Thinking you’ll never be able to afford home ownership? Think again!
Sticker shock is normal, with the median price of a single-family home as high as $235,000 nationwide at the end of 2016. But you can spend a fraction of that amount to live, and live well, in your own home. You just have to know where to look.
Let’s say you want to stay within the more reasonable range of $150,000 or less. Check out this home affordability calculator to find the best amount for your financial situation and goals. Ideally your total mortgage payment shouldn’t exceed 28% of your gross monthly income, and monthly debt payments shouldn’t exceed 40% of that income. You’ll want to account for other factors, too, like homeowners’ insurance and property taxes.
So where can you find a good home for under $150,000? We’ve looked into some of the nation’s most affordable cities—places where the cost of living isn’t too steep, and the environment’s a good one for young professionals. This list is a great place to start if:
- Your career lets you be flexible in your location
- You want to stay within a certain geographic area, but you’re searching for the best city
- You’re ready to settle down, looking for the perfect spot, and scoping out home prices in different areas
Data is based on the median closing price for all homes in the area at Realtor.com. The figures are subject to change, and prices may vary depending on your individual needs.
The cities below aren’t just places with great deals on homes. They represent some of the most affordable regions of the United States. In many cases you can be near a big city – you can even commute! – without spending big-city prices.
Akron median home price: $92,000
Canton median home price: $105,000
Youngstown median home price: $82,000
Akron, Ohio’s fifth-largest city, has an urban feel with small-town amenities. Canton in northwest Ohio has historic hometown pride. And nearby Youngstown combines Appalachian culture and rapid urban renewal.
With some of the nation’s best universities and the cultural hub of Cleveland close by, Ohio’s affordable without being boring. (Full disclosure: This is my home state. But the home price stats speak well for Ohio too!)
Median home price: $105,000
One of the largest cities in Illinois, Peoria has a young population (the median age of residents is 33) and a thriving civic life. It’s also right on the Illinois river.
Median home price: $87,000
For low-cost urban living, this is one of your best bets. Rockford’s the biggest city in Illinois outside of Chicago. It’s known for culture, like museums and performing arts.
Median home price: $109,000
The more cost-friendly neighbor to nearby Cedar Falls, Waterloo is a growing town with a community feel. You’re close to the Iowa countryside, too.
Fond du Lac, WI
Median home price: $128,000
Come for the cheese, lakeside scenery, outdoor sports, and proximity to Milwaukee and Madison if you’re in the mood. Stay for the good prices.
Other low-cost spots in the Midwest/Great Plains
South Bend, IL Median home price: $62,000
Decatur, IL Median home price: $79,000
Kankakee, IL Median home price: $75,000
Oshkosh, WI Median home price: $130,000
Wichita Falls, TX
Median home price: $92,000
This North Texas city has waterfalls to help you cool off in the humid temperatures. It’s home to Sheppard Air Force Base, and its economic growth doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.
Median home price: $130,000
This is one of the pricier spots on our list, but in the popular state of North Carolina it’s a great bargain. The median resident age is 30, and the city is North Carolina’s fifth-largest.
North Little Rock/Conway, AR
North Little Rock median home price: $120,000
Conway median home price: $150,000
Little Rock’s less expensive neighbors both have lively downtown areas and quiet residential spots. Conway in particular is growing in the technology and higher education industries.
Other low-cost spots in the South
Florence, SC Median home price: $143,000
Montgomery, AL Median home price: $125,000
Ocala, FL Median home price: $122,000
Mobile, AL Median home price: $130,000
Median home price: $109,000
Coastal cities tend to be pricey, but Erie’s Great Lakes port gives it coastal charm without the cost. Northwestern Pennsylvania’s largest city was featured in The Atlantic as home to movers, shakers, and optimists.
Median home price: $96,000
This city at the southern end of New York State (near Pennsylvania) is a hub for healthcare, education, and high-tech jobs. It’s also got plenty of attractions and nightlife, even in the cold winter months.
Median home price: $104,000
For one of the biggest cities on this list (New York State’s fifth-largest and one of upstate New York’s cultural nerve centers) Syracuse has pretty reasonably priced housing. Its diverse population includes lots of young residents-–the median age is 30.
Other low-cost spots in the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic
Rochester, NY Median home price: $119,000
Charleston, WV Median home price: $150,000
Buying a home can be a smart financial decision and a great way to achieve long-term stability. You have to be prepared first, of course. Our home buying guide has tips for success at every step in the process.
Live in any of these cities? Know of any great low-cost cities we missed? Let us know in the comments!