Are you attracted to the idea of owning your own home, but are not sure which cities are the most affordable? Perhaps you’re thinking about starting a family and are considering other aspects like crime levels and award-winning schools in the area.
The cost of borrowing to finance a home is lower than its ever been in our history. This won’t last forever. Finding a suitable home to buy and securing a 15- or 30-year fixed rate home loan helps to fix part of your home ownership costs in place and provides an opportunity for first-time home buyers.
WalletHub used data from the U.S. Census Bureau, real estate site Zillow, CoreLogic, Experian, and FBI crime data to build a picture over the last few months about the most affordable and attractive places to live.
1. Overland Park, Kansas
Housing Affordability Rank: 32
Real Estate Market Rank: 25
Living Environment Rank: 3
Overland Park in Kansas is a suburb of the larger Kansas City in the Midwest with a population of 181,000 based on 2013 data. The service sector is the main driver of the local economy with finance, health care, retail, and technology most prominent; Sprint has their national headquarters in Overland Park.
The city spans four school districts with parents able to decide strategically where to locate themselves based on school district performance records. Median household income from 2009-2013 was $71,094, noticeably above the $51,332 medium income in Kansas. Unemployment remains reasonably low and 6% of the population in the city have an income below the poverty line.
2. Allen, Texas
Housing Affordability Rank: 14
Real Estate Market Rank: 31
Living Environment Rank: 4
Allen in Texas is a suburb of Dallas with a population of 92,000 based on 2013 data. It sits just 27 miles from Dallas and within striking distance of Frisco and McKinney. The Allen Independent School District, Experian and Frontier Communications are three of the largest employers in Allen.
The city has one district with a structured school system for all school children. Median household income from 2009-2013 was $101,636, ranking third in the study (nearby Frisco took the #1 spot), with the median income in Texas being $51,900. Unemployment remains reasonably low and 5% of the population in the city have an income below the poverty line.
3. Centennial, Colorado
Housing Affordability Rank: 7
Real Estate Market Rank: 47
Living Environment Rank: 9
Centennial in Colorado is only 14 miles from Denver heading southeast, which makes it an ideal commuter city with a 106,000 population based on 2013 data. The major employers in Centennial include Oppenheimer Funds and US Foods.
The city has two school districts and is supported by a network of both public and private schools in the area. Centennial has been awarded as one of the safest cities in the country at least five times by CQ Press and second-lowest rate of crime among the best cities for first time buyers by WalletHub.
Centennial has a healthy median household income of $89,214 based on 2013 data which is comfortably above the median of $58,433 in Colorado. About 5% of the inhabitants are below the poverty line.
4. Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
Housing Affordability Rank: 5
Real Estate Market Rank: 53
Living Environment Rank: 30
Broken Arrow is a large suburb of Tulsa that sits just 14 miles away and has a population of roughly 103,000 based on 2013 data. Some of the notable employers in the area include St. John’s Medical Center, FlightSafety International, and Saint Francis Health System.
There are over 30 schools in the suburb of Broken Arrow. The Northeastern State University and Tulsa Technology Center support students graduating from school-level academic studies.
Median household income in Broken Arrow from 2009-2013 was $65,484 which is above both the national average, and the state median of $45,339. About 8% of the population live below the poverty line.
5. Frisco, Texas
Housing Affordability Rank: 20
Real Estate Market Rank: 32
Living Environment Rank: 11
Frisco in Texas is a second city near to Dallas – just 25 miles away – that finds its way into the best 10 cities for first time buyers. Its population is larger with roughly 137,000 inhabitants based on 2013 data. The key employers here are the Frisco Independent School District, T-Mobile USA, IKEA Frisco, Oracle Corporation, and Amerisource Bergen Specialty Group.
Frisco is spoiled for choice with schooling and higher education is supported by the University of Dallas campus, the Amberton University campus, and both the University of North Texas and UT Arlington that run MBA courses in the city. Numerous sports franchises play out of Frisco making the location an excellent one for up and coming athletes looking for a sports scholarship and a future career in sports.
Median household income is highest in the study at $108,000 based on 2009-2013 data, more than double the $51,9000 median income in Texas. Only 4% of the population live below the poverty line.
6. Plano, Texas
Housing Affordability Rank: 34
Real Estate Market Rank: 33
Living Environment Rank: 15
Plano is one of the largest cities in Texas covered in the study with a 275,000 population based on 2013 data. It is conveniently located just 20 miles from downtown Dallas. There are many employers in the area with several operating their corporate headquarters from Plano. Notable employers include Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Dell Services, and Toyota Motors USA.
The Plano Independent School District covers most of the city and has received significantly higher final grades than students achieved in nearby Dallas. The median household income from 2009-2013 was $82,484 which is more than 57% above the $51,900 state median. Approximately 8% of the city’s inhabitants live below the poverty line.
7. Carrollton, Texas
Housing Affordability Rank: 34
Real Estate Market Rank: 20
Living Environment Rank: 18
Carrollton in Texas is a suburb of Dallas with a population of about 127,000 based on 2013 data. Being a predominantly energy state, companies in this sector feature prominently with Halliburton Energy Services, McKesson, Baylor Medical Center at Carrollton, and Accor North America being some of the major employers in the city.
Carrollton has consistently been named over the past few years either as one of the safest or one of the best places to live. It was previously featured by Money Magazine’s on their Best Places to Live list and Relocate America also recommended the city. There are a number of different public and private schools available for young students in Carrollton, so academics is well supported too.
The median household income from 2009-2013 was a reasonable $68,811 which exceeds the $51,900 median income in Texas. A high 9.5% of the population in Carrollton live below the poverty line.
Housing Affordability Rank: 37
Real Estate Market Rank: 30
Living Environment Rank: 12
McKinney is 33 miles from Dallas heading north and has a population of about 149,000, which is expanding quickly, based on 2013 data. The key employers in the city are Raytheon, the McKinney Independent School District, Torchmark, and Walmart. There are several large medical centers, which are significant employers in the area too.
There are several public schools within four districts that serve the population in McKinney. Collin College has a Central Park Campus in the city which has been recently expanded. From 2009-2013 the median income was $81,118 which is comfortably above the $51,900 for the lone star state. About 9% of the population in the city live below the poverty line.
9. Longmont, Colorado
Housing Affordability Rank: 41
Real Estate Market Rank: 37
Living Environment Rank: 1
Longmont is only a few miles drive from Denver passing Thornton which is the #10 best city in this list. Longmont has a population of roughly 90,000 based on 2013 data. Some of the largest employers include St. Vrain Valley Schools, Seagate Technology, Longmont United Hospital, Circle Graphics, and the FAA.
The healthier living environment with beautiful mountain ranges and cleaner air is one of the key attractions of the location. The city is well supported by a number of public and private schools, plus a campus for the Front Range Community College.
Between 2019-2013 the median household income in Longmont was $58,698, which is only slightly above the $58,433 median for the Colorado state. Close to 15% of the population of Longmont lives frugally at or below the poverty line.
10. Thornton, Colorado
Housing Affordability Rank: 30
Real Estate Market Rank: 45
Living Environment Rank: 4
Thornton is slightly closer to Denver than Longmont. It is a short 10 mile drive to the outskirts of Denver. The growing population of roughly 123,000, based on 2013 data, is well supported by key employers in the city like Biomet, Platte Valley Medical Center, Life Care Centers of America, and Gordon Trucking.
Thornton, shares the same attractive outdoor life as Longmont, with more than 80 city parks and endless miles of walking trails to get out and explore. Ample schooling, including several charter schools, is provided within three districts, along with several libraries in the Rangeview Library District.
The median household income between 2009-2013 is better than nearby Longmont at $64,525 which is marginally above the state median of $58,433. About 9% of the inhabitants of Thornton live below the poverty line.