Many Americans want financial stability. Young professionals and new families, in particular, are looking for a city that offers a prospering job market, fair wages, and a low cost of living.
MarketWatch recently evaluated data for 100 top cities across the U.S. to find the 10 best affordable cities in America where people actually enjoy living. Because, if we are honest, affordability isn’t the only thing driving our home buying choices. We also want safe neighborhoods, great nightlife, easy access to medical care, good schools, and a wide range of entertainment options.
The MarketWatch included cities that had a median home value under $250,000 and a population of under 1 million people. Then, the top cities were ranked according to the health of the economy, housing availability and cost, local amenities, infrastructure, demographics, education, and healthcare access and quality.
Based on those qualifiers, MarketWatch identified the 10 Best Affordable Cities in America. Is yours on the list?
1. Boise, Idaho
This tight-knit western community has become a magnet for transplants from all over the U.S. Boise’s labor market is thriving, with industries like healthcare and technology leading the economy. Residents love the small-town feel and easy access to outdoor activities. Boise is also one of the safest cities in the world, making it popular for young families.
However, with the influx of new residents, Boise is seeing a shortage of housing inventory, raising concerns over housing prices and cost of living. Housing prices saw a nearly 10% increase in the past year alone.
2. Raleigh, North Carolina
By far the city with the highest population on this list, North Carolina’s capital city is a thriving economic center. The city scored high in the amenities category thanks to its many sports teams, outdoor activities, and nightlife offerings.
The city has enjoyed a 17.25% job growth over the past five years, bringing in new talent, new money, and modern infrastructure. Average home prices in Raleigh sit at about $278,000, and while the housing market continues to grow, it’s not exploding like in other cities on our list.
3. Madison, Wisconsin
A college town with a family-friendly vibe, Madison is popular for young and old alike. Madison offers residents the benefits of a bigger city with the vibe of a small town. Locals love the food and bar scene and the proximity to lakes and green space. But the big draw is the University of Wisconsin’s sports teams, keeping this town cheering for the Badgers all year long.
Average home prices in Madison have risen more than 5% in the past year, with the median price now sitting just above $300,000. Madison is a healthcare hub, and economic projections for the city are bright.
4. Iowa City, Iowa
With a population of just under 72,000 residents, Iowa City is perhaps an underdog for this list. Residents love the award-winning schools, friendly atmosphere, thriving downtown, and the exceptional medical facilities. Iowa City has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country at 1.9%. The average home costs just shy of $225,000 in this midwestern college town.
5. Rochester, Minnesota
Home of the renowned Mayo Clinic, Rochester features a lower-than-average unemployment rate, higher than average wages, and proximity to entertainment options galore. The proximity to Mayo clinic regularly attracts new talent and fosters community involvement among citizens. The average home in Rochester costs $226,300.
6. Columbia, Missouri
Nestled between metropolitan giants Kansas City and St. Louis sits pleasant Columbia, home of the University of Missouri. This town of just over 115,000 residents boasts miles of parks and hiking trails, excellent restaurants, and a bustling nightlife. With an unemployment rate below the national average and average housing prices of $181,100, Columbia residents enjoy a more affordable way of life.
7. Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Situated near the border with Minnesota, Nebraska, and Iowa, Sioux Falls is a vibrant, friendly city. It’s beautiful, it’s clean, it’s safe, and it has a strong economy. The median home price is less than $193,000 here, making it an affordable location for young professionals and new families. The city is a two-time winner of the Best US Cities for Young Professionals designation thanks to its steady job growth and low housing costs.
8. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
One of only two cities on the list with a population over 300,000, Pittsburgh is an eclectic and unique mix of cultures and history. The city’s sports teams are legendary. Heinz Ketchup is a major employer here, boosting Pittsburgh’s ranking in the survey. Homes are affordable in Pittsburgh – the average home costs $146,000 – making it an excellent place for young professionals to live.
9. Lincoln, Nebraska
It’s the state capitol and the home to the University of Nebraska, so Lincoln already has a lot to brag about. Their cost of living is low compared to the rest of the nation (the average home is about $183,000), meaning residents have more money to spend on entertainment, travel, and tailgating at Huskers football games.
10. Greenville, South Carolina
Both Carolinas made the list for the best affordable cities in America. Located halfway between Charlotte and Atlanta, Greenville sits near the Blue Ridge Mountains, beckoning residents to come and play. Greenville’s economy is thriving, and job opportunities abound. Housing is affordable, the cost of living is low (average home price is $187,000), and the residents of Greenville enjoy some seriously great local restaurants.
If you’re looking for a place where your down payment can stretch a little farther, and you can slow down and enjoy life, maybe it’s time to consider relocating to one of these 10 best affordable cities in America.
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