America’s Best Places for First-Time Homebuyers

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Buying your first house is a major milestone, replete with tough choices, mountains of paperwork and a mortgage that may follow you into retirement. While price and location are important during your home search, there’s much more to consider. That’s why we looked at data in three categories — affordability, livability and price stability — to find the best places for first-time homebuyers nationwide.

NerdWallet’s analysis

For this report, NerdWallet analyzed the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, online data provider NeighborhoodScout, and Down Payment Resource for the 448 largest places in the U.S. by population. Down Payment Resource’s data allowed us to assess the availability of homeownership assistance programs, which can help cash-short first-time homebuyers. To see our detailed methodology, click here.

If you’re considering buying a home, try NerdWallet’s mortgage calculator to see how much you can afford in specific U.S. locations.

Key takeaways

  • Suburbs dominate: No large cities made the top 10 list, which is composed of suburbs or small cities within major metroplexes. These areas stand out because they’re close to the amenities and jobs of a big city, often with a more affordable and quieter lifestyle. Household incomes also tend to be much higher than the national median (which was $56,516 as of 2015) in these suburbs.

  • Size counts: There may be a sweet spot for population when it comes to the top places for first-time buyers. Five of our top 10 cities have populations between 83,000 and 89,000.

  • Look beyond the coasts. States like Indiana and Texas dominate the list because they have affordable housing, good schools and plenty of jobs. Folks starting out can build a solid financial foundation in these states because they don’t have to devote an outsized portion of their paychecks to housing.

Top 10 cities for first-time homebuyers

In all 10 cities, schools are ranked in the highest 25% of all cities analyzed, and crime rates are in the lowest 25%, according to NeighborhoodScout data.

1. Carmel, Indiana

Once a quiet suburban city on the north side of Indianapolis, Carmel has nearly doubled in population since 1990, to over 88,000 residents as of 2015. Located along the U.S. Route 31 corridor, Carmel is home to over 40 corporate headquarters, according to the city. With so many jobs in the area, Carmel enjoys the lowest unemployment rate of all 448 cities analyzed, at just 2%. It also has the second least volatile housing market. Plus, Carmel has a great combination of affordability factors: The median home was priced at $318,800 in 2015, and the median income was an impressive $108,660.

2. Fishers, Indiana

Just over seven miles from Carmel, Fishers is another fast-growing Indianapolis suburb, but homes there cost even less. Fishers had the second most affordable homes among the top 10 cities: The 2015 median home price was $233,500, and the median income was slightly above Carmel’s, at $109,397. Of the top cities, residents here on average devoted the least amount of income to housing costs, at 17%. The Geist Reservoir, a large man-made lake, is in Fishers, offering boating and other water sports. Several golf courses also are located nearby.

3. Johns Creek, Georgia

Johns Creek is an affluent northeastern suburb of Atlanta. Its approximately 83,000 residents had the seventh-highest median household income of all cities analyzed, at $116,210. Meanwhile, the median home price in Johns Creek was $373,700 in 2015, so incomes go a long way here. The town is home to Technology Park Johns Creek, an office and industrial park that houses many technology companies. Businesses there employ over 10,000 people. It’s also a short drive to Lake Lanier, with 692 miles of shoreline and recreational opportunities.

4. Frisco, Texas

Located in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, Frisco’s nearly 155,000 residents benefit from a strong local economy. Frisco had the lowest percentage of people below the poverty line among all cities examined, at 2.3%. The median household income here was $123,055 in 2015, the fifth-highest among all cities studied. Homebuyers in Frisco have access to up to $39,384 in down payment assistance programs, according to Down Payment Resource, higher than almost all cities analyzed. These typically are government programs that offer financial assistance or tax credits on down payments to certain homebuyers.

5. Newton, Massachusetts

Situated less than 10 miles from downtown Boston, Newton’s homes are pricey; the median home price in 2015 was $809,700. But incomes here are also high. The median household income was $126,649, the second-highest of all 448 cities, making mortgage costs 33% of income; this is around the maximum ratio that most financial experts recommend spending on monthly housing costs. Homebuyers in Newton also have access to $39,384 in down payment assistance programs. Additionally, Newton’s unemployment rate of just 2.2% was the fourth-lowest of all cities analyzed.

6. Allen, Texas

Residents of this northern Dallas suburb have plentiful employment opportunities in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex while enjoying a slower pace of life, with nearly 50 miles of hiking and nature trails. Allen had the fifth-lowest poverty level of all the cities we examined, and its homes were the third most affordable among the top 10 cities, with a 2015 median price of $262,900. Homebuyers here have access to over $39,000 of down payment assistance programs, tying for the most among the top 10 with Frisco, Texas, and Newton, Massachusetts.

7. Gilbert, Arizona

Once a small farming community with just 5,717 residents in 1980, Gilbert has grown at a dizzying pace in recent years. It has by far the largest population among the top 10 cities we analyzed, with over 247,000 residents as of 2015. The median home price in 2015 was a reasonable $284,800, and the median household income was $86,045. Gilbert’s sunny weather makes it easy for residents to take advantage of its golf courses, parks, wildlife preserves and 135 miles of biking trails. Gilbert was hit hard by the last recession, losing nearly half of its median home value from 2006 to 2012. While the median here is still below its peak of a decade ago, the market is recovering nicely.

8. Centennial, Colorado

This large Denver suburb was incorporated as a city in 2001, and as of 2015, it had nearly 110,000 residents. Centennial has the sixth-lowest poverty level among all cities analyzed. The median household income was $96,634, and the median home price was $369,800. Lovers of the outdoors fit right in here, where there are plentiful opportunities for hiking, skiing, biking, golf and other recreation activities nearby. Centennial also has many business parks and is located along several key transportation corridors.

9. Olathe, Kansas

Olathe is just 20 miles from downtown Kansas City, but it’s close to nature, including its two public lakes with fishing, boating and sailboarding. The median home price in Olathe was $207,700 in 2015, the lowest among the top 10 cities. It’s also the least volatile housing market among the top 10. Median household income was $80,242. Many corporations, including Garmin International, have large offices here, and developments such as the Kansas Bioscience Park help fuel Olathe’s fast growth.

10. Sugar Land, Texas

Once a sugar plantation in the 1800s, Sugar Land is now a booming suburb 20 miles southwest of Houston, the fourth most populous city in the nation. Sugar Land had the third least volatile housing market among the top 10 cities in 2015, with a healthy median household income of $111,124 and a reasonable median home price of $288,700. Sugar Land’s unemployment rate is low and its business climate is strong, with oil, gas and health care as its main industries. Corporate headquarters located here include Minute Maid and Texas Instruments.

Best cities for first-time homebuyers by region

Best cities in the Northeast

Newton, Massachusetts Cambridge, Massachusetts Erie, Pennsylvania Somerville, Massachusetts Quincy, Massachusetts

Best cities in the Midwest

Carmel, Indiana Fishers, Indiana Olathe, Kansas Naperville, Illinois Troy, Michigan

Best cities in the South

Johns Creek, Georgia Frisco, Texas Allen, Texas Sugar Land, Texas McKinney, Texas

Best cities in the West

Gilbert, Arizona Centennial, Colorado Folsom, California Kirkland, Washington Chandler, Arizona

Best cities for first-time homebuyers

Scroll down and right through the table below to see the data for all 448 cities.

Rank

City or town

Economics index

Livability index

Stability index

Final score

1

Carmel, Indiana

53.04

95.85

70.07

70.99

2

Fishers, Indiana

73.86

93.86

41.62

70.19

3

Johns Creek, Georgia

56.64

99.14

56.4

69.32

4

Frisco, Texas

54.25

72.86

82.47

68.3

5

Newton, Massachusetts

31.03

92.98

89.74

67.23

6

Allen, Texas

48.85

80.2

78.6

67.18

7

Gilbert, Arizona

52.72

72.37

76.07

65.62

8

Centennial, Colorado

53.16

80.9

63.21

64.5

9

Olathe, Kansas

54.25

69.64

67.28

62.77

10

Sugar Land, Texas

51.24

68.43

68.99

61.72

11

McKinney, Texas

43.92

65.41

79.78

61.12

12

Naperville, Illinois

36.47

87.95

66.01

60.78

13

Troy, Michigan

49.02

73.29

61.51

60.05

14

Folsom, California

42.21

64.6

78.71

59.88

15

League City, Texas

63.63

58.3

55.89

59.71

16

Kirkland, Washington

39.89

60.46

84.95

59.58

17

Overland Park, Kansas

48.77

66.4

67.12

59.56

18

Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

61.71

51.65

64.34

59.48

19

Chandler, Arizona

50.46

54.94

75.44

59.3

20

Pearland, Texas

55.53

56.24

67.23

59.25

21

Cary, North Carolina

52.08

81.77

45.92

59.14

22

Lee's Summit, Missouri

51.62

56.97

68.6

58.32

23

Mount Pleasant, South Carolina

33.12

70.84

78.6

58.08

24

Rochester, Minnesota

52.96

58.4

64.44

58.04

25

Mission Viejo, California

37.7

82.16

60.93

58.01

26

Pleasanton, California

39.87

75.81

63.72

57.81

27

Arvada, Colorado

42.77

55.96

79.38

57.71

28

Round Rock, Texas

48.73

67.2

59.28

57.43

29

Carrollton, Texas

46.92

46.46

81.68

57.21

30

San Ramon, California

29.46

89.79

60.32

56.82

31

Livermore, California

39.83

56.07

79.92

56.73

32

O'Fallon, Missouri

50.54

75.38

45.77

56.56

33

Chino Hills, California

40.6

74.16

59.09

56.22

34

Surprise, Arizona

50.68

46.08

71.95

55.68

35

Lake Forest, California

32.65

82.6

58.05

55.25

36

Livonia, Michigan

53.07

48.98

64.05

55.14

37

Newport Beach, California

22.31

61.72

92.07

55.06

38

Thousand Oaks, California

34.12

75.03

62.03

54.77

39

Richardson, Texas

49.54

53.37

61.6

54.3

40

Roswell, Georgia

43.14

59.87

63.07

54.14

41

Sandy, Utah

48.04

52

63.73

53.93

42

Plano, Texas

42.84

59.39

62.28

53.64

43

Meridian, Idaho

39.32

68.98

57.06

53.54

44

Scottsdale, Arizona

31.7

56.5

79.64

53.52

45

Farmington Hills, Michigan

38.27

66.17

60.09

53.19

46

Billings, Montana

43.2

31.96

85.47

52.51

47

Fremont, California

36.09

65.99

60.87

52.49

48

Temecula, California

35.57

52.73

74.35

52.35

49

Boca Raton, Florida

26.65

54.74

83.73

52.2

50

Hoover, Alabama

43.54

47.12

68.64

52.14

51

West Jordan, Utah

45.09

50.53

62.4

51.91

52

Irvine, California

25.79

81.23

56.35

51.59

53

Goodyear, Arizona

41.67

42.82

73.41

51.54

54

Midland, Texas

51.34

23.73

79.33

51.46

55

Carlsbad, California

27.59

69.82

64.34

51.28

56

Lakewood, Colorado

36.42

42.32

79.73

51.18

57

San Mateo, California

24.55

56.01

79.6

50.5

58

Cambridge, Massachusetts

30.09

51.64

76.49

50.47

59

Santa Clarita, California

32.2

66.29

58.52

50.32

60

Sterling Heights, Michigan

45.8

48.67

58

50.32

61

Parma, Ohio

49.22

61.81

40.06

50.25

62

Port St. Lucie, Florida

40.59

46.35

67.01

50.24

63

Alameda, California

25.62

51.41

81.66

50.17

64

Peoria, Arizona

45.2

50.59

55.91

50.03

65

Simi Valley, California

32.68

62.71

60.48

50.03

66

Boise, Idaho

43.92

53.11

54.99

50

67

Palm Coast, Florida

39.82

56.94

55.29

49.6

68

Springdale, Arkansas

46.36

30.21

71.95

49.19

69

St. George, Utah

40.24

54.21

56.11

49.19

70

Sunnyvale, California

32.24

64.99

55.65

49.09

71

Bloomington, Minnesota

40.34

43.5

66.09

49.01

72

Santa Clara, California

32.83

44.51

75.01

48.99

73

Cape Coral, Florida

34.99

52.85

63.66

48.95

74

Fort Collins, Colorado

35.09

45.29

70.91

48.9

75

Jurupa Valley, California

34.11

55.58

61.42

48.74

76

Norman, Oklahoma

46.92

41.39

56.4

48.1

77

St. Joseph, Missouri

61.72

20.98

56.69

47.99

78

Amarillo, Texas

52.42

28.49

61.31

47.91

79

Sioux Falls, South Dakota

45.24

37.62

61.41

47.8

80

Edmond, Oklahoma

42.88

60.75

40.89

47.65

81

Coral Springs, Florida

26.95

50.4

72.13

47.54

82

Topeka, Kansas

48.25

21.65

72.46

47.53

83

Rio Rancho, New Mexico

52.52

47.38

40.57

47.39

84

Roseville, California

34.75

53.77

56.58

47.01

85

Huntington Beach, California

26.36

60.71

60.27

46.84

86

Virginia Beach, Virginia

40.35

58.36

43.93

46.83

87

Mountain View, California

27.63

61.74

57.36

46.78

88

Elk Grove, California

41.65

49.6

50.79

46.78

89

Omaha, Nebraska

49.2

29.67

59.86

46.54

90

Erie, Pennsylvania

41.8

32.15

66.75

46.39

91

Bellevue, Washington

30.78

50.61

62.57

46.27

92

Hillsboro, Oregon

40.5

45.06

55.16

46.27

93

Clarksville, Tennessee

42.52

40.14

57.23

46.22

94

Somerville, Massachusetts

30.19

55.29

58.12

46.1

95

Quincy, Massachusetts

24.67

61.7

58.96

46.07

96

Westminster, Colorado

43.81

36.53

58.48

46.03

97

Cedar Rapids, Iowa

42.97

33.45

62.57

46

98

Henderson, Nevada

39.39

48.45

52

45.89

99

Arlington, Texas

37.47

25.38

77.27

45.78

100

Orem, Utah

40.74

58.9

38.68

45.57

101

Grand Prairie, Texas

45.43

32.76

58.27

45.48

102

Alexandria, Virginia

30.35

47.18

63.85

45.45

103

Bend, Oregon

27.38

51.22

63.44

45.35

104

Nampa, Idaho

39.55

32.64

64.84

45.06

105

Madison, Wisconsin

33.85

45.88

59.19

45.06

106

Fargo, North Dakota

35.52

42.8

60.04

45.06

107

Chula Vista, California

21.82

49.66

71.06

44.94

108

San Antonio, Texas

39.72

22.73

74

44.91

109

Torrance, California

22.75

58.99

60.02

44.8

110

Palm Bay, Florida

43.47

38.47

52.73

44.75

111

Milpitas, California

30.27

53.24

54.99

44.58

112

Garland, Texas

44.49

30.56

58.55

44.53

113

Wichita Falls, Texas

51.81

23.64

55.1

44.34

114

Raleigh, North Carolina

36.81

40.55

58.05

44.3

115

Austin, Texas

30.13

33.46

73.88

44.26

116

Lexington-Fayette urban county, Kentucky

39.26

36.39

58.67

44.22

117

Pembroke Pines, Florida

30.49

48.7

58

44.21

118

Bloomington, Illinois

42.94

47.98

41.16

43.92

119

Avondale, Arizona

44.42

25.38

61.74

43.9

120

Westland, Michigan

39.79

27.49

65.57

43.84

121

Warwick, Rhode Island

45.86

41.93

42.62

43.71

122

Irving, Texas

44

27.1

59.78

43.66

123

Garden Grove, California

21.73

47.36

68.89

43.57

124

Murrieta, California

28.29

63.66

43.58

43.49

125

Independence, Missouri

52.43

20.29

54.03

43.27

126

Lincoln, Nebraska

46.24

40.69

41.81

43.25

127

Denver, Colorado

32.48

27.05

73.12

43.04

128

Chesapeake, Virginia

37.55

50.15

42.9

42.93

129

San Marcos, California

20.86

62.21

52.86

42.86

130

Aurora, Colorado

40.46

35.02

53.67

42.79

131

Fort Wayne, Indiana

52.59

34.04

38.17

42.7

132

San Diego, California

21.32

43.92

69.92

42.68

133

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

41

38.92

48.51

42.63

134

Clovis, California

31.56

42.9

57.03

42.6

135

Lakewood, California

34.95

34.41

60.24

42.38

136

Downey, California

23.42

34.63

75.3

42.35

137

Santa Fe, New Mexico

33.38

55.58

41.04

42.34

138

Rancho Cucamonga, California

28.29

49.69

53.47

42.26

139

Ann Arbor, Michigan

25.3

57.1

49.85

42.2

140

Colorado Springs, Colorado

36.79

32.6

58.8

42.13

141

San Francisco, California

24.69

33.53

73.7

42.05

142

Longmont, Colorado

37.07

37.75

52.63

41.94

143

Sandy Springs, Georgia

26

38.99

65.81

41.84

144

Davie, Florida

30.18

42.18

56.97

41.82

145

Visalia, California

33.08

26.77

68.28

41.75

146

Renton, Washington

33.26

36.01

58.33

41.61

147

Daly, California

24.34

48.55

57.64

41.59

148

Nashua, New Hampshire

34.88

47.49

43.37

41.21

149

Beaumont, Texas

48.5

13.76

58.89

41.19

150

San Angelo, Texas

45.2

22.49

54.4

41.15

151

Vancouver, Washington

33.06

35.83

56.9

41.04

152

Abilene, Texas

42.35

26.04

54.21

41.01

153

Cranston, Rhode Island

33.05

53.64

38.98

41

154

Denton, Texas

34.44

37.06

53.53

40.95

155

Santa Monica, California

14.89

44.24

71.86

40.79

156

Melbourne, Florida

36.14

34.66

53

40.75

157

Fort Worth, Texas

42.48

23.48

55.55

40.7

158

Vista, California

24.98

38.65

63.31

40.58

159

Thornton, Colorado

45.69

33.96

40.15

40.51

160

Charleston, South Carolina

32.39

33.88

57.88

40.48

161

Sioux City, Iowa

47.53

32.89

38.16

40.33

162

Des Moines, Iowa

43.73

18.94

57.01

40.28

163

Kennewick, Washington

35.83

33.24

53.06

40.22

164

College Station, Texas

20.34

56.16

50.76

40.21

165

Costa Mesa, California

20.89

29.64

76.5

40.19

166

Orange, California

26.94

45.31

52.61

40.16

167

Corona, California

27.25

44.92

52.58

40.15

168

Seattle, Washington

29.3

38.06

56.59

40.12

169

Baytown, Texas

43.1

25.03

51.13

40.08

170

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

40.2

21.14

58.79

40.06

171

Deltona, Florida

43.21

40.03

35.87

40.05

172

San Jose, California

27.7

41.27

54.92

39.94

173

Reno, Nevada

29.85

33.59

59.51

39.87

174

Greeley, Colorado

43.43

20.31

54.62

39.85

175

Concord, North Carolina

38.87

40.12

40.59

39.76

176

Vacaville, California

35.64

35.58

49.39

39.75

177

West Covina, California

32.68

31.98

56.74

39.69

178

Charlotte, North Carolina

35.78

29.75

54.82

39.68

179

Mesa, Arizona

36.88

34.81

48.29

39.68

180

Napa, California

29.37

38.6

54.15

39.57

181

Alhambra, California

17.33

51.31

57.16

39.47

182

Huntsville, Alabama

40.65

22.3

54.47

39.29

183

Houston, Texas

33.12

20.06

66.7

39.28

184

Duluth, Minnesota

39.59

38.35

39.61

39.22

185

Lawrence, Kansas

38.8

41.75

37.22

39.21

186

Miramar, Florida

33.76

41.83

43.59

39.13

187

Oceanside, California

23.47

31.67

67.4

39.11

188

Longview, Texas

49.64

27.55

36.46

39.06

189

Clifton, New Jersey

24.18

54.1

43.84

39.05

190

Roanoke, Virginia

43.66

36.45

35.34

39

191

Corpus Christi, Texas

40.82

19.84

55.6

38.96

192

Boulder, Colorado

21.55

48.06

52.95

38.92

193

Springfield, Missouri

52.38

23.79

35.72

38.8

194

Kent, Washington

33.6

28.74

55.73

38.78

195

Indianapolis, Indiana

37.77

26.03

52.68

38.72

196

Chino, California

31.84

36.94

49.68

38.72

197

Sparks, Nevada

35.13

37.48

44.46

38.63

198

Lawton, Oklahoma

49.92

25.21

36.98

38.63

199

Glendale, Arizona

36.05

24.18

56.32

38.57

200

Glendale, California

11.26

59.48

54.06

38.57

201

Louisville/Jefferson County metro, Kentucky

38.09

19.89

57.86

38.56

202

South Bend, Indiana

46.79

14.59

51.26

38.47

203

Champaign, Illinois

31.74

32.88

53.02

38.47

204

Berkeley, California

17.92

41.04

63.18

38.43

205

Dearborn, Michigan

37.64

36.04

41.41

38.29

206

Brooklyn Park, Minnesota

38.52

32.68

43.31

38.21

207

Indio, California

27.53

24.93

65.61

38.17

208

Nashville-Davidson metro, Tennessee

39.67

17.21

57.02

38.14

209

Carson, California

33.26

25.64

56.79

38.03

210

Evansville, Indiana

44.41

28.38

38.71

37.89

211

Phoenix, Arizona

33.09

23.66

58.52

37.89

212

Buena Park, California

31.08

37.04

47.7

37.86

213

Everett, Washington

28.97

32.44

55.1

37.85

214

Beaverton, Oregon

24.29

59.56

34.04

37.8

215

Murfreesboro, Tennessee

37.76

38.81

36.62

37.73

216

West Valley City, Utah

45.72

24.59

39.92

37.64

217

San Buenaventura (Ventura), California

26.37

33.6

56.59

37.6

218

Fullerton, California

21.62

45.28

50.7

37.45

219

Lynn, Massachusetts

18.01

27.13

73.56

37.41

220

Burbank, California

17.35

46.93

54.39

37.34

221

Spokane, Washington

32.74

26.63

53.96

37.27

222

Columbus, Ohio

35.11

23.58

53.84

37.27

223

Warren, Michigan

43.19

22.14

44.43

37.25

224

Tracy, California

35.64

32.7

43.94

37.25

225

Westminster, California

17.35

48.92

52.06

37.23

226

Redwood City, California

21.09

40.07

55.78

37.19

227

Largo, Florida

33.22

25.72

53.82

37.15

228

Durham, North Carolina

35.34

19.6

56.97

37.11

229

Federal Way, Washington

35.55

21.29

54.79

37.04

230

Ogden, Utah

37.32

20.12

53.51

37.02

231

Albuquerque, New Mexico

37.88

16.85

55.98

37

232

Tyler, Texas

36.02

21.89

53.27

36.96

233

Plantation, Florida

27.39

30.27

56.38

36.95

234

Wichita, Kansas

49.09

18.07

39.56

36.93

235

Mesquite, Texas

45.2

26.12

36.45

36.85

236

Pasadena, Texas

42.91

28.83

36.59

36.79

237

McAllen, Texas

46.5

29.7

30.81

36.75

238

Jacksonville, Florida

36.36

19.88

54.14

36.75

239

Anchorage, Alaska

37.81

29.93

41.95

36.69

240

Portland, Oregon

29.15

31.59

51.8

36.68

241

Lewisville, Texas

37.18

30.75

41.79

36.63

242

Norwalk, Connecticut

26.96

46.82

39.21

36.59

243

Bryan, Texas

34.59

22.99

52.64

36.53

244

Yuma, Arizona

42.18

20.32

44.9

36.44

245

North Las Vegas, Nevada

40.6

23.69

43.52

36.4

246

Boston, Massachusetts

18.71

29.99

66.03

36.29

247

Elgin, Illinois

30.57

38.96

41.23

36.29

248

Norwalk, California

24.93

33.34

54.33

36.28

249

Bellingham, Washington

26.7

36.05

49.02

36.2

250

Tustin, California

25.44

51.42

35.02

36.11

251

Tacoma, Washington

30.26

23.34

56.65

36.1

252

Odessa, Texas

57.42

10.12

33.59

36.08

253

Kenosha, Wisconsin

34.44

35.97

38.25

36.05

254

Aurora, Illinois

35.59

52.44

19.69

35.88

255

Whittier, California

21.97

31.87

58.3

35.84

256

Hayward, California

27.57

18.1

64.48

35.8

257

Davenport, Iowa

43.5

20.6

40.6

35.76

258

Menifee, California

26.85

41.14

41.89

35.65

259

Lynchburg, Virginia

36.04

34.55

36.12

35.62

260

Eugene, Oregon

22.14

39.32

49.87

35.61

261

Palmdale, California

32.05

25.89

49.99

35.58

262

Tulsa, Oklahoma

38.33

14.02

53.43

35.57

263

Asheville, North Carolina

30.46

37.36

40.48

35.54

264

Lubbock, Texas

45.07

22.43

35.77

35.49

265

Auburn, Washington

39.34

28.46

37.32

35.47

266

Ontario, California

26.91

22.6

59.39

35.36

267

New York City, New York

13.01

47.8

52.64

35.34

268

El Monte, California

14.42

31.46

67.08

35.33

269

Kansas City, Missouri

45.87

17.44

38.79

35.22

270

Tempe, Arizona

34.81

22.87

48.07

35.2

271

Santa Rosa, California

24.58

34.56

50

35.2

272

Mission, Texas

50.6

34.35

15.34

35.15

273

Stamford, Connecticut

20.22

49.66

40.34

35.09

274

Lakeland, Florida

36.96

16.59

51.06

35.08

275

St. Paul, Minnesota

31.72

21.72

52.91

35.08

276

Las Cruces, New Mexico

36.57

15.37

52.69

35.04

277

Killeen, Texas

42.15

26.79

33.79

35.03

278

Laredo, Texas

36.5

19.06

49.03

35.03

279

Fontana, California

31.55

31.54

42.75

34.91

280

Washington, District of Columbia

26.45

13.61

67.34

34.86

281

Las Vegas, Nevada

35.16

25.84

43.35

34.82

282

Santa Barbara, California

16.36

36.82

57.44

34.82

283

Baldwin Park, California

21.3

35.48

51.39

34.58

284

Peoria, Illinois

38.1

15.41

48.85

34.52

285

Green Bay, Wisconsin

44.74

34.97

20.32

34.48

286

Buffalo, New York

38.15

19.65

43.53

34.21

287

El Paso, Texas

42.46

38.05

19.28

34.18

288

Greensboro, North Carolina

35.41

27.47

39.22

34.17

289

Tuscaloosa, Alabama

36.03

15.06

50.56

34.1

290

Tampa, Florida

27.18

32.03

45.37

34.09

291

Fairfield, California

32.06

26.15

44.59

34.04

292

Clearwater, Florida

25.86

23.78

55.17

34.03

293

Atlanta, Georgia

23.48

19.92

62.15

34.01

294

Newport News, Virginia

33.21

32.47

36.58

34

295

Deerfield Beach, Florida

31.01

29.6

42.02

33.89

296

Upland, California

17.95

32.6

56.31

33.85

297

Lancaster, California

29.38

21.9

51.75

33.85

298

Anaheim, California

21.74

31.67

52

33.8

299

Sacramento, California

26.94

18.05

58.43

33.72

300

Chattanooga, Tennessee

36.01

13.67

50.66

33.7

301

High Point, North Carolina

27.78

26.49

48.54

33.62

302

Minneapolis, Minnesota

28.17

20.33

53.85

33.52

303

Allentown, Pennsylvania

28.19

27.08

46.78

33.44

304

Springfield, Illinois

43.68

19

34.19

33.43

305

Shreveport, Louisiana

38.81

6.95

52.15

33.26

306

Redding, California

26.8

22.2

52.91

33.25

307

Suffolk, Virginia

34.5

44.79

19.97

33.23

308

Sunrise, Florida

37.74

26.88

33.04

33.07

309

Knoxville, Tennessee

37.43

26.16

33.76

32.95

310

Columbia, South Carolina

29.62

20.49

49.48

32.84

311

Riverside, California

31.21

22.19

45.39

32.76

312

Dallas, Texas

29.85

18.51

50.87

32.75

313

Rialto, California

28.8

26.22

44.48

32.73

314

New Orleans, Louisiana

21.37

34.15

46.32

32.69

315

Escondido, California

18.92

32.17

51.39

32.64

316

Salem, Oregon

31.74

28.87

36.89

32.42

317

Kansas City, Kansas

46.5

9.61

36.3

32.37

318

Tucson, Arizona

33.42

18.06

45.16

32.33

319

Provo, Utah

29.62

52.15

15.67

32.2

320

Santa Ana, California

22.11

29.01

48.22

32.01

321

Gresham, Oregon

24.7

21.43

51.98

31.9

322

Manchester, New Hampshire

33.11

21.5

40.59

31.87

323

New Rochelle, New York

12.45

50

39.59

31.86

324

Norfolk, Virginia

31.8

29.46

34.16

31.8

325

Bakersfield, California

35.39

16.7

41.61

31.65

326

Lowell, Massachusetts

22.85

40.34

34.58

31.62

327

Hampton, Virginia

38.44

34.48

19.58

31.6

328

Chico, California

22.19

31.71

44.02

31.59

329

Concord, California

27.26

17.31

51.18

31.45

330

Akron, Ohio

40.77

17.82

32.55

31.42

331

Hammond, Indiana

49.21

21.96

16.96

31.36

332

Joliet, Illinois

32.35

41.48

19.62

31.27

333

Moreno Valley, California

34.36

18.03

40.14

31.19

334

Fort Smith, Arkansas

36.18

22.24

33.34

31.14

335

Syracuse, New York

36.01

12.27

43.36

31.09

336

Yakima, Washington

37.75

19.32

33.99

31.09

337

Lafayette, Louisiana

35.5

19.35

36.82

31.05

338

Grand Rapids, Michigan

38.68

18.82

33.03

31.03

339

Edinburg, Texas

43.05

17.42

28.36

30.95

340

Hialeah, Florida

14.07

26.99

57.35

30.93

341

Fayetteville, Arkansas

31.6

24.79

35.92

30.86

342

Tallahassee, Florida

23.05

25.02

46.71

30.74

343

Danbury, Connecticut

27.36

48.26

17.66

30.72

344

Waco, Texas

30.39

16.55

45.1

30.65

345

Bellflower, California

14.3

31.49

51.55

30.63

346

Salt Lake City, Utah

29.61

25.32

36.87

30.5

347

Hesperia, California

33.91

22.57

33.52

30.39

348

Honolulu, Hawaii

18.2

14.67

61.92

30.26

349

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

34.51

6.83

47.85

30.21

350

Savannah, Georgia

26.7

18.18

46.69

30.14

351

Bloomington, Indiana

18.29

49.41

26.39

30.06

352

North Charleston, South Carolina

27.95

13.81

49.07

30.05

353

Columbia, Missouri

33.59

19.74

35.59

30.03

354

Reading, Pennsylvania

35.14

27.42

25.77

30.01

355

Jersey City, New Jersey

18.37

40.52

34.89

29.97

356

Winston-Salem, North Carolina

34.72

19.57

34.04

29.97

357

Brownsville, Texas

34.04

23.34

31.06

29.94

358

Lansing, Michigan

39.7

15.24

31.55

29.92

359

Spokane Valley, Washington

31.4

38.46

19.33

29.9

360

Montgomery, Alabama

44.46

5.88

34.42

29.87

361

Yonkers, New York

14.24

44.01

36.27

29.78

362

Augusta-Richmond County, Georgia

39.3

30.53

16.13

29.72

363

San Leandro, California

23.55

13.37

54.25

29.7

364

Citrus Heights, California

28.13

14.6

46.86

29.69

365

Birmingham, Alabama

36.91

5.97

43.23

29.53

366

Macon-Bibb County, Georgia

32.89

9.31

44.01

29.15

367

Pharr, Texas

54.83

23.9

0

29.1

368

Orlando, Florida

22.41

24.07

43.04

29.1

369

Portsmouth, Virginia

38.12

30.18

15.66

29

370

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

23.11

19.87

45.55

28.87

371

Jackson, Mississippi

36.11

6.99

40.12

28.57

372

Waukegan, Illinois

32.3

21.29

30.14

28.35

373

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

28.4

11.59

44.78

28.27

374

Little Rock, Arkansas

35.84

8.21

37.99

28.2

375

Toledo, Ohio

39.97

24.92

15.54

28.13

376

Fall River, Massachusetts

20.69

34.95

31.21

28.12

377

Wilmington, North Carolina

22.59

33.33

30.11

28.07

378

Antioch, California

28.54

13.73

41.5

27.99

379

Rochester, New York

34.63

22.23

24.45

27.86

380

Cincinnati, Ohio

26.82

26.45

30.44

27.8

381

St. Petersburg, Florida

32.78

14.56

33.98

27.67

382

Los Angeles, California

12.96

26.89

47.7

27.56

383

Pompano Beach, Florida

28.79

14.32

38.9

27.48

384

Oxnard, California

21.75

14.1

48.26

27.41

385

Pomona, California

24.09

17.02

41.77

27.27

386

Gainesville, Florida

20

33.86

30.32

27.25

387

Salinas, California

26.07

11.67

44.21

27.19

388

Pasadena, California

20.97

25.93

36.66

27.17

389

South Gate, California

17.71

21.38

45.48

27.14

390

Pueblo, Colorado

32.08

16.69

30.82

27.09

391

Medford, Oregon

24.83

24.7

31.23

26.71

392

Hollywood, Florida

26.34

22.14

31.74

26.7

393

Memphis, Tennessee

35.13

10.75

31.02

26.58

394

Vallejo, California

27.98

9.46

41.54

26.49

395

Fresno, California

26.32

14.67

38.42

26.45

396

West Palm Beach, Florida

32.65

14.8

29.29

26.29

397

Columbus, Georgia

29.78

15.38

31.95

26.11

398

Richmond, Virginia

22.46

25.43

31.45

26.05

399

Santa Maria, California

28.16

16.69

31.9

25.84

400

Modesto, California

30.04

12.83

32.56

25.63

401

Trenton, New Jersey

31.87

30.29

12.58

25.61

402

Miami Beach, Florida

7.16

20.18

55.56

25.58

403

St. Louis, Missouri

32.82

10.98

29.9

25.39

404

Mobile, Alabama

40.44

12.79

17.79

25.35

405

Victorville, California

32.13

12.78

28.66

25.28

406

Scranton, Pennsylvania

31.82

24.63

17.14

25.26

407

Fayetteville, North Carolina

34.3

22.12

16.23

25.23

408

El Cajon, California

17.22

33.07

27.01

24.91

409

Long Beach, California

16.7

25.74

34.95

24.89

410

Lawrence, Massachusetts

15.89

19.33

41.82

24.7

411

Stockton, California

25.82

11.74

35.33

24.45

412

Flint, Michigan

53.19

7.96

2.4

24.38

413

Chicago, Illinois

20.7

21

32.56

24.35

414

Dayton, Ohio

38.26

14.7

14.79

24.15

415

Richmond, California

22.98

10.36

39.4

24.12

416

Miami Gardens, Florida

22.25

13.76

36.57

24

417

San Bernardino, California

22.56

7.7

41.97

23.93

418

Athens-Clarke County, Georgia

20.16

24.28

28.19

23.81

419

Compton, California

22.78

10.11

38.54

23.71

420

Miami, Florida

7.27

18.26

50.95

23.68

421

Oakland, California

18.44

8.25

45.98

23.64

422

New Bedford, Massachusetts

23.31

14.92

32.37

23.51

423

Brockton, Massachusetts

20.9

18.89

30.61

23.21

424

Cicero, Illinois

20.7

20.53

28.4

22.96

425

Hawthorne, California

7.61

19.66

46.69

22.95

426

Racine, Wisconsin

43.79

17.75

0

22.84

427

Baltimore, Maryland

24.17

10.85

32.94

22.8

428

Elizabeth, New Jersey

14.08

23.78

33.27

22.75

429

Worcester, Massachusetts

23.66

26.92

17.14

22.68

430

Gary, Indiana

36.48

5.02

21.58

22.57

431

Inglewood, California

14.61

15.32

39.98

22.43

432

Merced, California

22.36

14.39

29.43

22.09

433

Greenville, North Carolina

22.05

23.02

20.46

21.87

434

Albany, New York

22.8

20.34

16.16

20.07

435

Camden, New Jersey

28.87

6.02

22.31

20.05

436

Springfield, Massachusetts

26.54

13.14

16.06

19.38

437

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

30.12

6.55

14.92

18.49

438

Rockford, Illinois

36.56

12.68

0

18.43

439

Cleveland, Ohio

35.62

4.03

9.29

18.24

440

New Haven, Connecticut

15.5

10.5

27.79

17.69

441

Providence, Rhode Island

20.78

14.45

15.28

17.23

442

Hemet, California

21.92

13.42

14.44

17.13

443

Waterbury, Connecticut

24.93

10.23

12.76

16.87

444

Newark, New Jersey

12.07

11.8

23.28

15.35

445

Bridgeport, Connecticut

17.98

12.11

14.56

15.19

446

Detroit, Michigan

28.11

1.16

10.95

14.88

447

Hartford, Connecticut

20.05

7.84

11.97

13.97

448

Paterson, New Jersey

6.2

16.37

15.17

11.94


METHODOLOGY

Nerdwallet analyzed the largest 448 cities and towns in the country by population where applicable data for the study were available. The score for each location was determined by analyzing data from Down Payment Resource, the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey and NeighborhoodScout. Our analysis examined:

Affordability: We looked at 2015 ACS data to analyze the income to home price ratio and the availability of homeownership assistance programs from Down Payment Resource. We gave affordability a 40% weighting.

Livability: We looked at crime rankings and school rankings provided by NeighborhoodScout, which were on a 1 to 100 scale. For crime rankings, we used the proprietary data to categorize each city as “most safe,” “above average safe,” “below average safe” and “most unsafe.” For school rankings, we used the proprietary data to categorize each city as “best schools,” “above average schools,” “below average schools”  and “worst schools.” We gave livability a 30% weighting.

Stability: We looked at poverty and employment data from the 2015 ACS. We used housing price volatility data from Zillow to assess the health of the housing market. Using the same Zillow data, we multiplied the stability score by a multiplier between zero and one (in increments of 0.25), depending on the number of year-over-year drops in housing prices, to penalize housing markets that are subject to prolonged downturns. We gave stability a 30% weighting.

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