Saving up for a home in a big, expensive city (ahem, looking at you, New York and San Francisco) feels pretty impractical on the average budget. But throughout the United States, bidding for your attention are small to mid-sized cities (and even some large ones) proving themselves equal parts cool and attractive to anyone who wants to transition from renter to buyer.
Since the median home value in the United States is $248,857, we scouted out real estate markets where you can get a home for less—and in some cases, much less. Ahead, find seven cheap places to buy a house right now.
Median home value: $68,757
Healthcare is an economic engine in Cleveland, with the Cleveland Clinic and University hospitals among the major employers in this affordable Midwestern city. In addition to home prices well under the $100,000 mark, residents here can zip around on “The Rapid,” a well-designed transit system that makes transportation a breeze. Gargoyles, Corinthian columns, skyscrapers, and a sprinkling of Cleveland script signs present a unique architectural scavenger hunt—and lend a sense of place when you’re bopping around town. Pierogies are a must at the century-old West Side Market, a European-style food hall with vendors from around the world. Expect to hear more about this lively city in the coming year; Cleveland is playing host to the 2021 NFL Draft.
Median home value: $187,772
Think “buzzy tech scene,” and Silicon Valley probably flashes to mind. But did you know Pennsylvania—thanks to leading research universities, several company headquarters, and lots of available grant money—has a thriving tech scene, minus the high cost of living? Its creative district is packed with galleries, studios, and shops, too. Consider running up the “Rocky Steps” and polishing off a cheesesteak your resident initiation here. In non-pandemic times, something is always going on along the revitalized Delaware River Waterfront, like yoga, outdoor concerts, and festivals at Penn’s Landing.
Median home value: $195,578
The Rocky Mountain’s call for adventure coupled with Denver’s chill vibes makes Colorado a coveted place to call home. The median home price in the state, however, is also rocky mountain high at $400,000. But, psst, the secret’s not yet out about the hip renaissance taking place in Pueblo, a former mining town with a sultry past. The Union Avenue Historic District that once housed gambling saloons and brothels is now dotted with boutiques and sidewalk cafes. A “neon alley” with refurbished vintage signs and gondola rides along the Arkansas Riverwalk lend personality to Pueblo, which is about 100 miles southwest of Denver.
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Median home value: $142,220
Oklahoma City has plenty of surprises in store for newcomers. Take, for instance, the city’s $45 million whitewater rafting and kayaking center in the Boathouse District. Then there’s the creative arts scene that’s given way to Factory Obscura’s Mix-Tape, an 80s’-tastic interactive art exhibit that pays homage to the lost art of creating mixtapes. Parks galore, museums, a pro basketball team, a modern-day streetcar system, and Will Rogers Airport provide big city amenities, but the cost of living remains affordable for those who are looking to become first-time homebuyers.
Median home value: $110,364
You already know Augusta for the Masters Tournament. But as Georgia’s second-biggest (and second-oldest) city, Augusta is 150 miles outside of Atlanta and boasts some extremely affordable homes and a tech-savvy workforce. Located on the Savannah River, residents here can enjoy weekend strolls on the revitalized riverwalk lined with gardens or go standup paddleboarding on the water. For free fun, go birdwatching in Phinizy Swamp Nature Park, where turtles and marsh rabbits also make cameos, or stroll downtown with your eyes peeled for public art and funky murals.
Buffalo, New York
Median home value: $105,695
In non-COVID times, more than 1,000 events—like concerts, ice skating, festivals—are hosted every year at Canalside, which is in the heart of downtown Buffalo’s waterfront revitalization. This affordable city is home to gardens galore, seven Frank Lloyd Wright structures, and some seriously impressive public art murals courtesy of famous street artists. Suffice it to say, there’s plenty to do in addition to the grand tourist attraction that is Niagara Falls.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Median home value: $216,090
A few things all newcomers here should know: Albuquerque is the hot air ballooning capital of the world. If you can’t choose between red and green chile, order your burrito “Christmas-style.” And anise-flavored cookies are the official state cookie. While the craft beer scene is booming in this southwestern city, know that the Rio Grande Region is one of the oldest wine-making regions in this part of the country: Spanish missionaries planted grapevines in New Mexico in the 1600s. When residents are itching to travel, there’s always the option for a weekend trip to art galleries and museums in Santa Fe—$10 will get you a train ride between the two cities.