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America’s Best Places for First-Time Homebuyers

Dec. 13, 2016
Home Affordability, Home Search, Homeownership, Mortgages
Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

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.

» MORE: Best lenders for First-Time Home Buyers

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.

» MORE: Review our home-buying checklist

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.

RankCity or townEconomics indexLivability indexStability indexFinal score
1Carmel, Indiana53.0495.8570.0770.99
2Fishers, Indiana73.8693.8641.6270.19
3Johns Creek, Georgia56.6499.1456.469.32
4Frisco, Texas54.2572.8682.4768.3
5Newton, Massachusetts31.0392.9889.7467.23
6Allen, Texas48.8580.278.667.18
7Gilbert, Arizona52.7272.3776.0765.62
8Centennial, Colorado53.1680.963.2164.5
9Olathe, Kansas54.2569.6467.2862.77
10Sugar Land, Texas51.2468.4368.9961.72
11McKinney, Texas43.9265.4179.7861.12
12Naperville, Illinois36.4787.9566.0160.78
13Troy, Michigan49.0273.2961.5160.05
14Folsom, California42.2164.678.7159.88
15League City, Texas63.6358.355.8959.71
16Kirkland, Washington39.8960.4684.9559.58
17Overland Park, Kansas48.7766.467.1259.56
18Broken Arrow, Oklahoma61.7151.6564.3459.48
19Chandler, Arizona50.4654.9475.4459.3
20Pearland, Texas55.5356.2467.2359.25
21Cary, North Carolina52.0881.7745.9259.14
22Lee's Summit, Missouri51.6256.9768.658.32
23Mount Pleasant, South Carolina33.1270.8478.658.08
24Rochester, Minnesota52.9658.464.4458.04
25Mission Viejo, California37.782.1660.9358.01
26Pleasanton, California39.8775.8163.7257.81
27Arvada, Colorado42.7755.9679.3857.71
28Round Rock, Texas48.7367.259.2857.43
29Carrollton, Texas46.9246.4681.6857.21
30San Ramon, California29.4689.7960.3256.82
31Livermore, California39.8356.0779.9256.73
32O'Fallon, Missouri50.5475.3845.7756.56
33Chino Hills, California40.674.1659.0956.22
34Surprise, Arizona50.6846.0871.9555.68
35Lake Forest, California32.6582.658.0555.25
36Livonia, Michigan53.0748.9864.0555.14
37Newport Beach, California22.3161.7292.0755.06
38Thousand Oaks, California34.1275.0362.0354.77
39Richardson, Texas49.5453.3761.654.3
40Roswell, Georgia43.1459.8763.0754.14
41Sandy, Utah48.045263.7353.93
42Plano, Texas42.8459.3962.2853.64
43Meridian, Idaho39.3268.9857.0653.54
44Scottsdale, Arizona31.756.579.6453.52
45Farmington Hills, Michigan38.2766.1760.0953.19
46Billings, Montana43.231.9685.4752.51
47Fremont, California36.0965.9960.8752.49
48Temecula, California35.5752.7374.3552.35
49Boca Raton, Florida26.6554.7483.7352.2
50Hoover, Alabama43.5447.1268.6452.14
51West Jordan, Utah45.0950.5362.451.91
52Irvine, California25.7981.2356.3551.59
53Goodyear, Arizona41.6742.8273.4151.54
54Midland, Texas51.3423.7379.3351.46
55Carlsbad, California27.5969.8264.3451.28
56Lakewood, Colorado36.4242.3279.7351.18
57San Mateo, California24.5556.0179.650.5
58Cambridge, Massachusetts30.0951.6476.4950.47
59Santa Clarita, California32.266.2958.5250.32
60Sterling Heights, Michigan45.848.675850.32
61Parma, Ohio49.2261.8140.0650.25
62Port St. Lucie, Florida40.5946.3567.0150.24
63Alameda, California25.6251.4181.6650.17
64Peoria, Arizona45.250.5955.9150.03
65Simi Valley, California32.6862.7160.4850.03
66Boise, Idaho43.9253.1154.9950
67Palm Coast, Florida39.8256.9455.2949.6
68Springdale, Arkansas46.3630.2171.9549.19
69St. George, Utah40.2454.2156.1149.19
70Sunnyvale, California32.2464.9955.6549.09
71Bloomington, Minnesota40.3443.566.0949.01
72Santa Clara, California32.8344.5175.0148.99
73Cape Coral, Florida34.9952.8563.6648.95
74Fort Collins, Colorado35.0945.2970.9148.9
75Jurupa Valley, California34.1155.5861.4248.74
76Norman, Oklahoma46.9241.3956.448.1
77St. Joseph, Missouri61.7220.9856.6947.99
78Amarillo, Texas52.4228.4961.3147.91
79Sioux Falls, South Dakota45.2437.6261.4147.8
80Edmond, Oklahoma42.8860.7540.8947.65
81Coral Springs, Florida26.9550.472.1347.54
82Topeka, Kansas48.2521.6572.4647.53
83Rio Rancho, New Mexico52.5247.3840.5747.39
84Roseville, California34.7553.7756.5847.01
85Huntington Beach, California26.3660.7160.2746.84
86Virginia Beach, Virginia40.3558.3643.9346.83
87Mountain View, California27.6361.7457.3646.78
88Elk Grove, California41.6549.650.7946.78
89Omaha, Nebraska49.229.6759.8646.54
90Erie, Pennsylvania41.832.1566.7546.39
91Bellevue, Washington30.7850.6162.5746.27
92Hillsboro, Oregon40.545.0655.1646.27
93Clarksville, Tennessee42.5240.1457.2346.22
94Somerville, Massachusetts30.1955.2958.1246.1
95Quincy, Massachusetts24.6761.758.9646.07
96Westminster, Colorado43.8136.5358.4846.03
97Cedar Rapids, Iowa42.9733.4562.5746
98Henderson, Nevada39.3948.455245.89
99Arlington, Texas37.4725.3877.2745.78
100Orem, Utah40.7458.938.6845.57
101Grand Prairie, Texas45.4332.7658.2745.48
102Alexandria, Virginia30.3547.1863.8545.45
103Bend, Oregon27.3851.2263.4445.35
104Nampa, Idaho39.5532.6464.8445.06
105Madison, Wisconsin33.8545.8859.1945.06
106Fargo, North Dakota35.5242.860.0445.06
107Chula Vista, California21.8249.6671.0644.94
108San Antonio, Texas39.7222.737444.91
109Torrance, California22.7558.9960.0244.8
110Palm Bay, Florida43.4738.4752.7344.75
111Milpitas, California30.2753.2454.9944.58
112Garland, Texas44.4930.5658.5544.53
113Wichita Falls, Texas51.8123.6455.144.34
114Raleigh, North Carolina36.8140.5558.0544.3
115Austin, Texas30.1333.4673.8844.26
116Lexington-Fayette urban county, Kentucky39.2636.3958.6744.22
117Pembroke Pines, Florida30.4948.75844.21
118Bloomington, Illinois42.9447.9841.1643.92
119Avondale, Arizona44.4225.3861.7443.9
120Westland, Michigan39.7927.4965.5743.84
121Warwick, Rhode Island45.8641.9342.6243.71
122Irving, Texas4427.159.7843.66
123Garden Grove, California21.7347.3668.8943.57
124Murrieta, California28.2963.6643.5843.49
125Independence, Missouri52.4320.2954.0343.27
126Lincoln, Nebraska46.2440.6941.8143.25
127Denver, Colorado32.4827.0573.1243.04
128Chesapeake, Virginia37.5550.1542.942.93
129San Marcos, California20.8662.2152.8642.86
130Aurora, Colorado40.4635.0253.6742.79
131Fort Wayne, Indiana52.5934.0438.1742.7
132San Diego, California21.3243.9269.9242.68
133Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania4138.9248.5142.63
134Clovis, California31.5642.957.0342.6
135Lakewood, California34.9534.4160.2442.38
136Downey, California23.4234.6375.342.35
137Santa Fe, New Mexico33.3855.5841.0442.34
138Rancho Cucamonga, California28.2949.6953.4742.26
139Ann Arbor, Michigan25.357.149.8542.2
140Colorado Springs, Colorado36.7932.658.842.13
141San Francisco, California24.6933.5373.742.05
142Longmont, Colorado37.0737.7552.6341.94
143Sandy Springs, Georgia2638.9965.8141.84
144Davie, Florida30.1842.1856.9741.82
145Visalia, California33.0826.7768.2841.75
146Renton, Washington33.2636.0158.3341.61
147Daly, California24.3448.5557.6441.59
148Nashua, New Hampshire34.8847.4943.3741.21
149Beaumont, Texas48.513.7658.8941.19
150San Angelo, Texas45.222.4954.441.15
151Vancouver, Washington33.0635.8356.941.04
152Abilene, Texas42.3526.0454.2141.01
153Cranston, Rhode Island33.0553.6438.9841
154Denton, Texas34.4437.0653.5340.95
155Santa Monica, California14.8944.2471.8640.79
156Melbourne, Florida36.1434.665340.75
157Fort Worth, Texas42.4823.4855.5540.7
158Vista, California24.9838.6563.3140.58
159Thornton, Colorado45.6933.9640.1540.51
160Charleston, South Carolina32.3933.8857.8840.48
161Sioux City, Iowa47.5332.8938.1640.33
162Des Moines, Iowa43.7318.9457.0140.28
163Kennewick, Washington35.8333.2453.0640.22
164College Station, Texas20.3456.1650.7640.21
165Costa Mesa, California20.8929.6476.540.19
166Orange, California26.9445.3152.6140.16
167Corona, California27.2544.9252.5840.15
168Seattle, Washington29.338.0656.5940.12
169Baytown, Texas43.125.0351.1340.08
170Oklahoma City, Oklahoma40.221.1458.7940.06
171Deltona, Florida43.2140.0335.8740.05
172San Jose, California27.741.2754.9239.94
173Reno, Nevada29.8533.5959.5139.87
174Greeley, Colorado43.4320.3154.6239.85
175Concord, North Carolina38.8740.1240.5939.76
176Vacaville, California35.6435.5849.3939.75
177West Covina, California32.6831.9856.7439.69
178Charlotte, North Carolina35.7829.7554.8239.68
179Mesa, Arizona36.8834.8148.2939.68
180Napa, California29.3738.654.1539.57
181Alhambra, California17.3351.3157.1639.47
182Huntsville, Alabama40.6522.354.4739.29
183Houston, Texas33.1220.0666.739.28
184Duluth, Minnesota39.5938.3539.6139.22
185Lawrence, Kansas38.841.7537.2239.21
186Miramar, Florida33.7641.8343.5939.13
187Oceanside, California23.4731.6767.439.11
188Longview, Texas49.6427.5536.4639.06
189Clifton, New Jersey24.1854.143.8439.05
190Roanoke, Virginia43.6636.4535.3439
191Corpus Christi, Texas40.8219.8455.638.96
192Boulder, Colorado21.5548.0652.9538.92
193Springfield, Missouri52.3823.7935.7238.8
194Kent, Washington33.628.7455.7338.78
195Indianapolis, Indiana37.7726.0352.6838.72
196Chino, California31.8436.9449.6838.72
197Sparks, Nevada35.1337.4844.4638.63
198Lawton, Oklahoma49.9225.2136.9838.63
199Glendale, Arizona36.0524.1856.3238.57
200Glendale, California11.2659.4854.0638.57
201Louisville/Jefferson County metro, Kentucky38.0919.8957.8638.56
202South Bend, Indiana46.7914.5951.2638.47
203Champaign, Illinois31.7432.8853.0238.47
204Berkeley, California17.9241.0463.1838.43
205Dearborn, Michigan37.6436.0441.4138.29
206Brooklyn Park, Minnesota38.5232.6843.3138.21
207Indio, California27.5324.9365.6138.17
208Nashville-Davidson metro, Tennessee39.6717.2157.0238.14
209Carson, California33.2625.6456.7938.03
210Evansville, Indiana44.4128.3838.7137.89
211Phoenix, Arizona33.0923.6658.5237.89
212Buena Park, California31.0837.0447.737.86
213Everett, Washington28.9732.4455.137.85
214Beaverton, Oregon24.2959.5634.0437.8
215Murfreesboro, Tennessee37.7638.8136.6237.73
216West Valley City, Utah45.7224.5939.9237.64
217San Buenaventura (Ventura), California26.3733.656.5937.6
218Fullerton, California21.6245.2850.737.45
219Lynn, Massachusetts18.0127.1373.5637.41
220Burbank, California17.3546.9354.3937.34
221Spokane, Washington32.7426.6353.9637.27
222Columbus, Ohio35.1123.5853.8437.27
223Warren, Michigan43.1922.1444.4337.25
224Tracy, California35.6432.743.9437.25
225Westminster, California17.3548.9252.0637.23
226Redwood City, California21.0940.0755.7837.19
227Largo, Florida33.2225.7253.8237.15
228Durham, North Carolina35.3419.656.9737.11
229Federal Way, Washington35.5521.2954.7937.04
230Ogden, Utah37.3220.1253.5137.02
231Albuquerque, New Mexico37.8816.8555.9837
232Tyler, Texas36.0221.8953.2736.96
233Plantation, Florida27.3930.2756.3836.95
234Wichita, Kansas49.0918.0739.5636.93
235Mesquite, Texas45.226.1236.4536.85
236Pasadena, Texas42.9128.8336.5936.79
237McAllen, Texas46.529.730.8136.75
238Jacksonville, Florida36.3619.8854.1436.75
239Anchorage, Alaska37.8129.9341.9536.69
240Portland, Oregon29.1531.5951.836.68
241Lewisville, Texas37.1830.7541.7936.63
242Norwalk, Connecticut26.9646.8239.2136.59
243Bryan, Texas34.5922.9952.6436.53
244Yuma, Arizona42.1820.3244.936.44
245North Las Vegas, Nevada40.623.6943.5236.4
246Boston, Massachusetts18.7129.9966.0336.29
247Elgin, Illinois30.5738.9641.2336.29
248Norwalk, California24.9333.3454.3336.28
249Bellingham, Washington26.736.0549.0236.2
250Tustin, California25.4451.4235.0236.11
251Tacoma, Washington30.2623.3456.6536.1
252Odessa, Texas57.4210.1233.5936.08
253Kenosha, Wisconsin34.4435.9738.2536.05
254Aurora, Illinois35.5952.4419.6935.88
255Whittier, California21.9731.8758.335.84
256Hayward, California27.5718.164.4835.8
257Davenport, Iowa43.520.640.635.76
258Menifee, California26.8541.1441.8935.65
259Lynchburg, Virginia36.0434.5536.1235.62
260Eugene, Oregon22.1439.3249.8735.61
261Palmdale, California32.0525.8949.9935.58
262Tulsa, Oklahoma38.3314.0253.4335.57
263Asheville, North Carolina30.4637.3640.4835.54
264Lubbock, Texas45.0722.4335.7735.49
265Auburn, Washington39.3428.4637.3235.47
266Ontario, California26.9122.659.3935.36
267New York City, New York13.0147.852.6435.34
268El Monte, California14.4231.4667.0835.33
269Kansas City, Missouri45.8717.4438.7935.22
270Tempe, Arizona34.8122.8748.0735.2
271Santa Rosa, California24.5834.565035.2
272Mission, Texas50.634.3515.3435.15
273Stamford, Connecticut20.2249.6640.3435.09
274Lakeland, Florida36.9616.5951.0635.08
275St. Paul, Minnesota31.7221.7252.9135.08
276Las Cruces, New Mexico36.5715.3752.6935.04
277Killeen, Texas42.1526.7933.7935.03
278Laredo, Texas36.519.0649.0335.03
279Fontana, California31.5531.5442.7534.91
280Washington, District of Columbia26.4513.6167.3434.86
281Las Vegas, Nevada35.1625.8443.3534.82
282Santa Barbara, California16.3636.8257.4434.82
283Baldwin Park, California21.335.4851.3934.58
284Peoria, Illinois38.115.4148.8534.52
285Green Bay, Wisconsin44.7434.9720.3234.48
286Buffalo, New York38.1519.6543.5334.21
287El Paso, Texas42.4638.0519.2834.18
288Greensboro, North Carolina35.4127.4739.2234.17
289Tuscaloosa, Alabama36.0315.0650.5634.1
290Tampa, Florida27.1832.0345.3734.09
291Fairfield, California32.0626.1544.5934.04
292Clearwater, Florida25.8623.7855.1734.03
293Atlanta, Georgia23.4819.9262.1534.01
294Newport News, Virginia33.2132.4736.5834
295Deerfield Beach, Florida31.0129.642.0233.89
296Upland, California17.9532.656.3133.85
297Lancaster, California29.3821.951.7533.85
298Anaheim, California21.7431.675233.8
299Sacramento, California26.9418.0558.4333.72
300Chattanooga, Tennessee36.0113.6750.6633.7
301High Point, North Carolina27.7826.4948.5433.62
302Minneapolis, Minnesota28.1720.3353.8533.52
303Allentown, Pennsylvania28.1927.0846.7833.44
304Springfield, Illinois43.681934.1933.43
305Shreveport, Louisiana38.816.9552.1533.26
306Redding, California26.822.252.9133.25
307Suffolk, Virginia34.544.7919.9733.23
308Sunrise, Florida37.7426.8833.0433.07
309Knoxville, Tennessee37.4326.1633.7632.95
310Columbia, South Carolina29.6220.4949.4832.84
311Riverside, California31.2122.1945.3932.76
312Dallas, Texas29.8518.5150.8732.75
313Rialto, California28.826.2244.4832.73
314New Orleans, Louisiana21.3734.1546.3232.69
315Escondido, California18.9232.1751.3932.64
316Salem, Oregon31.7428.8736.8932.42
317Kansas City, Kansas46.59.6136.332.37
318Tucson, Arizona33.4218.0645.1632.33
319Provo, Utah29.6252.1515.6732.2
320Santa Ana, California22.1129.0148.2232.01
321Gresham, Oregon24.721.4351.9831.9
322Manchester, New Hampshire33.1121.540.5931.87
323New Rochelle, New York12.455039.5931.86
324Norfolk, Virginia31.829.4634.1631.8
325Bakersfield, California35.3916.741.6131.65
326Lowell, Massachusetts22.8540.3434.5831.62
327Hampton, Virginia38.4434.4819.5831.6
328Chico, California22.1931.7144.0231.59
329Concord, California27.2617.3151.1831.45
330Akron, Ohio40.7717.8232.5531.42
331Hammond, Indiana49.2121.9616.9631.36
332Joliet, Illinois32.3541.4819.6231.27
333Moreno Valley, California34.3618.0340.1431.19
334Fort Smith, Arkansas36.1822.2433.3431.14
335Syracuse, New York36.0112.2743.3631.09
336Yakima, Washington37.7519.3233.9931.09
337Lafayette, Louisiana35.519.3536.8231.05
338Grand Rapids, Michigan38.6818.8233.0331.03
339Edinburg, Texas43.0517.4228.3630.95
340Hialeah, Florida14.0726.9957.3530.93
341Fayetteville, Arkansas31.624.7935.9230.86
342Tallahassee, Florida23.0525.0246.7130.74
343Danbury, Connecticut27.3648.2617.6630.72
344Waco, Texas30.3916.5545.130.65
345Bellflower, California14.331.4951.5530.63
346Salt Lake City, Utah29.6125.3236.8730.5
347Hesperia, California33.9122.5733.5230.39
348Honolulu, Hawaii18.214.6761.9230.26
349Baton Rouge, Louisiana34.516.8347.8530.21
350Savannah, Georgia26.718.1846.6930.14
351Bloomington, Indiana18.2949.4126.3930.06
352North Charleston, South Carolina27.9513.8149.0730.05
353Columbia, Missouri33.5919.7435.5930.03
354Reading, Pennsylvania35.1427.4225.7730.01
355Jersey City, New Jersey18.3740.5234.8929.97
356Winston-Salem, North Carolina34.7219.5734.0429.97
357Brownsville, Texas34.0423.3431.0629.94
358Lansing, Michigan39.715.2431.5529.92
359Spokane Valley, Washington31.438.4619.3329.9
360Montgomery, Alabama44.465.8834.4229.87
361Yonkers, New York14.2444.0136.2729.78
362Augusta-Richmond County, Georgia39.330.5316.1329.72
363San Leandro, California23.5513.3754.2529.7
364Citrus Heights, California28.1314.646.8629.69
365Birmingham, Alabama36.915.9743.2329.53
366Macon-Bibb County, Georgia32.899.3144.0129.15
367Pharr, Texas54.8323.9029.1
368Orlando, Florida22.4124.0743.0429.1
369Portsmouth, Virginia38.1230.1815.6629
370Fort Lauderdale, Florida23.1119.8745.5528.87
371Jackson, Mississippi36.116.9940.1228.57
372Waukegan, Illinois32.321.2930.1428.35
373Philadelphia, Pennsylvania28.411.5944.7828.27
374Little Rock, Arkansas35.848.2137.9928.2
375Toledo, Ohio39.9724.9215.5428.13
376Fall River, Massachusetts20.6934.9531.2128.12
377Wilmington, North Carolina22.5933.3330.1128.07
378Antioch, California28.5413.7341.527.99
379Rochester, New York34.6322.2324.4527.86
380Cincinnati, Ohio26.8226.4530.4427.8
381St. Petersburg, Florida32.7814.5633.9827.67
382Los Angeles, California12.9626.8947.727.56
383Pompano Beach, Florida28.7914.3238.927.48
384Oxnard, California21.7514.148.2627.41
385Pomona, California24.0917.0241.7727.27
386Gainesville, Florida2033.8630.3227.25
387Salinas, California26.0711.6744.2127.19
388Pasadena, California20.9725.9336.6627.17
389South Gate, California17.7121.3845.4827.14
390Pueblo, Colorado32.0816.6930.8227.09
391Medford, Oregon24.8324.731.2326.71
392Hollywood, Florida26.3422.1431.7426.7
393Memphis, Tennessee35.1310.7531.0226.58
394Vallejo, California27.989.4641.5426.49
395Fresno, California26.3214.6738.4226.45
396West Palm Beach, Florida32.6514.829.2926.29
397Columbus, Georgia29.7815.3831.9526.11
398Richmond, Virginia22.4625.4331.4526.05
399Santa Maria, California28.1616.6931.925.84
400Modesto, California30.0412.8332.5625.63
401Trenton, New Jersey31.8730.2912.5825.61
402Miami Beach, Florida7.1620.1855.5625.58
403St. Louis, Missouri32.8210.9829.925.39
404Mobile, Alabama40.4412.7917.7925.35
405Victorville, California32.1312.7828.6625.28
406Scranton, Pennsylvania31.8224.6317.1425.26
407Fayetteville, North Carolina34.322.1216.2325.23
408El Cajon, California17.2233.0727.0124.91
409Long Beach, California16.725.7434.9524.89
410Lawrence, Massachusetts15.8919.3341.8224.7
411Stockton, California25.8211.7435.3324.45
412Flint, Michigan53.197.962.424.38
413Chicago, Illinois20.72132.5624.35
414Dayton, Ohio38.2614.714.7924.15
415Richmond, California22.9810.3639.424.12
416Miami Gardens, Florida22.2513.7636.5724
417San Bernardino, California22.567.741.9723.93
418Athens-Clarke County, Georgia20.1624.2828.1923.81
419Compton, California22.7810.1138.5423.71
420Miami, Florida7.2718.2650.9523.68
421Oakland, California18.448.2545.9823.64
422New Bedford, Massachusetts23.3114.9232.3723.51
423Brockton, Massachusetts20.918.8930.6123.21
424Cicero, Illinois20.720.5328.422.96
425Hawthorne, California7.6119.6646.6922.95
426Racine, Wisconsin43.7917.75022.84
427Baltimore, Maryland24.1710.8532.9422.8
428Elizabeth, New Jersey14.0823.7833.2722.75
429Worcester, Massachusetts23.6626.9217.1422.68
430Gary, Indiana36.485.0221.5822.57
431Inglewood, California14.6115.3239.9822.43
432Merced, California22.3614.3929.4322.09
433Greenville, North Carolina22.0523.0220.4621.87
434Albany, New York22.820.3416.1620.07
435Camden, New Jersey28.876.0222.3120.05
436Springfield, Massachusetts26.5413.1416.0619.38
437Milwaukee, Wisconsin30.126.5514.9218.49
438Rockford, Illinois36.5612.68018.43
439Cleveland, Ohio35.624.039.2918.24
440New Haven, Connecticut15.510.527.7917.69
441Providence, Rhode Island20.7814.4515.2817.23
442Hemet, California21.9213.4214.4417.13
443Waterbury, Connecticut24.9310.2312.7616.87
444Newark, New Jersey12.0711.823.2815.35
445Bridgeport, Connecticut17.9812.1114.5615.19
446Detroit, Michigan28.111.1610.9514.88
447Hartford, Connecticut20.057.8411.9713.97
448Paterson, New Jersey6.216.3715.1711.94

Emily Starbuck Crone is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: [email protected]. Twitter: @emstarbuck. Daniel Tonkovich is a data analyst at NerdWallet. Email: [email protected].


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.