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Ranked: The Most Affordable U.S. Cities for Home Buyers

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chart showing affordable u.s. cities for home buyers in 2023

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Ranked: The Most Affordable U.S. Cities for Home Buyers

Just before the pandemic, the average home price in the U.S. was $313,000—a figure that has since jumped by 40% to $436,800 today. As home prices and mortgage rates increase, home ownership is becoming an unrealistic dream for some.

In the cities ranked above, however, buying a house is a much more attainable goal.

By looking at factors like the real estate tax rate, median home price appreciation, and cost of living, this study from WalletHub assesses the most affordable cities in the U.S. for home buyers. The scores in the ranking are out of 100 and the higher a score, the more affordable that city is for home buyers.

The Methodology

This ranking considers much more than just the price tag on a house when it comes to affordability. Using 10 metrics, which cover an array of important considerations for home buyers, the overall affordability score is measured for each city.

Here’s a closer look at the 10 categories and how each one was weighted and measured:

Metric Weight
Housing Affordability25.00 points
Cost per Square Foot16.67 points
Maintenance Affordability8.33 points
Average Cost of Homeowner's Insurance8.33 points
Cost of Living8.33 points
Real Estate Tax Rate8.33 points
Rent-to-Price-Ratio8.33 points
Median Home Price Appreciation8.33 points
Quarterly Active Listings per Capita4.17 points
Vacancy Rate4.17 points

The highest-weighted metric is the median price of the home itself divided by the median household income in that area, or house affordability.

Other important metrics assessed include the availability of homes for sale, the average cost of homeowner’s insurance, maintenance costs, and many other vital things people must consider when purchasing a home.

Which U.S. Cities are the Most Affordable for Home Buyers?

Here’s a closer look at the 50 most affordable cities for home buyers in the U.S.:

RankCityScore
T1Montgomery, AL71.4
T1Flint, MI71.4
3Toledo, OH71.0
4Detroit, MI70.9
5Akron, OH70.3
6Warren, MI70.2
7Pittsburgh, PA70.1
8Yuma, AZ69.5
T9Springfield, Il69.1
T9Palm Bay, FL69.1
11Augusta, GA68.9
12Surpise, AZ68.7
13Grand Rapids, MI68.5
14Davenport, IA68.3
T15Buffalo, NY68.2
T15Cedar Rapids, IA68.2
17Columbus, OH68.1
18North Las Vegas, NV67.9
T19Fayetteville, NC67.8
T19Des Moines, IA67.8
21Peoria, IL67.4
T22Cleveland, OH67.2
T22Las Vegas, NV67.2
24Livonia, MI67.0
T25Dayton, OH66.9
T25Erie, PA66.9
27Dearborn, MI66.5
28Columbus, GA66.4
29Lakeland, FL66.2
30Rockford, IL66.1
31Memphis, TN65.9
32Henderson, NV65.6
T33Birmingham, AL65.5
T33Louisville, KY65.5
T33Fort Smith, AR65.5
T33Gilbert, AZ65.5
37Peoria, AZ65.3
38Mesa, AZ65.2
39Chesapeake, VA65.0
40Green Bay, WI64.9
41High Point, NC64.5
42Baltimore, MD64.4
43Cape Coral, FL64.3
44Fort Wayne, IN64.1
T45Indianapolis, IN63.9
T45Joliet, IL63.9
T45Tuscaloosa, AL63.9
48Philadelphia, PA63.8
49Lansing, MI63.7
50Chandler, AZ63.5

When it comes to the individual metrics, here’s a look at some cities which had the best scores in a few of the unique categories:

  • #1 in Housing Affordability: Springfield, IL
  • #1 in Maintenance Affordability: Sunnyvale, CA
  • #1 in Rent-to-Price Ratio: Flint, MI
  • #1 in Vacancy Rate: Miami Beach, FL

Location, Location, Location

Narrowing down which locations are feasible from a lifestyle and financial standpoint is a critical first step in the home-buying journey. Popular suburban communities and iconic hubs like Los Angeles or NYC hold great appeal, but these places command a higher price point or have housing stock that is incompatible with lifestyle needs.

On the flip side, some of the most affordable cities may have issues that negatively affect desirability. Flint, Michigan (#1), for example, is still widely perceived to have issues with its drinking water. Other places are high in crime or have a narrow range of economic opportunities, like Detroit (#4) or Yuma, Arizona (#9), respectively.

Many of the cities in the ranking are concentrated in Michigan, Arizona, and Ohio. In terms of big cities that are actually affordable, Pittsburgh, Columbus, Philadelphia, and Baltimore are examples of well-known spots to make the list.

There are also a number of ties in the ranking, with makes for interesting juxtapositions. For instance, Las Vegas is just as affordable as Cleveland, Ohio (#22). Here’s a look at some other cities that are equally affordable for home buyers:

  • Montgomery, Alabama and Flint, Michigan (#1)
  • Springfield, Illinois and Palm Bay, Florida (#9)
  • Buffalo, New York and Cedar Rapids, Iowa (#15)
  • Fayetteville, North Carolina and Des Moines, Iowa (#19)
  • Dayton, Ohio and Erie, Pennsylvania (#25)
  • Birmingham, Alabama; Louisville, Kentucky; Fort Smith, Arkansas; and Gilbert, Arizona (#33)
  • Indianapolis, Indiana; Joliet, Illinois; and Tuscaloosa, Alabama (#45)

Overall, the home ownership rate in the U.S.—the share of homes that are occupied by their owners—is currently 66%, according to FRED data. While the trend shows a general recovery from the steep drop off that occurred during the pandemic, there is a while to go before the U.S. reaches pre-2020 figures. Perhaps, these affordable towns could offer a solution.

Where Does This Data Come From?

Source: WalletHub using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, The National Association of Realtors, Council for Community and Economic Research and Insurance Information Institute.

Data notes: To determine the most affordable cities for home buyers, WalletHub compared a sample of 300 U.S. cities (varying in size) across ten key metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the most favorable conditions for home affordability. The ranking only considers proper cities and not surrounding metropolitan areas. Visit the source for further details.

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Money

Charted: Who Has Savings in This Economy?

Older, better-educated adults are winning the savings game, reveals a January survey by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago.

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A cropped chart visualizing the percentage of respondents to the statement “I have money leftover at the end of the month” categorized by sentiment, age, and education qualifications.

Who Has Savings in This Economy?

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

Two full years of inflation have taken their toll on American households. In 2023, the country’s collective credit card debt crossed $1 trillion for the first time. So who is managing to save money in the current economic environment?

We visualize the percentage of respondents to the statement “I have money leftover at the end of the month” categorized by age and education qualifications. Data is sourced from a National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) report, published last month.

The survey for NEFE was conducted from January 12-14, 2024, by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. It involved 1,222 adults aged 18+ and aimed to be representative of the U.S. population.

Older Americans Save More Than Their Younger Counterparts

General trends from this dataset indicate that as respondents get older, a higher percentage of them are able to save.

AgeAlways/OftenSometimesRarely/Never
18–2929%33%38%
30–4436%27%37%
45–5939%23%38%
Above 6049%28%23%
All Adults39%33%27%

Note: Percentages are rounded and may not sum to 100.

Perhaps not surprisingly, those aged 60+ are the age group with the highest percentage saying they have leftover money at the end of the month. This age group spent the most time making peak earnings in their careers, are more likely to have investments, and are more likely to have paid off major expenses like a mortgage or raising a family.

The Impact of Higher Education on Earnings and Savings

Based on this survey, higher education dramatically improves one’s ability to save. Shown in the table below, those with a bachelor’s degree or higher are three times more likely to have leftover money than those without a high school diploma.

EducationAlways/OftenSometimesRarely/Never
No HS Diploma18%26%56%
HS Diploma28%33%39%
Associate Degree33%31%36%
Bachelor/Higher Degree59%21%20%
All Adults39%33%27%

Note: Percentages are rounded and may not sum to 100.

As the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes, earnings improve with every level of education completed.

For example, those with a high school diploma made 25% more than those without in 2022. And as the qualifications increase, the effects keep stacking.

Meanwhile, a Federal Reserve study also found that those with more education tended to make financial decisions that contributed to building wealth, of which the first step is to save.

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