is Chicago the exception? What did we ever do to you?