Finding a home where you’d love to live is easy. Finding one that also fits your budget? That’s the real challenge. While our research has found that some cities are experiencing a shift towards a buyers market, many metro areas are still largely unaffordable for the typical home buyer.
But many metros aren’t all metros. We took a close look at the top five affordable metro areas, then compared the median home prices in those places to the area’s median income. What did we find? First, we found zip codes where 100% of homes were affordable on a local salary. Then, we identified some great neighborhoods within those zip codes with cute homes and happy neighbors. From a rural oasis in the suburbs to a quiet section of mid-century homes in the middle of an urban neighborhood, these are some of the most affordable neighborhoods in the nation.
Columbus Beechwood Affordable zip code: 43227 Median income in zip: $64,480 Median home value in zip: $79,779
When a local describes a neighborhood as a “secret little spot,”1 you know you’re in for a pleasant surprise—and some affordable homes overlooked by other house-hunters. Beechwood is just that kind of place. It’s a neighborhood filled with charming mid-century homes and huge lawns just 15 minutes from Downtown Columbus. While locals note that the average age in the neighborhood skews toward retirees, 70% of respondents to What Locals Say, our database of insight from real residents, state that kids can be seen playing outside. That makes for a nice residential blend of quiet and cuteness.
Though there is a busy shopping strip to the east of the neighborhood on South Hamilton Road, the residential streets of Beechwood insulate you from traffic and noise. Yet you’re not so far that you’re in for a long commute. In addition to its proximity to downtown, Beechwood is less than a 15-minute drive the John Glenn Columbus International Airport, making future vacations and business trips a breeze.
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Pittsburgh Homeacre-Lyndora Affordable zip code: 16045 Median income in zip: $59,000 Median home value in zip: $88,450
Encompassing an area that surrounds a corner of the historic city of Butler, Pennsylvania, Homeacre-Lyndora is where you’ll find all the comforts and conveniences a family could want. While the 16045 zip code where 100% of the homes are affordable for the local median income only includes Lyndora, at the southern end of Homeacre-Lyndora, the community functions as one neighborhood. And with a few pricey exceptions, the whole area is pretty affordable.
Most of your shopping and restaurants are located on one big stretch of New Castle Road, making Saturday errands a breeze. Need to entertain the kids? Head just off that road to the unusually nice Alameda Park Pool (it’s huge and has a water playground) or the Family Bowlaway Fun Center. Though these features might point to a suburban lifestyle, you won’t find cookie-cutter developments here. Locals call out the peaceful country atmosphere, and the homes in the area have a quaint character all their own.
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St. Louis Southeast side of Florissant Affordable zip code: 63033 Median income in zip: $60,900 Median home value in zip: $112,142
If you love to golf but also want to remain close to the city, Florissant might just be a great fit for you. It’s less than a 30-minute drive from downtown St. Louis, has plenty of food and shopping, and has two big golf courses located right in the neighborhood (Florissant City Golf Course and Eagle Springs Golf Course).
The Florissant zip code with the most affordable homes, 63033, also includes a bit of the town of Black Jack. You’ll be located right between the two golf courses there. Plus, this area also has some of the bigger houses, making your dollar go further. “I have lived here for two years now and I love it,” says one Black Jack resident. “People are friendly and really look out for each other.”2
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From the name alone, you might think that Speedway would be a fast-paced city. In reality, that idea is both true and false. It’s actually an old-fashioned town that just happens to be the home of the highest-capacity sports venue in the world—Indianapolis Motor Speedway. That’s right—the racetrack seats more than 250,000 people, meaning the entire population of small-town Speedway would fill just 5% of the place.
Locals describe Speedway as a small town within a city, and while you will need a car, you also can enjoy getting around on the roomy sidewalks. It’s an enjoyable walk, too: The homes have a quaint charm and neatly manicured lawns. Residents recommend going to the newly revitalized N. Main Street, where unique restaurants and bars can be found—like the deliciously-named Barbecue and Bourbon.
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Kansas City Northeast side of Kansas City Affordable zip code: 64117 Median income in zip: $62,600 Median home value in zip: $103,476
Though you’ll find convenient highways and shopping centers here, these necessary facets of urban life are balanced by many parks in this corner of Kansas City (situated just northeast of the Central Business District. From the woodlands of Hidden Valley Park to the winding hiking paths of the Buckeye Greenway (and the sports fields and rec options in between), nature still has a place near the city in this neighborhood.
Often, you’ll also find a woodsy vibe in many of the backyards of the homes here, which range from cute cottages to newly-updated ranches. When you wake up in the morning to the sweet sounds of birds chirping, you might just forget that the city is almost at your doorstep.
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We took the current value of all homes (as of April 2019) in the largest 50 metro areas and calculated the share affordable in each ZIP code to a would-be buyer that earns the local median income. Homes were considered affordable if 30% or less of the metro’s median monthly income was required to afford a mortgage payment and other expenses, including property taxes, on that home.
In order to find the share of affordable homes on the market, we calculated the maximum amount that the median income could allocate towards a mortgage payment. We evaluated the value of each home, subtracted a 20% down payment and calculated the monthly mortgage payment using the prevailing 30-year fixed mortgage rate (according to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey). We also factored in mortgage insurance and property taxes. Based on these calculations, we determined the share of homes that were affordable without exceeding 30% of the median monthly income for that metro. Median household income is based on the U.S. Census’ 2017 1-Year American Community Survey.
1 Lori, 2014, “This secret little spot in Columbus was built in the 60’s. I see lot’s of 50 to 70 year olds walking, holding hands and they wave to me. Very few children live here, so it’s nice and quite 🙂 People seem to take pride in their yards.”
2 Camisha_welch, 2018, “I have lived here for two years now and i love it. People are friendly and really look out for each other.”
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