It's reasonable to assume that a city with higher-than-average wages would also have high housing costs. But that's not always the case. Here are 10 U.S. cities with affordable housing costs that are also home to well-paying jobs.

What do many 30-year old millionaires, 35-year old retirees and the residents of Rochester, Minn. have in common?

When it came time to decide where to live, they chose wisely.

On the road to wealth, where you live can have a profound effect on how quickly you’re able to save.

We all know that housing prices differ — sometimes dramatically — among geographic regions and even individual cities. And so do wages.

A three-bedroom home that sells for $250,000 in many parts of the Midwest might easily cost $1,000,000 in San Francisco or New York City. But are San Franciscans really earning four times their Missourian counterparts? On average, no. For urban Coasties, that’s a problem. For everyone else, however, it’s an opportunity.

It would be common sense to think that wages and housing prices are always directly correlated. But that’s not always the case. Here, we’ve found 10 U.S. cities with affordable housing. They have:

  • higher-than-average median wages and
  • lower-than-average housing prices

What’s average?

The median household income in the U.S. was $51,759 (in 2012) and the median home value was $258,300 (in 2012), according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

That means it would take five years of median income to purchase the median home.

But that’s not true everywhere. There are places where you can earn more than average and still buy an average home for well under the national average of five years of income. Spending less on housing means more wealth building, more retirement savings, and a higher lifestyle with more disposable income. Sounds fabulous to me!

Compare these cities with affordable housing with the nations most expensive places to buy a house, relative to income.

  • In Brooklyn, NY, you’ll need almost 12 years the median income of $45,230 to purchase the median home at $537,500.
  • Or Honolulu, where you need to work for 10.5 years at the median income of $62,048 to purchase the median home at $651,239.
  • Even in San Francisco, where the median income is high –$73,021 — you still have to work for 10 years to earn the $727,600 price of the median home.

10 cities where you can actually afford your home

Obviously, we know you might not be able to just up and move across the country. What we hope, however, is that these cities might inspire you to reflect on what’s likely your largest monthly expense — your home — and what percentage of your take home pay you’re devoting to mortgage payments.

1. Gilbert, AZ

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  • Median Household Income: $79,916
  • Median Home Value: $209,300
  • Years of income to purchase home: 2.6

Once the Hay Capital Of The World, Gilbert, AZ has made a rapid transformation from an agricultural community to a young, affluent town.

Located about 20 miles southeast of Phoenix, it has a desert climate which means summer highs in the 100s, winter highs in the 70s, and very low rainfall. In 2008, CNN Money ranked Gilbert as one of the best places to live in the United States. The city itself, the local school district, and two medical facilities are the top four employers in Gilbert. The top ten employers are rounded by with a large local grocery store, Go Daddy, Walmart, a neighboring school district, a construction company, and Dillards.

2. Brandon, Fl

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  • Median Household Income: $53,235
  • Median Home Value: $131,700
  • Years of income to purchase home: 2.5

Just 13 miles east of Tampa, Brandon residents often commute for both work and play.

Of the top ten employers in Tampa six are in the healthcare field, Publix grocery store, Verizon, Walmart, and Citibank. If you think that you can’t live near the beach and still get affordable housing Brandon proves you wrong. Tampa’s beautiful beaches let the 103,000 Brandon residents enjoy their humid subtropical climate, which means summers with highs in the low 90s, warm winters with highs in the mid 70s, and abundant rainfall. But don’t let the high rainfall numbers fool you, Florida isn’t called the sunshine state for nothing. You may also think that Florida is filled with nothing but retirees, but that’s not true. The median age in Brandon is a mere 34 years old.

3. Meridian, ID

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  • Median Household Income: $64,596
  • Median Home Value: $178,100
  • Years of income to purchase home: 2.8

Eleven miles west of Boise, sits Meridian, ID and its 75,000 residents.

The climate is semi-arid which means four distinct climates but low rain and snowfall. Located in Meridian are several major employers including Blue Cross of Idaho and the headquarters of the Idaho State Police, which trains 100% of the state police. The candle company Scentsy also has it’s headquarters in Meridian.

Fifteen minutes away in Boise are the headquarters of quite a few more large employers, including Albertsons, WinCo Foods, a software company Clearwater Analytics, several lumber companies, and many others. The technology and high-tech industries are also growing in Boise with businesses such as Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft among others. But don’t think everyone just sits around peeling potatoes when they aren’t working. Boise is a regional hub for music and theater. It also supports an outdoor lifestyle with it’s extensive urban trail system and local ski resort.

4. Aurora, IL

Median Household Income: $58,675

Median Home Value: $164,800

Years of income to purchase home: 2.8

Made famous by the movie Wayne’s World, Aurora, IL is located about an hour west of Chicago. It has warm summers with highs in the mid 80s and cold winters with highs in the 30s and about 30 inches of snow per year. It’s number one employer is Catepillar, followed by three medical centers, three school districts, the city of Aurora, a casino, and MetLife. This is one of the larger cities on this list with a population of about 200,000.

5. West Des Moines, IA

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  • Median Household Income: $67,999
  • Median Home Value: $188,002
  • Years of income to purchase home: 2.8

As you might expect, West Des Moines, IA sits about 10 minutes west of Des Moines.

With a population of just under 60,000, West Des Moines has warm summers with highs in the mid 80s, cold winters with highs in the mid 30s, and plenty of rain. What you might not expect is West Des Moines houses quite a few headquarters of large companies, especially those in financial services. Farm Bureau Financial Services, GuideOne Insurance, American Equity, and Sammons Financial Group are all headquartered there. Other headquarters include Hy-Vee, Kum & Go, Windsor Windows and Doors, and Iowa Foundation For Medical Care. Wells Fargo has it’s mortgage and card services divisions in West Des Moines. Aviva, an insurance company, is also a top employer as well as FBL Financial Group, Metlife, and Target.

A quick drive over to Des Moines and you will find even more companies in the financial industry. Principal Financial Group, EMC Insurance Group, Fidelity & Guarantee Life, and Allied Insurance are all headquartered in Des Moines.  Non-financial companies love Iowa too. Top employers also include Mercy Medical Center, UnityPoint Health, UPS, Bridgestone, and Wellmark Blue Cross And Blue Shield. In 2010, Forbes listed Des Moines as the number one best place for business and careers.

6. Rochester, MN

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  • Median Household Income: $61,741
  • Median Home Value: $160,300
  • Years of income to purchase home: 2.6

When people think of Rochester they think of the Mayo Clinic which employs over 30,000 people downtown. The mayo clinic also brings over 2 million people to the city each year for treatment, which makes the Mayo clinic the basis of the local economy.

But Rochester’s 106,000 residents do have other employment options. IBM is the city’s second largest employer followed by the local school district, local government, Walmart, HyVee, a hotel company, and Charter Communications. Summers are warm with highs in the low 80s and winters are cold and snowy with highs in the mid 20s and 50 inches of snow on average. Rochester has won several awards for being a great place to live, including several mentions on Money Magazine’s list of “Best Places To Live”.

7. Rio Rancho, NM

  • Median Household Income: $60,512
  • Median Home Value: $169,200
  • Years of income to purchase home: 2.8

Rio Rancho, NM lies just north of Albuquerque and has 87,500 residents.

It’s arid climate means average highs reaching into the mid 90s in the summer and 50’s in the winter. The largest semiconductor fabrication plant in the world sits in Rio Rancho and is owned by Intel, the area’s largest employer. Other employers include, Rio Rancho public schools, Hewlett-Packard, Presbyterian Health services, Sprint, Bank of America, Stream Global, Alliance Data, U.S. Cotton, and Walmart. The University of New Mexico also calls Rio Rancho home.

8. Amherst, NY

  • Median Household Income: $72,585
  • Median Home Value: $167,869
  • Years of income to purchase home: 2.3

Listed in CNN’s top 100 places to live, Amherst, NY is located 20 mins northeast of Buffalo.

The average high temperature in the summer is in the low 80’s, the average high in the winter is in the low 30’s with lots of snow…over 80 inches per year on average. Four colleges have campuses in Amherst including, University of Buffalo, Daemen College, Erie Community College, and Bryant Stratton.  Four of the top 10 employers in nearby Buffalo are governments, the top 10 list is completed by Kaleida Health, HSBC bank, Catholic Health System, Employer Services Corporation, M&T Bank, and the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo.

9. Edmond, OK

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  • Median Household Income: $70,199
  • Median Home Value: $197,700
  • Years of income to purchase home: 2.8

Edmond, OK is located approximately 23 minutes north of Oklahoma City. Average high temps in the summer reach the low 90s and winter highs are in the mid 40s. The top three employers are local school district, University of Central Oklahoma, and the city government. The top 10 list is rounded out with a mortgage lender, two manufactures, two healthcare companies, a wholesale distributor, and Cox Communications. Edmond was named as one of the most uniquely American cities largely due to it’s 10 day Libertyfest event which includes the state’s largest parade, rodeo, beauty pageant, fireworks, and kite festival.

10. Allen, TX

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  • Median Household Income: $107,064
  • Median Home Value: $199,600
  • Years of income to purchase home: 1.9

Texas is hotbed for high wages and affordable homes, and Allen is no exception.

This Dallas suburb has average highs in the summer in the mid 90s and winter average highs in the mid 50s, sometimes you might even see a little snow. Allen has the highest median household income on the list and it’s top employers are the local school district, two large retail complexes, a golf course, Experian, the city, Frontier Communications, a hospital, Jack Henry and Associates which is an information technology service which supports the financial industry, and PFSweb which is an ecommerce business. Allen was named the second best place in the U.S. for young families to live by and the 13th best place to live by Money Magazine.

So there you have it. A list of quite a few great cities where you can make a good living and still affordable homes. Whether you want beaches or mountains, sun or snow, you can find what you are looking for without working for a lifetime to afford your own home.

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About the author

Total Articles: 13
Ashley Barnett is the Content Director at Money Under 30. She has been creating personal finance content for the internet since 2008 and is committed to high quality content that is as useful to readers as possible. She lives in Phoenix with her family.