First-time Homebuyer Center

Buying a house, especially for the first time, can give you a great deal of satisfaction and fulfillment. Of course, it also means navigating a maze of jargon, hidden agendas and conflicts of interest. It’s easy to feel underprepared, overwhelmed and outgunned as a first time homebuyer.

You’ll deal with real estate agents and mortgage lenders and face acronyms such as FHA, HUD, MLS and HOAs. But the good thing is, with today’s online resources you’ve got more information than ever to make an informed purchase. The downside: It’s hard to tell where the free advice ends and the sales pitch begins. We’ve got your back.

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From finding the right neighborhood to choosing a mortgage and closing the loan, we’ve stripped the lip service to walk you through the process step-by-step. NerdWallet has consulted with experts from around the country. We’ve spoken to people who’ve done the deal, made the mistakes and are eager to share what they’ve learned. And with a staff of hundreds spread across the nation, many of us have been through the homebuying process ourselves.

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Local State Studies

  

Top Places for First-time Homebuyers in Alabama

By Kamran Rosen

Buying a home for the first time can be especially daunting, given that it's usually the biggest financial decision a person will ever make.

First-time homebuyers, who are typically married couples in their 30s, can find themselves in tight financial positions. According to Realtor.com, first-time homebuyers are often working with a budget that’'s 28% less than what repeat homebuyers have to spend.

As more millennials hit their 30s this year, America will increasingly witness one of its largest renting populations enter the homebuying market for the first time.

To help new homebuyers, NerdWallet analyzed how much they could spend on a mortgage and examined the data on appreciation to find the best cities for first-time homebuyers across the country, starting with Alabama.

How much can first-time homebuyers afford?

For our calculations, we assumed the median age of first-time homebuyers is 34, based on 2009 data from the American Housing Survey. Then, we looked at the median household income in Alabama for people ages 25 to 44 as the likely income range for first-time homebuyers.

We assumed a personal savings rate of 4.8%, based on the U.S. 10-year average as measured by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, and estimated how many years it would take for a typical first-time homebuyer in Alabama to make a down payment.

By using the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's recommendation that homeowners shouldn't allocate more than 28% of their monthly income to housing costs, we determined that a first-time homebuyer in Alabama could afford to spend $1,114 a month.

Top places for first-time homebuyers in Alabama

Top Places or First-time Homebuyers in Alabama  

1. Greenville

This city of about 8,000 people, 45 miles south of Montgomery, takes our top spot largely because of its low crime risk rating and a three-year home value appreciation of 22.9%. Even with that strong appreciation, the median home value of $100,000 and monthly ownership costs of $962 are below the state medians. Greenville boasts a diversity of manufacturing businesses, which include wood products and textiles, as well as accessibility to recreation at places such as Sherling Lake.

2. Bay Minette

Located 31 miles from Mobile, Bay Minette has seen its population and home value grow. From 2010 to 2013, the median home value here jumped 18.4% from $94,700 to $112,100, and the population grew 5.5% to 8,495. The median property tax rate was low here, 0.31%, compared with the state median of 0.45%. In addition to its proximity to Mobile's job market, Bay Minette is also near employers in Baldwin County, including Thomas Hospital and UTC Aerospace Systems.

3. Opp

Opp is a strong option for first-time homebuyers with more limited budgets. The median home value of $79,600 was the lowest in our top 10, and its median property tax rate is 0.34%. The median home value in the city grew 20.97% from 2010 to 2013. Opp is attractive for residents who want to be close to a variety of outdoor recreational areas. In addition to nearby Frank Jackson State Park, Opp is 37 miles from Conecuh National Forest and 76 miles from the beaches on Santa Rosa Island.

4. Moores Mill

With a 2013 median home value of $153,700, Moores Mill is one of the more expensive communities on our list. Starting from scratch, it would take a first-time homebuyer in Alabama about 16.6 years to save for a down payment here. Perhaps softening that blow is knowing that home values appreciated 16% from 2010 to 2013. The community also has a crime risk rating of "safe,"" according to NeighborhoodScout data.

5. Roanoke

First-time homebuyers who don't have to be near a major city should consider Roanoke, where the median 2013 home value of $87,800 is almost $40,000 less than the state median and represents a 30.07% increase since 2010. In addition to the more affordable home price, Roanoke's monthly cost for homeowners is $772, which is the lowest in the top 10.

6. Hamilton

Hamilton is a community of 6,858 in northwestern Alabama. Home values increased 8.83%, the smallest gain among the top 10, and the population decreased 0.15%. Still, Hamilton stands out as an attractive option for first-time homebuyers because of its low monthly ownership cost of $868 and median property tax rate of 0.27%. Additionally, Hamilton's crime rating was in NeighborhoodScout's highest tier of "most safe."

7. Lincoln

Lincoln led the state with home value growth of 41.7%, but it also has high monthly ownership costs of $1,281, which topped the recommended housing costs for first-time buyers in Alabama. First-time homeowners may have to save for 13 years or more to buy a home here, given the 2013 home value of $120,700. However, it's worth noting that Lincoln is relatively affordable given its proximity to Birmingham, especially compared with the median home value of $143,900 in nearby Moody and $157,700 in Pell City.

8. Arab

This city of over 8,000 got its name after a misspelling of "Arad" by the U.S. Postal Service in the 1800s. Arab's 2013 median home value of $145,200 is one of only two places in our top 10 cities that's above the state median. Still, it may be worth it for those who can afford it: Arab saw home values grow 16.35% from 2010 to 2013.

9. Tuscumbia

Tuscumbia's 2013 median home value of $92,600 is not only affordable for first-time buyers, but it also represents an 11.43% increase in value since 2010. The city comes in below the state median in its property tax rate of 0.41% and for its monthly owner costs of $1,002. Typical first-time homebuyers have to save for 10 years for a down payment in Tuscumbia and will spend $113 less a month on housing, compared with the maximum recommendation of 28% of income.

10. Tillman's Corner

Among the top 10, this community has the most residents and the fastest growing population. Tillman's Corner's population was 18,717 in 2013, a 13.75% increase since 2010. The increase echoed a healthy home value growth rate of 11.53% during the same period. While home values are a reasonable $113,200, the median property tax rate of 0.45% and monthly owner costs of $1,153 are just slightly above what would be considered healthy for typical first-time homebuyers in Alabama.

 

Top places for first-time homebuyers in Alabama data

RankCity 2013 population 2010-2013 population growth2013 median home valueYears to save for 20% down payment2010-2013 home value growthMedian real estate tax rate2013 selected monthly owner costsCrime risk
1Greenville 8,003 1.00%$100,00010.8122.85%0.48%$962Most Safe
2Bay Minette 8,495 5.50%$112,10012.1118.37%0.31%$958Safe
3Opp 6,682 -0.28%$79,6008.6020.97%0.34%$967Safe
4Moores Mill 5,748 10.39%$153,70016.6116.00%0.34%$1,180Safe
5Roanoke 6,078 -1.23%$87,8009.4930.07%0.38%$772Less Safe
6Hamilton 6,858 -0.15%$91,2009.858.83%0.27%$868Most Safe
7Lincoln 6,269 3.36%$120,70013.0441.67%0.39%$1,281Least Safe
8Arab 8,204 3.48%$145,20015.6916.35%0.34%$1,154Least Safe
9Tuscumbia 8,549 2.81%$92,60010.0111.43%0.41%$1,002Less Safe
10Tillmans Corner 18,717 13.75%$113,20012.2311.53%0.45%$1,153Least Safe
11Scottsboro 14,825 0.20%$122,00013.1814.55%0.42%$987Less Safe
12Fort Payne 14,108 1.77%$95,60010.337.05%0.35%$944Safe
13Harvest 5,192 17.60%$163,60017.68-0.97%0.35%$1,199Most Safe
14Childersburg 5,153 -1.83%$119,30012.8927.73%0.36%$1,172Most Safe
15Moody 11,976 7.52%$143,90015.555.73%0.35%$1,183Most Safe
16Hartselle 14,361 3.76%$131,70014.237.07%0.35%$1,138Most Safe
17Opelika 27,381 5.85%$140,90015.2220.43%0.52%$1,149Less Safe
18Wetumpka 6,924 6.85%$139,00015.023.89%0.32%$1,099Least Safe
19Troy 18,289 6.29%$161,10017.4112.50%0.30%$1,243Least Safe
20Athens 22,789 8.22%$139,90015.124.25%0.38%$1,112Safe
21Enterprise 27,092 7.15%$161,80017.4815.57%0.45%$1,283Safe
22Sheffield 9,046 -1.04%$83,6009.037.46%0.36%$963Least Safe
23Calera 12,054 16.19%$138,70014.99-0.57%0.53%$1,151Most Safe
24Florence 39,530 1.83%$117,80012.7313.05%0.49%$1,069Less Safe
25Alexander City 14,864 -0.10%$101,20010.938.47%0.36%$991Less Safe
26Albertville 21,281 4.09%$105,20011.375.41%0.42%$1,023Safe
27Ozark 14,879 -0.20%$102,00011.028.05%0.46%$983Least Safe
28Jackson 5,178 -1.91%$90,0009.724.17%0.27%$1,024Less Safe
29Prattville 33,983 5.79%$149,90016.203.88%0.32%$1,251Safe
30Pell City 12,940 5.77%$157,70017.048.76%0.34%$1,288Less Safe
31Boaz 9,661 5.61%$102,90011.121.58%0.53%$1,020Safe
32Dothan 66,972 4.16%$138,00014.914.23%0.35%$1,114Safe
33Meridianville 6,244 5.96%$165,20017.853.44%0.40%$1,252Most Safe
34Fultondale 8,477 4.74%$128,00013.835.79%0.54%$1,177Most Safe
35Demopolis 7,366 -2.69%$138,50014.9716.00%0.38%$1,147Less Safe
36Saks 10,488 -6.10%$92,80010.03-2.01%0.33%$1,000Most Safe
37Northport 23,780 5.50%$161,50017.453.73%0.35%$1,262Safe
38Muscle Shoals 13,286 2.31%$128,70013.912.55%0.37%$1,136Less Safe
39Southside 8,365 0.30%$153,60016.601.39%0.40%$1,221Most Safe
40Oxford 21,287 1.53%$120,60013.033.52%0.43%$1,099Less Safe
41Pike Road 6,067 19.62%$251,00027.12-0.32%0.34%$1,630Most Safe
42Russellville 9,814 2.25%$90,1009.742.74%0.51%$906Safe
43Valley 9,469 -0.61%$79,4008.58-4.34%0.34%$879Least Safe
44Robertsdale 5,431 7.50%$125,80013.59-3.68%0.38%$1,188Less Safe
45Helena 16,956 9.66%$178,20019.26-0.89%0.50%$1,428Most Safe
46Spanish Fort 7,145 7.87%$207,90022.467.72%0.37%$1,644Most Safe
47Daleville 5,244 1.69%$92,5009.99-2.32%0.49%$931Most Safe
48Millbrook 14,714 4.85%$141,90015.33-3.07%0.32%$1,142Less Safe
49Cullman 14,863 1.21%$126,80013.702.01%0.37%$1,113Less Safe
50Selma 20,391 -0.97%$83,9009.078.68%0.47%$966Least Safe
51Satsuma 6,139 1.35%$154,90016.746.17%0.55%$1,314Most Safe
52Lanett 6,470 -3.75%$77,9008.424.56%0.36%$922Least Safe
53Montevallo 6,420 5.23%$161,50017.458.75%0.47%$1,303Safe
54Grayson Valley 5,314 3.77%$112,20012.12-3.36%0.57%$1,093Most Safe
55Phenix City 34,737 9.57%$116,20012.564.40%0.62%$1,074Least Safe
56Leeds 12,269 8.44%$137,70014.88-0.07%0.51%$1,118Less Safe
57Huntsville 182,317 3.93%$158,40017.127.90%0.53%$1,184Less Safe
58Saraland 13,582 3.11%$134,10014.493.07%0.52%$1,150Less Safe
59Andalusia 9,051 0.59%$90,4009.77-4.84%0.32%$971Less Safe
60Guntersville 8,256 2.22%$163,70017.694.00%0.35%$1,158Least Safe
61Chelsea 10,612 15.32%$201,00021.72-6.90%0.49%$1,584Most Safe
62Gadsden 36,794 -0.99%$71,2007.690.28%0.47%$943Least Safe
63Jasper 14,295 -0.08%$140,30015.163.62%0.33%$1,252Least Safe
64Talladega 15,966 -0.17%$82,0008.86-3.64%0.40%$909Least Safe
65Foley 15,019 10.68%$162,60017.57-5.36%0.32%$1,188Less Safe
66Hueytown 16,005 -0.17%$114,50012.375.05%0.62%$1,177Safe
67Montgomery 204,760 -0.01%$119,20012.880.93%0.40%$1,145Less Safe
68Pinson 7,145 0.03%$135,30014.62-0.95%0.52%$1,188Safe
69Pelham 21,701 6.66%$164,80017.81-1.32%0.57%$1,354Most Safe
70Tuscaloosa 92,461 5.47%$163,50017.676.17%0.48%$1,319Less Safe
71Atmore 10,139 1.31%$91,0009.83-3.60%0.37%$1,156Safe
72Clay 9,699 1.81%$165,40017.87-1.37%0.55%$1,384Most Safe
73Tarrant 6,374 -2.30%$73,9007.997.41%0.71%$930Least Safe
74Alabaster 30,719 3.96%$162,70017.580.56%0.53%$1,386Most Safe
75Forestdale 10,688 -1.14%$122,00013.18-1.05%0.51%$1,234Safe
76Monroeville 6,416 -2.63%$91,1009.84-5.10%0.27%$976Least Safe
77Sylacauga 12,775 -0.11%$120,60013.032.03%0.49%$1,105Less Safe
78Rainbow City 9,612 2.30%$148,60016.06-6.31%0.36%$1,206Safe
79Decatur 55,776 0.95%$120,40013.01-4.14%0.45%$1,051Less Safe
80Anniston 22,947 -1.50%$92,60010.010.54%0.50%$1,020Least Safe
81Attalla 6,031 -1.82%$63,4006.85-9.82%0.50%$904Safe
82Smiths Station 5,035 0.68%$108,20011.69-12.03%0.45%$1,093Most Safe
83Oneonta 6,614 2.49%$115,60012.49-6.32%0.44%$1,135Safe
84Bessemer 27,336 -1.75%$88,5009.568.32%0.65%$1,106Least Safe
85Prichard 22,596 -4.25%$66,4007.170.76%0.49%$946Least Safe
86Irondale 12,342 1.33%$129,00013.94-2.71%0.53%$1,136Safe
87Clanton 8,674 1.40%$101,90011.01-6.51%0.44%$983Least Safe
88Trussville 19,936 7.13%$228,70024.712.69%0.53%$1,644Most Safe
89Glencoe 5,139 0.63%$110,70011.96-13.79%0.35%$1,211Most Safe
90Gardendale 13,779 2.68%$163,50017.67-0.24%0.51%$1,341Less Safe
91Eufaula 13,038 -1.44%$125,50013.56-5.00%0.40%$1,043Less Safe
92Chickasaw 6,073 -0.90%$84,7009.150.00%0.54%$1,016Least Safe
93Theodore 5,895 -4.10%$116,30012.57-3.33%0.48%$1,068Less Safe
94Tuskegee 9,556 -6.21%$80,0008.64-3.85%0.50%$891Least Safe
95Auburn 55,404 8.51%$213,40023.063.79%0.52%$1,551Safe
96Mobile 195,116 -0.26%$124,30013.433.07%0.59%$1,223Least Safe
97Midfield 5,337 -0.87%$77,1008.33-3.26%0.65%$1,031Least Safe
98Madison 44,044 9.31%$229,40024.792.32%0.55%$1,594Safe
99Pleasant Grove 10,193 1.44%$150,40016.25-3.16%0.74%$1,327Most Safe
100Center Point 16,927 0.70%$107,00011.56-1.20%0.62%$1,182Less Safe
101Brewton 5,423 0.59%$95,30010.30-15.36%0.47%$899Least Safe
102Daphne 22,396 7.59%$180,00019.45-6.44%0.48%$1,588Most Safe
103Jacksonville 12,475 5.80%$129,30013.97-7.97%0.42%$1,263Less Safe
104Birmingham 212,295 -1.89%$85,8009.270.00%0.72%$1,097Least Safe
105Meadowbrook 8,787 0.17%$268,50029.01-1.83%0.41%$1,718Most Safe
106Fairhope 16,100 7.86%$243,40026.30-2.25%0.46%$1,624Safe
107Vestavia Hills 33,993 2.07%$338,10036.536.25%0.85%$1,981Most Safe
108Fairfield 11,071 -1.89%$93,10010.06-6.34%0.85%$1,099Least Safe
109Hoover 82,264 4.74%$262,50028.360.19%0.68%$1,847Safe
110Gulf Shores 10,222 13.14%$198,40021.44-22.56%0.42%$1,653Least Safe
111Brook Highland 6,819 4.12%$340,20036.76-11.75%0.43%$2,073Safe
112Orange Beach 5,528 6.62%$237,20025.63-44.06%0.43%$1,863Safe
113Mountain Brook 20,416 0.17%$542,80058.65-4.18%0.90%$2,761Most Safe
114Homewood 25,288 0.84%$275,70029.79-7.02%0.67%$1,719Safe
   

Methodology

We evaluated all cities and census-designated places in Alabama with populations of 4,000 or more. All housing and demographic data is from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey. Our score is based on these factors:

Value appreciation is 40% of the score. To determine value appreciation, we looked at the average growth rate for both population and home value from 2010 to 2013. Within this total, home value appreciation is 70% and population growth is 30% of the score.

Housing cost is 40% of the score. To determine housing cost, we averaged the median property tax rate, how long it would take a first-time homebuyer to save 20% of the median home price, and the difference in selected monthly ownership costs of each location and the recommended $1,114 in Alabama. Based on the assumption that Americans on average bought their first home at age 34, we looked at the 25-44 age group's income, which in Alabama is $47,774. Personal savings rate is from the U.S. 10-year average, as published by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

Prosperity and safety is 20% of the score. To determine prosperity, we looked at the percentage of families living in poverty in each city. For safety, a crime risk index was provided by NeighborhoodScout. We grouped the index, with scores from 0-100, into categories of "most safe, "safe," "less safe" and "least safe." To find out more about how the crime score is calculated, go to NeighborhoodScout.com.

  Huntsville, Alabama, image via iStock.
  

Top Places for First-time Homebuyers in New Jersey

By Jonathan Todd

It's hard to beat the urban appeal of places like Brooklyn, where even former residents feel the need to make frequent trips back to the borough, according to the New York Times. But for many first-time homebuyers tired of city living and wanting more space and affordability, New Jersey is becoming their home.

Each year, about 42,700 people move from New York to New Jersey, while around 38,400 move from New Jersey to New York, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The net migration to the Garden State of about 4,300 is the biggest of any state to New Jersey.

To help first-time homebuyers, NerdWallet analyzed how much they could spend on a mortgage and examined the data on appreciation to find the best cities in New Jersey to call home.

How much can first-time homebuyers afford?

We assumed a personal savings rate of 4.8%, based on the U.S. 10-year average as measured by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, and starting with nothing saved, we estimated how many years it could take to save for a 20% down payment. But the actual number of years of savings will vary depending on each individual's financial situation.

By following the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's recommendation that homeowners shouldn't allocate more than 28% of their monthly income to housing costs, we determined that a first-time homebuyer in New Jersey could afford to spend $1,824 a month.

Top places for first-time homebuyers in New Jersey

Top Places for First-Time Homebuyers in New Jersey

1. Monroe Township (Middlesex County)

Monroe Township, located in Middlesex County in the north-central part of the state, has been a popular place in recent years. The population grew 7.64% from 2010 to 2013, by far the largest growth in the top 10, and the median property tax rate of 1.83% is significantly lower than the statewide median of 2.24%. Median ownership costs, which include mortgage payments, taxes and utilities, are relatively high at $2,562 a month — about $738 more than a typical first-time homebuyer here should allocate to housing costs. But the higher cost may be digestible on a New York salary: a train from nearby New Brunswick gets you to midtown Manhattan in under an hour.

2. Lower Township (Cape May County)

Lower Township, located at the very southern tip of the Cape May peninsula, offers unmatched affordability among the top 10 cities and views that are hard to beat. A median homeowner in Lower Township can expect to allocate $1,657 a month to ownership costs, or $167 less than the recommended housing allocation. With that savings, you could buy world-class binoculars to start training for the World Series of Birding, which is held on the peninsula.

3. Florence Township (Burlington County)

Located on the banks of the Delaware River just south of Trenton, Florence Township has the lowest barrier to homeowner entry: a 20% down payment on a median home is $45,160. The typical first-time homebuyer here, starting from scratch, would need 14 years — the shortest duration in the top 10 — to save enough for the down payment. The township's affordability has been a draw in recent years, as the population grew 2.16% from 2010 to 2013.

4. Upper Township (Cape May County)

Upper Township, the second Cape May County municipality to rank in the top 10, is a bit pricier than Lower Township, with a median home value of $319,700, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2013 American Community Survey. However, this is still cheaper than the statewide median of $320,350. Upper Township is also located among some of the state's best recreational areas — the Cape May National Wildlife Refuge is located in the township, which features a beautiful and secluded beach to explore.

5. Lacey Township (Ocean County)

This South Jersey township of nearly 28,000 people hugs Barnegat Bay, the body of water that separates it from Island Beach State Park, one of only a few undeveloped barrier beaches on the East Coast. In spite of its location, Lacey Township remains relatively affordable — it would take about 17.2 years of saving for a down payment, which is below the statewide median of 19.9 years.

6. Franklin Township (Gloucester County)

Franklin Township in Gloucester County gives residents easy access to Philadelphia, which is just 32 miles to the north, while offering a quick escape to the outdoors to places such as Parvin State Park, Winslow Fish and Wildlife Management Area and Glassboro Fish and Wildlife Management Area, which are some of South Jersey's best recreational offerings. Even with this combination of city and country, it would take 14.2 years of saving for a down payment, the second-shortest duration in the top 10.

7. Plainsboro Township (Middlesex County)

With a median home value of $439,500, Plainsboro Township is one of the pricier places in the top 10. The township is next to Princeton Junction, where a train trip to Penn Station and New York's job market takes less than an hour. After returning from the busy streets of Manhattan, residents can escape to the Plainsboro Preserve, a 1,000-acre setting of lakes and trails.

8. Hammonton (Atlantic County)

This South Jersey town of about 14,800 is adjacent to Winslow Fish and Wildlife Management Area and Wharton State Forest, a couple of the state's best outdoors settings. And with monthly homeownership costs of $1,993, one of the lowest in the top 10, Hammonton is a great choice for active homebuyers on a budget.

9. Florham Park (Morris County)

Located 30 miles west of Manhattan, Florham Park is a destination for homeowners seeking relief from New York City's real estate market. A median home is valued at $627,800, making it one of the more expensive communities on the list. But with a median property tax of 1.32%, Florham's rate is the third lowest in the state. It may be relatively expensive, but it's a fraction of the median sale price of $980,000 in Manhattan.

10. Little Falls Township (Passaic County)

Little Falls Township is about 15 miles north of Florham Park, but with a median home value of $372,900, homeownership is within reach for a larger swath of potential buyers. The area's relative affordability may explain why the population grew 4% from 2010 to 2013. Residents also have easy access to Manhattan via the Montclair-Boonton train line, which has a stop on the Montclair State University campus in Little Falls.

Top places for first-time homebuyers in New Jersey data

Rank City County 2013 population 2010-2013 population growth 2013 median home value Years to save for 20% down payment 2010-2013 home value growth Median real estate tax rate 2013 select monthly ownership costs
1 Monroe Township Middlesex County 40,011 7.64% $333,900 20.76 -3.86% 1.83% $2,562
2 Lower Township Cape May County 22,696 -0.17% $247,400 15.38 -3.66% 1.35% $1,657
3 Florence Township Burlington County 12,243 2.16% $225,800 14.04 -5.25% 2.35% $1,850
4 Upper Township Cape May County 12,277 0.16% $319,700 19.88 -3.47% 1.41% $2,055
5 Lacey Township Ocean County 27,775 1.11% $276,700 17.21 -4.88% 1.54% $2,088
6 Franklin Township Gloucester County 16,791 0.28% $228,600 14.21 -2.60% 2.31% $2,078
7 Plainsboro Township Middlesex County 23,063 2.51% $439,500 27.33 -0.11% 2.16% $2,954
8 Hammonton Atlantic County 14,781 0.86% $241,400 15.01 -4.70% 2.11% $1,993
9 Florham Park Morris County 11,753 2.25% $627,800 39.04 0.11% 1.32% $3,050
10 Little Falls Township Passaic County 14,431 4.00% $372,900 23.19 -1.74% 2.22% $2,499
11 Monroe Township Gloucester County 36,386 3.38% $220,400 13.70 -3.38% 2.88% $2,192
12 Beachwood Ocean County 11,105 0.83% $251,200 15.62 -6.62% 1.74% $2,013
13 Collingswood Camden County 13,914 -0.78% $241,500 15.02 0.96% 2.74% $2,128
14 Totowa Passaic County 10,833 2.26% $373,100 23.20 -3.82% 1.99% $2,475
15 Harrison Township Gloucester County 12,495 5.30% $330,000 20.52 -5.82% 2.43% $2,712
16 South Brunswick Township Middlesex County 43,877 3.52% $390,700 24.29 -5.22% 2.04% $2,697
17 Edgewater Bergen County 11,706 8.73% $556,000 34.57 0.63% 1.29% $3,489
18 Pemberton Township Burlington County 27,951 -1.11% $186,300 11.58 -3.47% 1.92% $1,672
19 Southampton Township Burlington County 10,447 -0.95% $220,700 13.72 -6.01% 2.18% $1,780
20 South Plainfield Middlesex County 23,543 1.96% $330,900 20.58 -6.87% 1.94% $2,371
21 Cinnaminson Township Burlington County 16,041 3.27% $283,500 17.63 -6.99% 2.44% $2,260
22 Franklin Township Somerset County 63,274 4.84% $329,700 20.50 -7.98% 2.09% $2,418
23 Mount Laurel Township Burlington County 41,848 -0.18% $255,900 15.91 -5.78% 2.23% $2,014
24 Madison Morris County 16,021 1.10% $638,400 39.70 -0.47% 1.43% $3,277
25 Metuchen Middlesex County 13,640 1.56% $387,800 24.11 -3.75% 2.16% $2,615
26 Jackson Township Ocean County 55,254 4.03% $330,200 20.53 -8.81% 1.96% $2,401
27 Barnegat Township Ocean County 21,261 5.92% $258,000 16.04 -9.54% 2.12% $2,050
28 Galloway Township Atlantic County 37,356 2.21% $240,700 14.97 -7.39% 2.20% $1,906
29 Deptford Township Gloucester County 30,565 1.29% $199,000 12.37 -5.69% 2.36% $1,853
30 Hamilton Township Mercer County 88,648 0.27% $260,700 16.21 -5.54% 2.34% $2,036
31 Moorestown Township Burlington County 20,709 0.64% $477,800 29.71 -1.28% 1.91% $3,118
32 Waterford Township Camden County 10,711 0.38% $212,500 13.21 -4.49% 2.85% $1,905
33 Mantua Township Gloucester County 15,177 -0.04% $219,300 13.64 -4.86% 2.69% $2,032
34 Middlesex Middlesex County 13,703 0.37% $321,100 19.97 -7.20% 2.21% $2,310
35 Millville Cumberland County 28,598 1.65% $170,900 10.63 -2.51% 2.61% $1,718
36 Old Bridge Township Middlesex County 65,793 2.02% $337,400 20.98 -7.23% 1.94% $2,471
37 Camden Camden County 77,356 -0.89% $86,400 5.37 -2.15% 2.00% $1,084
38 Cranford Township Union County 22,846 1.93% $456,700 28.40 -5.05% 2.04% $2,731
39 Middle Township Cape May County 18,864 2.67% $258,600 16.08 -10.89% 1.52% $1,964
40 Berkeley Township Ocean County 41,458 0.20% $175,300 10.90 -11.73% 1.75% $1,647
41 Manalapan Township Monmouth County 39,235 3.44% $433,400 26.95 -6.29% 1.90% $2,772
42 Clark Township Union County 14,882 1.94% $433,000 26.92 -5.13% 1.99% $2,614
43 Hillsborough Township Somerset County 38,752 1.84% $401,300 24.95 -5.53% 2.09% $2,663
44 Lakewood Township Ocean County 92,586 5.59% $280,100 17.42 -2.06% 1.98% $2,108
45 North Brunswick Township Middlesex County 41,480 3.91% $300,800 18.70 -8.99% 2.33% $2,399
46 Edison Township Middlesex County 100,513 0.96% $362,600 22.55 -5.15% 2.04% $2,524
47 Winslow Township Camden County 39,295 1.88% $212,400 13.21 -7.41% 2.82% $2,004
48 Gloucester City Camden County 11,443 -0.31% $147,500 9.17 -4.72% 2.63% $1,492
49 Haddon Township Camden County 14,681 -0.39% $242,100 15.05 -5.02% 2.85% $2,111
50 Bordentown Township Burlington County 11,356 3.83% $279,700 17.39 -11.74% 2.51% $2,263
51 Secaucus Hudson County 17,106 6.86% $403,800 25.11 -9.30% 1.45% $2,549
52 Hanover Township Morris County 13,886 1.94% $474,000 29.47 -7.71% 1.46% $2,630
53 Lumberton Township Burlington County 12,517 1.97% $283,800 17.65 -9.99% 2.14% $2,483
54 Neptune Township Monmouth County 27,902 -0.08% $313,900 19.52 -5.85% 1.89% $2,249
55 Little Egg Harbor Township Ocean County 20,185 3.62% $233,800 14.54 -10.76% 1.88% $1,890
56 Sayreville Middlesex County 43,356 2.55% $313,600 19.50 -8.84% 2.01% $2,369
57 Ewing Township Mercer County 36,125 0.79% $234,400 14.57 -8.19% 2.55% $2,083
58 Parsippany-Troy Hills Township Morris County 53,483 1.19% $416,100 25.87 -6.03% 1.88% $2,701
59 West Deptford Township Gloucester County 21,605 0.74% $211,600 13.16 -8.64% 2.27% $1,940
60 Egg Harbor Township Atlantic County 43,403 4.85% $241,100 14.99 -11.20% 2.36% $2,135
61 Manchester Township Ocean County 43,099 1.03% $133,300 8.29 -15.37% 1.88% $1,587
62 Piscataway Township Middlesex County 56,915 3.48% $327,800 20.38 -9.62% 2.08% $2,477
63 Gloucester Township Camden County 64,531 0.07% $213,300 13.26 -6.12% 2.99% $2,110
64 Tinton Falls Monmouth County 17,883 2.00% $311,000 19.34 -11.09% 1.94% $2,401
65 Rockaway Township Morris County 24,276 1.07% $352,700 21.93 -7.74% 2.41% $2,641
66 Sparta Township Sussex County 19,621 -0.11% $406,400 25.27 -3.67% 2.30% $3,022
67 Vineland Cumberland County 60,857 1.58% $171,700 10.68 -6.89% 2.30% $1,665
68 Lyndhurst Township Bergen County 20,841 2.96% $377,100 23.45 -8.87% 1.90% $2,499
69 Pennsauken Township Camden County 35,861 -0.19% $174,500 10.85 -7.08% 2.67% $1,728
70 Toms River Township Ocean County 91,690 0.00% $295,100 18.35 -10.44% 1.51% $2,178
71 Wantage Township Sussex County 11,272 -0.25% $317,100 19.72 -8.09% 2.12% $2,371
72 Woolwich Township Gloucester County 10,541 17.32% $340,400 21.17 -8.91% 2.62% $2,871
73 Point Pleasant Ocean County 18,466 -1.27% $351,200 21.84 -8.25% 1.69% $2,195
74 East Brunswick Township Middlesex County 47,736 0.69% $372,200 23.14 -5.44% 2.32% $2,652
75 Bridgewater Township Somerset County 44,717 1.09% $448,000 27.86 -6.59% 1.83% $2,744
76 Dumont Bergen County 17,600 1.23% $374,600 23.29 -6.23% 2.50% $2,726
77 Freehold Township Monmouth County 36,070 1.81% $398,300 24.77 -7.52% 2.02% $2,734
78 Medford Township Burlington County 23,138 0.23% $373,600 23.23 -6.25% 2.41% $2,666
79 West Caldwell Township Essex County 10,795 0.21% $462,900 28.78 -3.72% 1.95% $2,969
80 Branchburg Township Somerset County 14,526 0.30% $443,500 27.58 -6.69% 1.97% $2,828
81 Manville Somerset County 10,400 0.35% $273,500 17.01 -7.91% 2.46% $2,144
82 Brick Township Ocean County 75,402 -0.66% $273,800 17.02 -9.90% 1.86% $2,115
83 Hamilton Township Atlantic County 26,568 3.61% $201,200 12.51 -12.06% 2.20% $1,792
84 Fort Lee Bergen County 35,617 1.30% $337,900 21.01 -7.45% 1.83% $2,467
85 Highland Park Middlesex County 14,136 1.04% $366,000 22.76 -3.25% 2.51% $2,670
86 Delran Township Burlington County 16,874 0.60% $263,300 16.37 -8.80% 2.66% $2,166
87 Jefferson Township Morris County 21,401 1.46% $343,500 21.36 -8.42% 2.20% $2,609
88 Little Ferry Bergen County 10,723 1.14% $348,900 21.69 -6.13% 2.35% $2,596
89 Washington Township Gloucester County 48,432 -1.19% $244,900 15.23 -8.28% 2.68% $2,155
90 Maple Shade Township Burlington County 19,130 -0.73% $199,000 12.37 -8.55% 2.73% $1,797
91 Springfield Township Union County 16,249 4.97% $424,200 26.38 -8.77% 2.14% $2,965
92 Aberdeen Township Monmouth County 18,192 0.47% $310,700 19.32 -9.15% 2.42% $2,369
93 Elmwood Park Bergen County 19,685 2.45% $372,500 23.16 -7.27% 2.10% $2,544
94 Bellmawr Camden County 11,558 -0.47% $179,500 11.16 -5.97% 3.11% $1,814
95 Paramus Bergen County 26,454 1.42% $552,700 34.37 -7.05% 1.35% $3,042
96 Union Township Union County 56,915 2.12% $326,300 20.29 -8.85% 2.26% $2,541
97 Raritan Township Hunterdon County 22,145 0.73% $415,000 25.80 -8.06% 2.20% $2,752
98 North Arlington Bergen County 15,492 1.45% $364,100 22.64 -5.92% 2.42% $2,580
99 Hazlet Township Monmouth County 20,297 -1.18% $315,200 19.60 -8.80% 2.18% $2,353
100 Cherry Hill Township Camden County 71,094 0.18% $274,600 17.07 -7.82% 2.97% $2,384
101 East Windsor Township Mercer County 27,295 1.78% $294,900 18.34 -7.84% 2.63% $2,521
102 Evesham Township Burlington County 45,663 0.70% $280,400 17.44 -10.56% 2.59% $2,307
103 Westwood Bergen County 10,970 0.89% $431,500 26.83 -6.09% 2.03% $2,916
104 Stafford Township Ocean County 26,689 2.54% $282,900 17.59 -15.02% 1.95% $2,159
105 Denville Township Morris County 16,751 1.31% $389,000 24.19 -11.45% 1.94% $2,715
106 Ringwood Passaic County 12,273 0.90% $366,700 22.80 -8.00% 2.52% $2,724
107 Woodbridge Township Middlesex County 99,930 0.82% $308,600 19.19 -9.90% 2.16% $2,326
108 Mahwah Township Bergen County 26,042 2.44% $452,300 28.12 -11.59% 1.54% $2,777
109 Morris Township Morris County 22,480 1.16% $553,600 34.42 -7.41% 1.61% $2,972
110 Middletown Township Monmouth County 66,423 -0.43% $398,300 24.77 -8.12% 1.87% $2,753
111 Wallington Bergen County 11,432 0.92% $389,800 24.24 -3.99% 1.95% $2,917
112 Hoboken Hudson County 50,929 7.48% $550,700 34.24 -3.88% 1.54% $3,236
113 Clifton Passaic County 84,591 2.19% $343,000 21.33 -7.25% 2.42% $2,690
114 Wall Township Monmouth County 26,106 0.37% $439,300 27.32 -8.90% 1.71% $2,693
115 Rahway Union County 27,701 2.72% $300,400 18.68 -9.38% 2.36% $2,429
116 Lincoln Park Morris County 10,535 -0.89% $339,200 21.09 -7.83% 2.27% $2,555
117 Harrison Hudson County 14,025 3.36% $321,000 19.96 -5.87% 2.26% $2,635
118 Fair Lawn Bergen County 32,659 1.59% $394,600 24.54 -8.45% 2.26% $2,849
119 Verona Township Essex County 13,412 0.86% $412,700 25.66 -8.94% 2.29% $2,926
120 Pennsville Township Salem County 13,310 -0.75% $168,000 10.45 -8.10% 2.96% $1,678
121 Garfield Bergen County 30,748 1.85% $343,200 21.34 -7.72% 2.00% $2,272
122 Pequannock Township Morris County 15,537 1.92% $392,800 24.42 -13.48% 1.99% $2,561
123 Rutherford Bergen County 18,201 1.29% $428,300 26.63 -6.77% 2.32% $2,885
124 Howell Township Monmouth County 51,198 0.83% $324,600 20.18 -10.38% 2.24% 2,595
125 Glassboro Gloucester County 18,753 -0.31% $208,000 12.93 -7.96% 2.96% 1,921
126 West Milford Township Passaic County 26,300 2.12% $303,100 18.85 -11.86% 2.80% 2,524
127 Morristown Morris County 18,432 -0.14% $382,500 23.78 -2.80% 2.24% 2,590
128 New Milford Bergen County 16,433 1.06% $408,800 25.42 -7.66% 2.23% 3,000
129 Ridgefield Bergen County 11,112 1.58% $510,900 31.77 -8.69% 1.58% 2,973
130 Voorhees Township Camden County 29,261 0.73% $306,400 19.05 -10.01% 2.92% 2,511
131 Bound Brook Somerset County 10,462 0.61% $280,300 17.43 -8.43% 2.90% 2,436
132 Burlington Township Burlington County 22,579 0.91% $274,100 17.04 -12.37% 2.41% 2,332
133 Pine Hill Camden County 10,353 -0.01% $161,200 10.02 -4.50% 3.57% 1,733
134 Belleville Township Essex County 36,010 0.73% $293,400 18.24 -9.83% 2.61% 2,525
135 Weehawken Township Hudson County 12,829 1.78% $499,000 31.03 -7.59% 1.68% 2,887
136 Wanaque Passaic County 11,142 2.30% $313,800 19.51 -13.51% 2.62% 2,472
137 Freehold Monmouth County 12,051 1.18% $277,000 17.22 -9.74% 2.28% 2,231
138 Keansburg Monmouth County 10,064 -1.59% $221,800 13.79 -4.56% 2.12% 2,051
139 Eatontown Monmouth County 12,449 -3.79% $322,100 20.03 -9.11% 1.98% 2,372
140 Mount Olive Township Morris County 28,321 3.05% $363,900 22.63 -11.03% 2.64% 2,965
141 Cedar Grove Township Essex County 12,450 1.12% $443,700 27.59 -11.03% 1.89% 2,873
142 Teaneck Township Bergen County 39,994 1.30% $396,600 24.66 -7.66% 2.52% 2,968
143 Hawthorne Passaic County 18,868 1.58% $375,000 23.32 -10.50% 2.29% 2,718
144 Red Bank Monmouth County 12,207 0.63% $357,700 22.24 -7.31% 1.84% 2,316
145 Hasbrouck Heights Bergen County 11,896 1.31% $426,700 26.53 -8.84% 2.25% 2,762
146 Vernon Township Sussex County 23,450 -3.80% $258,100 16.05 -11.06% 2.46% 2,103
147 Palisades Park Bergen County 19,814 3.93% $528,600 32.87 -7.62% 1.62% 3,125
148 Nutley Township Essex County 28,437 1.49% $369,400 22.97 -10.19% 2.59% 2,878
149 Lawrence Township Mercer County 33,228 1.42% $295,200 18.36 -15.29% 2.25% 2,315
150 Somerville Somerset County 12,165 -0.19% $287,700 17.89 -10.49% 2.83% 2,426
151 North Plainfield Somerset County 22,001 0.31% $280,800 17.46 -7.78% 2.99% 2,474
152 Roxbury Township Morris County 23,444 0.24% $347,300 21.59 -12.50% 2.34% 2,612
153 Dover Morris County 18,257 0.19% $269,800 16.78 -16.16% 2.22% 2,213
154 Ridgefield Park Bergen County 12,819 1.02% $341,500 21.23 -10.58% 2.62% 2,810
155 Kearny Hudson County 41,123 2.28% $331,300 20.60 -10.39% 2.56% 2,577
156 South River Middlesex County 16,079 1.37% $288,100 17.91 -15.01% 1.93% 2,259
157 Bergenfield Bergen County 26,933 1.57% $348,600 21.68 -8.60% 2.62% 2,781
158 Saddle Brook Township Bergen County 13,741 1.88% $380,400 23.65 -13.78% 1.94% 2,460
159 Bloomfield Township Essex County 47,471 0.78% $329,800 20.51 -9.50% 2.79% 2,654
160 Bridgeton Cumberland County 25,271 0.91% $112,900 7.02 -8.66% 3.13% 1,443
161 Pleasantville Atlantic County 20,391 0.90% $157,100 9.77 -8.98% 2.47% 1,773
162 Pompton Lakes Passaic County 11,126 1.46% $327,100 20.34 -12.80% 2.93% 2,618
163 Jersey City Hudson County 251,717 3.48% $328,100 20.40 -8.96% 1.94% 2,657
164 Ocean City Cape May County 11,640 -5.28% $554,700 34.49 -10.72% 0.76% 2,444
165 Hopatcong Sussex County 15,053 -2.51% $248,500 15.45 -13.60% 2.45% 2,195
166 Bayonne Hudson County 63,819 2.89% $332,700 20.69 -8.50% 2.59% 2,742
167 Woodbury Gloucester County 10,147 -1.29% $172,300 10.71 -8.59% 3.49% 1,908
168 Somers Point Atlantic County 10,807 -2.09% $239,000 14.86 -10.62% 2.12% 1,958
169 Cliffside Park Bergen County 24,110 3.19% $393,700 24.48 -11.71% 1.82% 2,729
170 Ventnor City Atlantic County 10,681 -4.21% $326,200 20.28 -10.36% 1.84% 1,963
171 Willingboro Township Burlington County 31,772 -1.23% $169,500 10.54 -13.34% 3.16% 1,883
172 Linden Union County 40,732 1.91% $287,500 17.88 -14.41% 2.47% 2,360
173 Englewood Bergen County 27,308 1.79% $386,300 24.02 -11.24% 1.98% 2,766
174 Ocean Township Monmouth County 27,272 0.05% $391,100 24.32 -11.60% 1.93% 2,702
175 Washington Township Morris County 18,634 1.15% $436,200 27.12 -14.72% 2.24% 2,995
176 Lindenwold Camden County 17,573 -0.16% $143,800 8.94 -7.29% 3.55% 1,578
177 Woodland Park Passaic County 11,985 3.24% $360,400 22.41 -14.82% 2.51% 2,778
178 Guttenberg Hudson County 11,270 2.83% $325,300 20.23 -11.96% 2.32% 2,833
179 East Hanover Township Morris County 11,236 0.04% $508,300 31.61 -13.44% 1.32% 2,843
180 Long Branch Monmouth County 30,614 -0.78% $337,900 21.01 -11.89% 1.76% 2,267
181 Roselle Park Union County 13,384 1.56% $283,500 17.63 -17.18% 2.93% 2,437
182 Fairview Bergen County 13,988 2.43% $389,900 24.24 -9.58% 2.21% 2,905
183 New Brunswick Middlesex County 55,275 2.49% $248,100 15.43 -13.22% 1.83% 2,129
184 Phillipsburg Warren County 14,819 -2.49% $161,600 10.05 -10.92% 2.43% 1,578
185 Carteret Middlesex County 23,487 4.64% $260,000 16.17 -19.45% 2.42% 2,168
186 Hillside Township Union County 21,538 1.24% $268,600 16.70 -9.99% 2.94% 2,551
187 Trenton Mercer County 84,609 -0.67% $115,800 7.20 -11.60% 2.97% 1,468
188 Asbury Park Monmouth County 16,000 -1.69% $321,300 19.98 -11.00% 1.65% 2,195
189 North Bergen Township Hudson County 61,434 3.15% $305,600 19.00 -18.42% 2.08% 2,551
190 Lodi Bergen County 24,278 1.28% $356,300 22.15 -14.45% 2.45% 2,612
191 Passaic Passaic County 70,172 1.73% $328,400 20.42 -9.21% 2.72% 2,789
192 West New York Hudson County 50,649 4.64% $333,600 20.74 -14.72% 2.10% 2,783
193 Atlantic City Atlantic County 39,591 -1.22% $203,300 12.64 -14.65% 2.21% 1,835
194 City of Orange Township Essex County 30,294 -0.31% $264,800 16.47 -9.56% 2.88% 2,474
195 Newark Essex County 277,357 0.98% $243,200 15.12 -15.50% 2.12% 2,246
196 Roselle Union County 21,212 1.23% $241,400 15.01 -16.01% 3.35% 2,458
197 East Orange Essex County 64,351 -0.89% $228,700 14.22 -11.29% 3.18% 2,215
198 Plainfield Union County 50,065 2.08% $260,100 16.17 -14.92% 2.79% 2,429
199 Hackensack Bergen County 43,466 1.76% $299,100 18.60 -17.47% 2.50% 2,445
200 Irvington Township Essex County 54,144 -1.26% $213,400 13.27 -11.67% 3.26% 2,231
201 Perth Amboy Middlesex County 51,300 2.23% $254,500 15.82 -18.04% 2.59% 2,091
202 Elizabeth Union County 125,888 2.20% $285,300 17.74 -19.99% 2.67% 2,556
203 Paterson Passaic County 145,920 0.06% $278,400 17.31 -15.94% 2.72% 2,511
204 Union City Hudson County 67,233 2.23% $307,100 19.10 -19.33% 2.55% 2,745
 

Methodology

We evaluated all municipalities in New Jersey with populations of 10,000 or more. All housing and demographic data are from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. Our score is based on these factors:

Value appreciation is 40% of the score. To determine value appreciation, we looked at the average growth rate for population and home value from 2010 to 2013. Within this total score, home value appreciation is 70% and population growth is 30% of the score.

Housing cost is 40% of the score. To determine housing cost, we averaged the median property tax rate, how long it would take a first-time homebuyer to save for a down payment for 20% of the median home price, the difference in selected monthly ownership costs of each location and the recommended $1,824 in New Jersey. Since typical first-time homebuyers are in their 30s, we looked at the 25-44 age group's median annual income, which in New Jersey is $78,151. The personal savings rate of 4.8% is from the U.S. 10-year average, as published by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

Prosperity is 20% of the score. To determine prosperity, we looked at the percentage of families living in poverty in each city.

Cape May, New Jersey, image via iStock.
  

Top Places for First-time Homebuyers in North Carolina

By Kamran Rosen

Beautiful beaches, the Smoky Mountains and Krispy Kreme – when it comes to North Carolina, there's no shortage of reasons to live here.

However, buying a home in the Tar Heel State — and the birthplace of those addictive doughnuts — is another story. North Carolina's 2013 median home value of $153,600 was substantially higher than its neighbors South Carolina and Tennessee. And buying a house can be especially challenging for first-time homebuyers, who in North Carolina might have to plan on saving over a dozen years for the median down payment of $30,120.

To help new homebuyers, NerdWallet analyzed how much they could spend on a mortgage and examined the data on appreciation to find the top places for first-time homebuyers in North Carolina.

How much can first-time homebuyers afford?

For our calculations, we assumed a first-time homebuyer in North Carolina earns an annual salary of $50,260. We also assumed a personal savings rate of 4.8%, based on the U.S. 10-year average as measured by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Starting with nothing in the bank, we then estimated how many years it could take to save for a 20% down payment. Of course, the actual number of years of savings will vary depending on each individual's financial situation.

By following the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's recommendation that homeowners shouldn't allocate over 28% of their monthly income to housing costs, we determined that a homebuyer in North Carolina could afford to spend $1,173 a month.

Top places for first-time homebuyers in North Carolina

Top Places for First-time Homebuyers in North Carolina

1. Etowah

Located 23 miles south of Asheville, Etowah is a great option for those who value proximity to outdoor recreation at places such as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Dupont State Forest. While homeowners will have to pay more for Etowah's location, the median home value is $180,200, almost $30,000 above the state median, residents will benefit from a low property tax rate of 0.54% as well as monthly owner costs below the recommended $1,173.

2. Mills River

Etowah's neighbor to the north, Mills River, makes our list for first-time homebuyers largely due to its 2010-2013 home value growth of 13.4%, which is the fourth highest on our list. Proximity to state and national parks, good schools and a low property tax rate of 0.49% are among the many reasons why Mills River is a desirable place to live. While buying a house in Mills River is likely a smart investment, the town's higher median home value of $224,700 may be out of reach for some.

3. Aberdeen

This historic railroad town of over 6,500 saw its median home value increase 16.6% from 2010 to 2013, the second-highest gain in the state. The population also grew 10.8% during the same period. Aberdeen is located near two of North Carolina's largest cities — Fayetteville and Raleigh.

4. Woodfin

Woodfin is a town of 6,100 that had the state's 10th-highest growth in median home value — 11.7%. Even with the gain, Woodfin's median home price of $147,000 remains below the state median of $153,600. The typical first-time homebuyer would have to save for about 14 years to make a down payment and would pay $1,133 a month in housing costs, which is $40 less than the recommended 28% limit. It's worth noting, however, that the percentage of families living in poverty, 19.4%, is the highest in the top 10.

5. Half Moon

Aspiring homeowners seeking an affordable town close to the coast may want to look at Half Moon, which had a 2013 median home value of $142,500. This community of about 8,800 residents is located near Jacksonville and the Hofmann Forest. Half Moon's population grew 7.5% and its median home value increased 7% from 2010 to 2013. Half Moon has a low median property tax rate of 0.54%, but the monthly homeowner costs of $1,267 exceed the recommended maximum by $94.

6. Waxhaw

Waxhaw added 1,470 new residents from 2010 to 2013, making it the seventh-fastest growing community on our list. What's the attraction? Perhaps it's the town's schools, which scored a 9 out of 10 at GreatSchools.org. There's also Waxhaw's location, which is about 23 miles from Charlotte, the state's largest city. While living in Waxhaw requires an above-average income — the median home value is $231,800 — the town’s home value growth of nearly 10% tops the state median of 1.51%.

7. Pinehurst

Homes in this village had a 2013 median value of $284,500, the highest in the top 10 list. But that number didn't appear to scare people away: The population grew 16.19%, the second-highest rate among the leaders, from 2010-2013. The village, while in demand, is recommended for those with higher incomes only, since it could take a typical first-time homebuyer about 27 years to save for the median down payment of $56,900.

8. Jacksonville

Jacksonville, the biggest city in our top 10, stands out because of its home value growth rate of 12.69%, the third highest among the leaders. The value growth rate helped boost the 2013 median home value to $153,600, which is the same as the state median. Jacksonville's population increased just 0.62% from 2010 to 2013.

9. Piney Green

Right next to Jacksonville, Piney Green offers accessibility to a metro area's job market. While the community is the only one in our top 10 that didn't see its population grow from 2010 to 2013, Piney Green's median home value did increase 8.44%. A 2013 median home value of $146,400 was below the state median, while monthly owner costs of $1,208 were slightly above the recommended $1,173 for first-time homebuyers in North Carolina.

10. Winterville

Winterville, just outside Greenville, is a quiet suburb that has seen strong growth. From 2010 to 2013, the population grew 10%, from about 8,500 to 9,300 people. When it comes to crime, Winterville was the second-safest place in the top 10, according to NeighborhoodScout data. Another selling point: the annual Watermelon Festival, which features live entertainment, unlimited free watermelon slices and a seed-spitting contest.

Top places for first-time homebuyers in North Carolina data

Rank Place 2013 population 2010-2013 population growth rate 2013 home value 2010-2013 home value growth Median property tax 2013 monthly owner costs Years to save for down payment Crime risk rating
1 Etowah 7,025 8.43% $180,200 9.61% 0.54% $1,142 17.14 Most safe
2 Mills River 6,853 3.32% $224,700 13.43% 0.49% $1,494 21.37 Most safe
3 Aberdeen 6,520 10.81% $180,800 16.57% 0.86% $1,157 17.20 Less safe
4 Woodfin 6,105 3.25% $147,000 11.70% 0.72% $1,133 13.98 Most safe
5 Half Moon 8,776 7.52% $142,500 6.98% 0.54% $1,267 13.55 Safe
6 Waxhaw 10,224 16.79% $231,800 9.96% 0.83% $1,630 22.05 Most safe
7 Pinehurst 14,548 16.19% $284,500 9.25% 0.77% $1,599 27.06 Most safe
8 Jacksonville 69,415 0.62% $153,600 12.69% 0.97% $1,313 14.61 Safe
9 Piney Green 13,582 -1.92% $146,400 8.44% 0.58% $1,208 13.93 Safe
10 Winterville 9,332 10.28% $162,700 3.56% 0.94% $1,376 15.48 Most safe
11 Reidsville 14,360 -1.04% $112,100 14.86% 1.26% $1,049 10.66 Least safe
12 Unionville 6,098 4.19% $200,300 2.19% 0.73% $1,246 19.05 Most safe
13 Mocksville 5,082 2.63% $144,500 9.47% 0.85% $1,144 13.74 Less safe
14 Boiling Spring Lakes 5,440 9.19% $170,900 -0.35% 0.63% $1,198 16.26 Most safe
15 Harrisburg 12,955 25.44% $222,100 3.45% 0.82% $1,665 21.13 Most safe
16 Hamlet 6,572 2.37% $92,100 12.45% 1.22% $1,044 8.76 Less safe
17 Mount Holly 13,675 5.89% $155,800 11.37% 1.23% $1,378 14.82 Safe
18 Henderson 15,393 -0.95% $116,800 20.04% 1.10% $1,153 11.11 Least safe
19 Williamston 5,453 -1.11% $84,700 12.19% 1.35% $938 8.06 Least safe
20 Fuquay-Varina 19,164 18.65% $191,500 3.46% 0.98% $1,425 18.22 Most safe
21 Mount Airy 10,427 -0.88% $129,600 11.63% 1.02% $1,185 12.33 Less safe
22 Newton 12,983 0.12% $109,600 7.87% 0.97% $1,054 10.43 Safe
23 Siler City 8,020 2.81% $95,700 5.63% 1.11% $1,020 9.10 Less safe
24 Trinity 6,645 0.26% $125,500 0.16% 0.82% $1,106 11.94 Most safe
25 Kings Mountain 10,803 1.62% $105,700 6.12% 0.85% $1,084 10.05 Less safe
26 Rockingham 9,530 0.06% $91,200 11.90% 1.25% $1,094 8.67 Least safe
27 Seven Lakes 5,259 12.85% $272,200 -1.45% 0.48% $1,590 25.89 Most safe
28 Conover 8,188 3.28% $134,000 4.61% 0.92% $1,222 12.75 Safe
29 Leland 14,499 21.58% $197,600 -0.65% 0.65% $1,438 18.80 Safe
30 Holly Springs 26,035 18.51% $236,300 1.94% 1.04% $1,633 22.48 Most safe
31 Apex 39,134 13.67% $258,500 4.78% 0.90% $1,707 24.59 Most safe
32 Smithfield 11,234 2.39% $133,100 10.46% 1.03% $1,265 12.66 Least safe
33 Clemmons 18,884 4.07% $206,300 3.98% 0.82% $1,514 19.62 Most safe
34 Wadesboro 5,765 -1.99% $90,200 5.01% 1.06% $865 8.58 Least safe
35 Stokesdale 5,081 7.38% $196,500 0.05% 0.74% $1,483 18.69 Most safe
36 Lenoir 18,126 -0.54% $105,300 3.24% 0.95% $944 10.02 Less safe
37 Fayetteville 201,755 1.45% $125,800 8.45% 1.15% $1,208 11.97 Least safe
38 Kannapolis 43,322 3.98% $127,700 3.23% 1.13% $1,165 12.15 Safe
39 Bessemer City 5,382 0.92% $95,000 3.49% 1.23% $1,018 9.04 Safe
40 Wendell 5,996 7.78% $127,200 -1.01% 1.08% $1,033 12.10 Safe
41 Clayton 16,648 13.14% $152,600 1.06% 1.14% $1,350 14.52 Safe
42 Shelby 20,335 -0.40% $118,100 5.92% 1.00% $1,084 11.23 Safe
43 Butner 7,619 2.77% $128,800 2.63% 1.07% $1,171 12.25 Safe
44 Wake Forest 31,632 18.07% $259,200 7.60% 1.07% $1,754 24.65 Safe
45 Marion 7,962 -1.24% $83,900 1.57% 0.73% $759 7.98 Least safe
46 Forest City 7,455 -0.43% $96,500 2.55% 0.74% $875 9.18 Least safe
47 Hope Mills 15,717 9.02% $130,500 3.98% 1.25% $1,197 12.41 Least safe
48 Lincolnton 10,595 1.48% $129,800 4.93% 1.10% $1,008 12.35 Less safe
49 Indian Trail 34,146 12.46% $172,600 -3.95% 0.85% $1,407 16.42 Most safe
50 Gibsonville 6,497 7.16% $159,500 -2.92% 0.93% $1,285 15.17 Most safe
51 Archdale 11,299 3.06% $135,500 -0.88% 0.95% $1,161 12.89 Safe
52 Lewisville 12,913 3.16% $186,100 0.87% 0.89% $1,396 17.70 Most safe
53 Knightdale 12,133 15.81% $168,800 -1.63% 0.95% $1,406 16.06 Safe
54 Eden 15,593 -0.06% $82,500 1.98% 1.15% $885 7.85 Less safe
55 Clinton 8,706 1.42% $123,700 6.09% 1.12% $1,152 11.77 Least safe
56 St. Stephens 8,568 -8.30% $124,100 1.06% 0.59% $1,067 11.80 Less safe
57 Albemarle 15,937 0.16% $119,800 3.99% 0.99% $1,140 11.40 Less safe
58 Southern Pines 12,592 3.93% $248,000 9.35% 0.76% $1,516 23.59 Less safe
59 Wrightsboro 5,438 1.99% $151,600 -3.56% 0.54% $1,306 14.42 Most safe
60 Kinston 21,693 -1.39% $105,600 9.77% 1.23% $1,220 10.04 Least safe
61 Asheboro 25,432 3.90% $115,900 2.66% 1.02% $1,049 11.02 Least safe
62 Nashville 5,446 4.53% $135,800 0.44% 0.96% $1,178 12.92 Safe
63 Elon 9,426 5.52% $198,300 -2.84% 0.91% $1,659 18.86 Most safe
64 Sanford 28,593 6.31% $138,100 4.78% 1.26% $1,158 13.14 Less safe
65 Lumberton 21,701 1.18% $100,500 7.26% 1.15% $1,238 9.56 Least safe
66 Greenville 86,249 7.22% $149,600 4.25% 1.10% $1,300 14.23 Less safe
67 Havelock 20,892 1.30% $137,600 0.66% 0.90% $1,210 13.09 Safe
68 Dunn 9,473 3.84% $107,500 2.67% 1.25% $1,027 10.23 Less safe
69 Lake Norman of Catawba 7,049 1.70% $352,800 3.64% 0.56% $1,753 33.56 Most safe
70 Waynesville 9,794 -1.41% $148,300 1.44% 0.77% $1,101 14.11 Safe
71 Morganton 16,903 -0.41% $130,000 3.17% 0.98% $1,164 12.37 Safe
72 Mebane 11,835 13.79% $163,500 -1.62% 0.86% $1,365 15.55 Less safe
73 Garner 26,213 7.36% $165,600 2.03% 1.03% $1,389 15.75 Less safe
74 Kernersville 23,311 4.36% $174,500 6.60% 1.21% $1,391 16.60 Less safe
75 Fletcher 7,224 8.01% $178,100 -5.72% 0.73% $1,309 16.94 Safe
76 Summerfield 10,348 7.62% $331,000 4.35% 0.75% $2,055 31.48 Most safe
77 Morehead City 8,899 4.41% $191,300 2.30% 0.56% $1,316 18.20 Least safe
78 Hendersonville 13,233 2.58% $164,300 1.80% 0.79% $1,055 15.63 Least safe
79 Burlington 51,128 4.91% $126,100 1.20% 1.04% $1,181 11.99 Less safe
80 Washington 9,751 0.44% $159,900 5.41% 0.89% $1,252 15.21 Less safe
81 King 6,730 1.05% $142,100 0.28% 0.96% $1,240 13.52 Less safe
82 Concord 80,715 7.37% $168,300 0.84% 1.02% $1,441 16.01 Safe
83 Cary 141,292 10.74% $303,700 5.09% 0.87% $1,871 28.89 Most safe
84 Hillsborough 6,195 3.73% $193,600 12.49% 1.52% $1,543 18.42 Safe
85 Spring Lake 12,737 7.68% $92,900 0.32% 1.51% $1,090 8.84 Less safe
86 Murraysville 14,171 6.60% $180,900 -4.74% 0.60% $1,287 17.21 Less safe
87 Boone 17,579 6.11% $280,800 3.92% 0.56% $1,573 26.71 Safe
88 Thomasville 26,983 2.52% $105,100 -0.38% 1.16% $999 10.00 Less safe
89 Raleigh 414,530 8.31% $207,000 1.82% 0.92% $1,462 19.69 Safe
90 Gastonia 72,300 2.25% $135,900 3.98% 1.23% $1,235 12.93 Less safe
91 Hickory 40,178 0.62% $158,100 2.40% 1.01% $1,216 15.04 Less safe
92 Silver Lake 5,929 9.27% $156,300 -6.07% 0.58% $1,270 14.87 Less safe
93 Stallings 13,898 9.59% $210,400 -3.84% 0.85% $1,548 20.01 Most safe
94 Huntersville 48,024 11.41% $245,300 0.95% 0.99% $1,707 23.33 Most safe
95 Kings Grant 8,520 2.06% $161,400 -5.34% 0.58% $1,246 15.35 Less safe
96 Roanoke Rapids 15,742 -0.78% $112,100 5.16% 1.46% $1,113 10.66 Least safe
97 Graham 14,190 1.93% $125,700 -2.26% 0.87% $1,197 11.96 Less safe
98 Pineville 7,708 6.30% $145,200 0.55% 1.07% $1,234 13.81 Least safe
99 Black Mountain 7,916 1.37% $171,600 -6.43% 0.75% $1,290 16.32 Most safe
100 Asheville 84,883 3.55% $196,300 1.97% 0.88% $1,331 18.67 Less safe
101 Belmont 10,249 4.27% $152,800 -1.61% 1.13% $1,391 14.53 Safe
102 Morrisville 19,720 22.13% $261,600 -1.80% 0.98% $1,759 24.88 Most safe
103 High Point 105,723 4.78% $146,200 1.88% 1.22% $1,303 13.91 Less safe
104 Marvin 5,686 16.30% $569,100 -5.50% 0.69% $2,696 54.13 Most safe
105 Statesville 24,932 1.27% $133,500 -0.74% 0.81% $1,158 12.70 Least safe
106 Oxford 8,568 0.92% $126,000 2.52% 1.16% $1,280 11.98 Least safe
107 Greensboro 273,228 3.75% $147,400 0.61% 1.21% $1,250 14.02 Less safe
108 Cherryville 5,803 1.86% $104,300 -5.61% 1.27% $1,149 9.92 Safe
109 Brevard 7,629 1.87% $178,500 -3.62% 0.68% $1,281 16.98 Safe
110 New Bern 29,889 6.47% $149,000 -2.17% 0.87% $1,373 14.17 Less safe
111 Rocky Mount 57,417 -0.62% $105,500 -0.38% 1.15% $1,160 10.04 Least safe
112 Mint Hill 23,383 6.58% $207,000 -2.68% 1.03% $1,584 19.69 Most safe
113 Winston-Salem 232,219 3.31% $140,400 -0.57% 1.13% $1,189 13.35 Least safe
114 Monroe 33,343 3.24% $148,800 -0.73% 0.95% $1,338 14.15 Less safe
115 Cullowhee 5,188 9.27% $164,600 -22.87% 0.34% $861 15.66 Most safe
116 Durham 234,922 6.63% $180,500 2.21% 1.30% $1,422 17.17 Safe
117 James City 5,608 -10.07% $152,300 -2.56% 0.53% $1,323 14.49 Less safe
118 Mooresville 33,812 10.56% $186,500 -3.67% 1.06% $1,447 17.74 Less safe
119 Roxboro 8,365 -1.47% $88,800 0.68% 1.27% $955 8.45 Least safe
120 Myrtle Grove 8,539 -1.03% $251,100 2.62% 0.62% $1,597 23.88 Less safe
121 Lexington 18,981 -0.91% $100,300 -4.57% 1.12% $1,042 9.54 Safe
122 Wesley Chapel 7,686 14.68% $300,700 -7.45% 0.69% $1,850 28.60 Most safe
123 Oak Ridge 6,334 9.11% $333,700 -2.46% 0.85% $2,111 31.74 Most safe
124 Wilson 49,347 2.34% $131,000 -1.80% 1.14% $1,295 12.46 Less safe
125 Charlotte 757,278 7.28% $170,500 -1.62% 1.19% $1,437 16.22 Less safe
126 Salisbury 33,543 1.59% $121,600 -4.03% 1.15% $1,116 11.57 Least safe
127 Weddington 9,735 5.73% $391,500 -5.30% 0.69% $2,287 37.24 Most safe
128 Matthews 28,079 5.74% $217,600 -3.20% 1.04% $1,518 20.70 Safe
129 Sawmills 5,192 -0.02% $96,800 -18.86% 0.94% $907 9.21 Less safe
130 Elizabeth City 18,508 -0.75% $149,400 -1.84% 0.84% $1,439 14.21 Less safe
131 Ahoskie 5,053 -1.10% $90,900 -3.81% 1.31% $1,185 8.65 Less safe
132 Laurinburg 15,909 -0.98% $92,900 -4.42% 1.31% $1,082 8.84 Least safe
133 Goldsboro 36,110 -1.92% $111,600 -6.14% 1.21% $1,189 10.62 Least safe
134 Tarboro 11,375 -0.43% $94,700 -16.12% 1.08% $1,108 9.01 Less safe
135 Wilmington 108,530 3.63% $226,200 -4.03% 0.83% $1,600 21.52 Less safe
136 Davidson 11,159 8.13% $391,300 -8.21% 0.88% $2,177 37.22 Most safe
137 Cornelius 25,583 11.38% $247,900 -9.39% 1.01% $1,809 23.58 Most safe
138 Whiteville 5,437 3.46% $94,200 -20.03% 1.18% $999 8.96 Least safe
139 Chapel Hill 58,058 5.22% $367,800 3.20% 1.54% $2,223 34.98 Safe
140 Kill Devil Hills 6,776 2.20% $260,900 -10.44% 0.56% $1,805 24.82 Less safe
141 Ogden 7,027 5.64% $236,600 -12.82% 0.62% $1,826 22.51 Less safe
142 Carrboro 20,085 5.30% $337,000 2.68% 1.61% $2,175 32.06 Safe
143 Oak Island 6,970 2.23% $243,200 -20.73% 0.75% $1,616 23.13 Safe
144 Selma 6,150 1.28% $79,500 -13.87% 1.49% $1,109 7.56 Less safe
145 Edenton 5,006 -2.05% $111,100 -17.83% 1.11% $1,343 10.57 Less safe
146 Carolina Beach 5,817 2.68% $258,700 -18.52% 0.77% $1,927 24.61 Less safe
 

Methodology

We analyzed 146 cities, villages, towns and census-designated places in North Carolina with populations of 5,000 or more. All housing and demographic data are from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey. Our score is based on these factors:

Value appreciation is 40% of the score. To determine value appreciation, we looked at the average growth rate for both population and home value from 2010 to 2013. Within this total, home value appreciation is 70% and population growth is 30% of the score.

Housing cost is 40% of the score. To determine housing cost, we averaged the median property tax rate, how long it would take a first-time homebuyer to save a 20% down payment of the median home price and the difference in selected monthly ownership costs of each location and the recommended maximum of $1,173 in North Carolina. Since typical first-time homebuyers are in their 30s, we looked at the 25-44 age group's median annual income, which in North Carolina is $50,260. The personal savings rate of 4.8% is from the U.S. 10-year average, as published by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

Prosperity and safety is 20% of the score. To determine prosperity, we looked at the percentage of families living in poverty in each city. For safety, a crime risk index was provided by NeighborhoodScout. We grouped the index, with scores from 0 to 100, into categories of "most safe," "safe," "less safe" and "least safe." To find out more about how the crime score is calculated, go to NeighborhoodScout.com.

  Downtown Fayetteville, North Carolina, image via iStock.
  

Top Places for First-time Homebuyers in Florida

By Kamran Rosen

Even though Florida real estate values have largely recovered from the steep declines of the Great Recession, the state remains an oasis of affordability for first-time homebuyers.

The Sunshine State, one of the places hit hardest by the nation's mortgage crisis, has seen its real estate industry rebound thanks to a population that has grown at the fifth-fastest pace in the U.S. in the past five years.

To help first-time buyers navigate the housing market, NerdWallet analyzed data on housing cost, market health, population growth and safety.

How much can first-time homebuyers afford?

For our calculations, we assumed a first-time homebuyer in Florida earns an annual income of $50,523, the 2014 state median for households headed by residents ages 25 to 44. We also assumed a personal savings rate of 4.8% annually, based on the U.S. 10-year average as measured by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Starting with nothing in the bank, we then estimated how many years it would take to save for a 20% down payment. Of course, the actual number of years of savings will vary depending on each individual's financial situation.

By following the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's recommendation that homeowners shouldn't allocate more than 28% of their monthly gross income to housing costs, we determined that a first-time homebuyer in Florida could afford to spend $1,179 a month on homeowner costs.

Top places for first-time homebuyers in Florida

Top Places for First-Time Homebuyers in Florida

1. East Milton

Not to be confused with the city of Milton, East Milton is a neighboring unincorporated community and a census-designated place in Santa Rosa County. Home values in the Panhandle remained flat from 2011 to 2014 — a time of massive depreciation across Florida — and East Milton was no exception with no growth in home value in that period. Nonetheless, the population here grew 16% from 2011 to 2014. The median home value in East Milton was $109,400 in 2014, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. The affordable home values — about $30,000 less than the median of $140,050 for the communities we analyzed — mean that the average first-time Florida homebuyer could afford a 20% down payment here in just under 10 years.

2. Lady Lake

Natural beauty is abundant here, with over 1,000 lakes in the surrounding county. In addition to nearby nature preserves, Lady Lake is about an hour’s drive from downtown Orlando and Walt Disney World. Although the town’s median age of 63 might deter some younger homebuyers, the community also has low rates of crime and poverty. Lady Lake is especially attractive to first-time homebuyers for its lower costs to buy and own a home.

3. Navarre

With 12 miles of beachfront, it’s no surprise that Navarre is the most expensive community in our top 10. The median home value in this census-designated place on the Gulf Coast between Pensacola and Fort Walton Beach was $197,800, which is $50,000 higher than the median of other communities in our analysis. Higher home values haven’t deterred new residents, though. The population here grew 7.4% from 2011 to 2014.

4. Yulee

Part of the sprawling Jacksonville metro area, this census-designated place offers stability — in home value, with its crime-risk score of “most safe” (a rating from data supplied by NeighborhoodScout), and in the high percentage of homes that are owner occupied. Home values here depreciated less than 1%, the second-lowest drop on our list, from 2011 to 2014.

5. Pace

With a crime risk score of “most safe” and at least 80% of housing occupied by owners, this census-designated place is an attractive spot for families. The community just north of Pensacola was the only place in our top 10 to see double-digit depreciation in home values from 2011 to 2014. In a sign of Pace’s tight housing market, the vacancy rate of 0.6% was the lowest in our top 10.

6. Ruskin

This census-designated community in Hillsborough County and not too far from Tampa showed some of the healthiest signs for a housing market. Ruskin had the most stable home values in our top 10, and a population growth rate of 17.9%. Owners occupy 68% of homes here. With home values of $146,000, it will take the average first-time homebuyer in Florida 13 years to save for a down payment. Ruskin has a crime risk score of “safe,” which isn’t as strong as most communities in our top 10. Amazon recently opened a massive fulfillment center in Ruskin that employs several thousand people.

7. Haines City

With a 2014 home value of $98,700, this community south of Orlando has the distinction of being the most affordable place in our top 10, and also one where home values haven’t fallen as much as in other places. Haines recorded a 1.5% decline in home values from 2011 to 2014, compared with a 19.1% statewide drop in home values over the same period.

8. Niceville

Apart from its name, there are many nice features in this community. The population grew 5.9% from 2011 to 2014, median property taxes were low at a rate of 0.84%, and it received the best crime-risk score of “most safe.” The city near Fort Walton Beach in Okaloosa County is home to the Boggy Bayou Mullet Festival and is close to Eglin Air Force Base. But the median home value of $191,400, the second-highest in our top 10, may deter some first-time homebuyers.

9. Gonzalez

Gonzalez is a census-designated community of nearly 14,000 residents about 20 minutes north of Pensacola. Homes here are valued at $156,000 and its population surged 6.7% from 2011 to 2014. Gonzalez has a low rate of families living in poverty at 4.8%, and nearly 83% of homes are owner occupied, the highest in our top 10.

10. Iona

Across the bridge from Cape Coral, the census-designated community of Iona is located among the Gulf Coast’s beaches and nature preserves. The nearby beaches at Fort Myers and Sanibel are popular tourist destinations, and Lee County plays host to the Boston Red Sox for spring training. This “most safe” community saw its homes lose 1.1% of their value — at the lower end on our list — from 2011 to 2014. Iona’s population skews older, with a median age of 66.

Top places for first-time homebuyers in Florida data

RankLocationPopulation in 2014Median annual incomePopulation growth rate 2011-2014Median home value in 2014Home value growth rate 2011-2014Percentage of housing occupied by ownersMedian property tax rateSelected monthly homeowner costsYears to save for 20% down paymentPercentage of families living in povertyCrime-risk scoreScore
1East Milton CDP11,337$43,86416.16%$109,400-2.23%76.0%0.63%$1,0189.928.20%Most Safe80.90
2Lady Lake14,138$38,2220.34%$119,700-8.90%68.3%0.83%$1,01410.89.00%Most Safe71.34
3Navarre CDP32,586$66,9067.37%$197,800-6.30%67.2%0.78%$1,65217.95.90%Most Safe70.33
4Yulee CDP11,609$54,715-2.14%$162,900-0.55%78.0%0.94%$1,37914.76.40%Most Safe70.07
5Pace CDP21,272$62,2984.81%$153,000-10.47%80.3%0.81%$1,39013.85.40%Most Safe69.19
6Ruskin CDP18,846$49,24717.88%$146,000-0.07%68.2%1.16%$1,37913.214.00%Safe68.59
7Haines City21,207$33,3054.93%$98,700-1.50%60.1%0.92%$1,1728.925.60%Safe66.74
8Niceville13,562$62,5385.87%$191,400-7.89%69.3%0.84%$1,55917.312.50%Most Safe66.65
9Gonzalez CDP13,936$62,8576.65%$156,000-9.57%82.6%0.85%$1,33614.14.80%Safe66.02
10Iona CDP13,549$53,395-1.64%$165,500-1.14%71.7%1.08%$1,77415.03.40%Most Safe64.45
11Englewood CDP14,366$41,949-5.85%$126,900-12.12%79.2%1.00%$1,23811.55.20%Most Safe64.34
12World Golf Village CDP13,326$75,22416.04%$228,700-4.91%78.4%1.31%$1,85320.74.40%Most Safe64.32
13Immokalee CDP24,021$25,72517.47%$76,300-7.74%43.5%1.06%$9296.943.80%Less safe63.89
14Ferry Pass CDP31,204$40,89310.36%$138,600-7.66%45.5%0.83%$1,22212.58.10%Least Safe63.82
15Sebastian22,485$42,5914.08%$141,200-15.60%80.3%1.04%$1,16812.86.30%Most Safe63.50
16Homosassa Springs CDP13,403$28,767-12.25%$69,700-19.79%79.5%0.68%$8996.319.80%Safe62.73
17Thonotosassa CDP13,461$41,3813.79%$126,300-7.54%70.5%1.17%$1,27011.414.30%Safe62.70
18West Melbourne19,208$52,5638.65%$162,100-9.79%69.9%1.05%$1,35914.74.80%Safe62.55
19North Port58,584$50,8557.73%$123,500-19.02%73.5%1.17%$1,17711.28.30%Most Safe62.38
20Middleburg CDP13,042$47,856-0.12%$115,500-19.34%77.1%0.79%$1,09810.414.60%Safe61.96
21Lakewood Park CDP11,304$48,361-2.81%$86,500-17.38%85.3%1.08%$1,1357.88.00%Most Safe61.93
22Sarasota Springs CDP15,659$51,6467.23%$142,500-14.41%80.7%0.96%$1,34612.96.60%Less safe61.89
23Midway CDP (Santa Rosa County)17,640$65,9298.49%$185,600-17.03%75.9%0.87%$1,46616.87.00%Most Safe61.86
24Upper Grand Lagoon CDP14,917$54,03516.86%$206,100-13.66%64.0%0.76%$1,50618.66.50%Safe61.84
25Callaway14,617$49,9860.83%$135,100-11.35%62.2%0.72%$1,26612.211.60%Less safe61.75
26Cypress Lake CDP12,177$44,793-0.27%$122,200-12.34%69.3%0.99%$1,26911.16.50%Safe61.63
27Florida Ridge CDP18,056$40,9236.16%$105,300-21.48%74.8%0.91%$1,1069.59.30%Safe61.31
28Crestview22,099$51,1157.57%$157,700-6.85%60.8%0.85%$1,41314.319.00%Less safe61.27
29Lakeside CDP31,522$56,127-1.27%$148,600-12.12%73.6%0.87%$1,27813.48.10%Safe61.16
30Bellview CDP22,759$48,984-1.54%$100,500-16.18%71.9%0.88%$1,1419.17.50%Less safe61.15
31Fort Walton Beach20,320$49,5522.52%$156,600-9.58%58.2%0.74%$1,42214.212.40%Safe61.08
32Oviedo35,602$82,2598.43%$222,900-11.93%80.3%1.07%$1,84120.25.00%Most Safe60.97
33Ensley CDP20,784$41,7827.13%$107,400-15.43%64.4%0.91%$1,1189.711.90%Least Safe60.80
34Venice21,121$48,1031.74%$183,200-9.84%73.7%1.03%$1,51516.64.30%Most Safe60.70
35Lutz CDP20,184$69,9712.59%$221,600-9.11%84.0%1.21%$1,71920.05.00%Most Safe60.69
36Winter Springs33,673$64,0381.22%$202,600-12.48%77.9%1.04%$1,70518.38.20%Most Safe60.52
37Riverview CDP76,590$65,87415.49%$154,600-16.07%74.1%1.37%$1,51614.07.60%Most Safe59.96
38Estero CDP22,649$66,4391.65%$243,600-13.49%84.9%1.15%$1,85622.02.60%Most Safe59.91
39Zephyrhills14,041$37,2535.08%$90,500-19.56%67.6%0.91%$9848.212.20%Least Safe59.69
40Keystone CDP22,678$113,9717.04%$329,900-3.14%91.9%1.29%$2,35129.81.80%Most Safe59.60
41Bellair-Meadowbrook Terrace CDP13,578$45,8600.73%$111,000-14.68%46.9%0.92%$1,10210.05.70%Less safe59.45
42Safety Harbor17,017$58,3750.61%$204,400-13.21%81.8%1.02%$1,71318.56.30%Most Safe59.41
43Fish Hawk CDP15,823$107,15316.12%$265,500-6.18%84.3%1.79%$2,19924.04.00%Most Safe59.17
44Palm Coast77,779$47,6345.82%$158,800-19.39%79.4%1.10%$1,28214.411.20%Most Safe58.98
45Vero Beach South CDP23,343$43,8204.34%$135,800-18.73%72.5%0.90%$1,20012.38.60%Less safe58.97
46Myrtle Grove CDP17,475$38,2836.75%$102,300-16.56%49.4%0.83%$1,0649.319.30%Least Safe58.88
47Hobe Sound CDP13,205$45,90812.41%$141,800-21.61%73.5%1.12%$1,43812.89.00%Most Safe58.79
48Rockledge25,477$59,9053.12%$137,000-21.22%77.2%0.99%$1,45412.45.80%Most Safe58.68
49Four Corners CDP32,154$48,88318.10%$138,200-14.90%53.8%1.12%$1,38612.513.20%Safe58.64
50Wesley Chapel CDP46,935$71,72213.29%$155,600-15.71%73.7%1.50%$1,55714.15.40%Most Safe58.61
51South Venice CDP14,637$43,9304.19%$130,600-19.18%78.4%1.08%$1,20911.86.80%Safe58.46
52Highland City CDP10,040$63,258-0.64%$138,900-22.05%85.5%0.97%$1,33112.65.00%Most Safe58.41
53Edgewater20,879$43,9420.20%$124,700-22.06%81.5%0.99%$1,15311.37.80%Safe58.26
54Valrico CDP36,603$71,8931.54%$190,900-14.05%84.1%1.28%$1,76317.35.60%Most Safe58.16
55Lynn Haven19,049$57,5295.54%$173,300-15.01%63.5%0.85%$1,56115.77.30%Safe58.15
56Dunedin35,538$46,3100.59%$151,500-18.02%62.5%0.92%$1,37213.75.80%Most Safe57.82
57Wright CDP25,384$45,0960.18%$160,600-5.86%45.0%0.76%$1,34114.517.00%Least Safe57.74
58Viera East CDP10,998$65,767-3.68%$189,000-10.85%82.7%1.32%$1,49417.12.00%Most Safe57.72
59North Fort Myers CDP39,143$38,598-2.35%$67,300-24.72%84.0%1.01%$1,2046.17.40%Safe57.62
60West Lealman CDP15,257$32,1925.37%$75,500-23.12%72.9%1.02%$1,1196.812.10%Less safe57.49
61Bloomingdale CDP22,879$80,2743.78%$189,700-16.06%77.3%1.28%$1,76317.23.40%Most Safe57.42
62Seminole17,477$47,5881.24%$138,800-15.52%76.7%1.06%$1,47112.67.80%Safe57.42
63Palm Harbor CDP59,007$53,232-0.63%$165,800-17.35%72.3%1.10%$1,53615.05.40%Most Safe57.17
64Panama City36,405$37,453-0.70%$133,800-11.51%49.1%0.71%$1,29912.117.10%Least Safe57.11
65Hudson CDP11,730$36,692-0.83%$119,500-20.97%73.4%0.95%$1,24110.88.70%Safe57.03
66Tavares14,343$38,8723.47%$104,300-25.07%74.5%1.10%$1,1899.410.70%Most Safe57.02
67Pensacola52,505$46,4240.04%$144,100-13.09%59.5%0.86%$1,30213.010.60%Least Safe56.86
68Palm Bay104,342$43,0642.48%$101,800-26.55%73.5%1.04%$1,1439.212.60%Most Safe56.72
69Land O' Lakes CDP33,112$65,6120.00%$171,000-19.07%80.9%1.16%$1,65215.53.70%Most Safe56.72
70Bonita Springs46,384$53,5305.63%$234,700-12.85%74.2%1.10%$1,70621.212.20%Most Safe56.71
71Port Orange57,218$44,9812.20%$138,400-19.16%75.1%1.16%$1,24312.56.90%Safe56.68
72Mango CDP12,062$34,13715.10%$101,300-19.67%50.5%1.19%$1,0419.222.80%Less safe56.67
73Oakleaf Plantation CDP22,318$73,70719.73%$167,900-17.57%77.8%1.55%$1,71915.24.90%Most Safe56.60
74South Bradenton CDP22,814$31,7389.42%$59,300-26.24%50.8%0.84%$1,0345.417.40%Least Safe56.56
75Gulf Gate Estates CDP10,946$42,469-0.24%$154,000-13.92%54.1%0.89%$1,15513.99.50%Least Safe56.38
76Bayshore Gardens CDP17,899$36,9778.23%$74,000-22.84%61.1%1.07%$1,0316.716.50%Least Safe56.35
77Shady Hills CDP10,687$38,802-0.59%$104,100-31.65%89.4%0.85%$1,1459.415.60%Most Safe56.33
78Spring Hill CDP100,270$40,9691.65%$112,500-24.70%76.9%1.07%$1,13110.212.60%Safe56.25
79Gibsonton CDP15,893$42,5476.33%$132,400-16.94%65.5%1.13%$1,39912.018.70%Safe56.24
80Satellite Beach10,262$63,793-1.33%$216,400-9.08%75.7%1.12%$1,92019.62.70%Most Safe56.15
81Lakeland Highlands CDP11,649$81,2636.10%$185,600-27.81%88.3%1.13%$1,67616.82.20%Most Safe55.93
82Pinellas Park49,874$41,8772.08%$108,200-18.40%65.9%1.03%$1,2139.810.10%Least Safe55.78
83Oldsmar13,730$54,1862.09%$152,700-13.92%66.1%1.08%$1,47313.89.30%Safe55.77
84Auburndale13,979$40,8513.43%$115,900-17.68%65.8%1.00%$1,31310.514.40%Less safe55.74
85Palm River-Clair Mel CDP22,667$36,16710.96%$103,600-21.16%59.1%1.07%$1,1719.423.20%Less safe55.48
86Orange City10,968$31,4454.53%$70,500-16.57%49.0%1.19%$1,1586.417.70%Less safe55.46
87Brent CDP22,175$35,122-4.54%$81,500-17.76%51.9%0.78%$9877.421.80%Least Safe55.44
88Brandon CDP106,604$56,0124.24%$146,000-16.38%56.6%1.18%$1,43213.29.30%Most Safe55.36
89Northdale CDP22,587$65,839-0.10%$179,000-15.21%69.0%1.18%$1,59316.26.90%Most Safe55.28
90Wekiwa Springs CDP23,813$76,4626.09%$226,900-23.14%79.9%1.05%$1,77420.53.40%Most Safe55.12
91Leesburg20,915$33,8463.39%$110,100-17.22%53.0%1.07%$1,08110.015.40%Less safe55.10
92Fruitville CDP13,462$56,174-1.77%$187,800-15.48%65.1%0.96%$1,43517.05.70%Safe55.10
93Fruit Cove CDP30,770$97,5554.39%$276,300-14.19%86.3%1.20%$2,08525.03.90%Most Safe55.08
94St. Cloud39,685$48,91114.42%$117,000-27.10%69.6%1.18%$1,35510.613.30%Safe55.04
95Gulfport12,102$38,315-0.02%$135,000-20.82%64.7%0.80%$1,23812.213.60%Less safe54.99
96Lehigh Acres CDP106,747$39,68616.40%$82,200-31.56%57.7%1.13%$1,0277.417.60%Safe54.94
97Cape Coral161,804$49,8415.88%$146,300-19.57%69.4%1.27%$1,43813.210.50%Most Safe54.88
98West Pensacola CDP19,571$29,293-3.12%$67,800-22.69%50.1%0.70%$8796.125.40%Least Safe54.76
99Largo78,391$39,7221.44%$90,000-21.67%56.2%0.98%$1,2568.110.60%Less safe54.73
100Marco Island16,921$73,0312.10%$475,900-13.01%85.5%0.78%$2,36143.05.00%Most Safe54.61
101DeLand27,872$37,4174.19%$142,300-15.25%55.4%1.00%$1,28712.915.10%Least Safe54.58
102Winter Haven35,070$36,6024.26%$100,300-19.76%58.5%1.05%$1,1949.115.40%Less safe54.56
103Destin12,840$66,3244.07%$253,400-13.46%68.6%0.83%$1,88022.96.30%Safe54.52
104Lakeland99,942$39,2382.53%$109,700-19.52%55.3%0.92%$1,2229.914.40%Least Safe54.46
105Port Salerno CDP10,070$43,036-1.02%$140,300-23.29%72.7%1.05%$1,40212.77.40%Most Safe54.44
106Bayonet Point CDP24,412$30,6842.75%$68,000-28.87%71.7%0.98%$1,0026.111.70%Least Safe54.30
107Stuart15,850$36,6371.32%$110,400-20.80%54.0%0.84%$1,36010.012.40%Less safe54.26
108Ocala56,918$37,4420.96%$118,900-15.49%52.8%0.94%$1,27110.817.70%Least Safe54.20
109Warrington CDP13,428$36,485-3.50%$87,600-18.28%55.3%0.85%$1,0127.924.10%Least Safe54.13
110Golden Gate CDP28,917$38,64413.19%$129,200-25.62%50.1%0.87%$1,23811.725.40%Safe53.91
111Fleming Island CDP29,656$88,6721.30%$220,200-15.41%80.2%1.27%$1,84719.91.50%Most Safe53.77
112Port Charlotte CDP55,206$39,387-0.44%$110,900-23.15%76.7%1.24%$1,13610.011.90%Safe53.50
113Punta Gorda16,984$56,0811.99%$276,300-11.84%79.0%1.10%$1,87625.06.70%Most Safe53.32
114Lake Mary14,605$84,7416.82%$245,900-17.95%78.9%1.05%$1,88522.24.10%Most Safe53.27
115Clermont29,582$55,3367.94%$176,900-16.95%70.9%1.22%$1,54616.010.50%Safe53.24
116Lake Magdalene CDP28,966$52,911-1.32%$170,800-15.57%69.1%1.18%$1,53815.48.90%Most Safe53.04
117Jupiter57,625$70,2406.84%$268,800-8.38%72.5%1.27%$1,92224.35.90%Most Safe53.03
118Hialeah Gardens22,660$41,9675.29%$152,600-16.93%66.4%1.18%$1,31413.817.80%Less safe53.01
119Citrus Park CDP25,329$60,2954.07%$170,900-19.16%68.3%1.21%$1,61915.58.40%Most Safe52.95
120Town 'n' Country CDP82,506$49,7145.95%$127,100-23.89%58.6%1.14%$1,31811.511.20%Safe52.93
121DeBary19,404$52,2581.10%$154,300-25.85%85.5%1.21%$1,44814.06.50%Most Safe52.90
122Longwood13,776$56,163-1.00%$153,200-23.44%73.6%0.99%$1,30313.98.40%Safe52.88
123Glenvar Heights CDP18,899$57,10322.47%$297,1004.87%53.5%1.19%$2,36826.95.40%Safe52.72
124Apollo Beach CDP15,648$70,13813.19%$192,900-21.30%79.6%1.54%$1,78717.45.70%Most Safe52.70
125St. Petersburg248,429$45,4831.36%$140,100-16.51%58.7%0.99%$1,41112.711.90%Least Safe52.66
126Tarpon Springs23,789$43,0242.42%$161,700-15.12%71.8%1.18%$1,65214.610.20%Safe52.51
127East Lake CDP32,335$73,8432.39%$272,100-12.98%78.9%1.23%$2,03224.64.70%Most Safe52.45
128Jacksonville837,533$46,7682.44%$138,500-16.77%60.3%1.10%$1,39212.513.70%Less safe52.43
129Port St. Lucie169,260$48,8985.81%$131,700-21.42%77.8%1.66%$1,41711.912.00%Most Safe52.42
130Margate54,929$42,5992.62%$118,600-21.66%76.3%1.36%$1,47310.711.10%Most Safe52.40
131Trinity CDP10,550$72,593-3.18%$239,900-20.67%94.2%1.16%$1,91821.74.80%Most Safe52.34
132Plant City35,866$45,7943.64%$127,700-21.51%56.9%0.92%$1,38011.514.80%Less safe52.24
133Poinciana CDP56,678$39,7458.53%$114,200-30.62%72.7%1.22%$1,18910.316.10%Safe52.22
134Jensen Beach CDP12,000$43,181-5.27%$169,400-19.10%73.9%1.10%$1,53815.37.60%Most Safe52.16
135Tallahassee185,395$39,4073.40%$176,900-7.58%40.6%1.12%$1,45516.016.10%Least Safe52.13
136Clearwater109,210$43,3061.30%$153,900-14.45%59.1%1.11%$1,51013.911.10%Less safe51.97
137Bartow17,766$42,5512.46%$95,200-24.80%63.7%0.96%$1,2268.617.60%Least Safe51.96
138North Palm Beach12,272$56,4601.31%$229,600-14.58%75.9%1.17%$2,07220.83.90%Most Safe51.82
139Palmetto12,856$37,9760.42%$106,800-22.16%67.4%1.05%$1,3259.714.50%Less safe51.62
140Fernandina Beach11,851$52,1652.82%$262,800-8.27%67.5%1.14%$1,81623.810.20%Safe51.50
141Temple Terrace25,098$50,9782.46%$164,400-16.46%54.0%1.17%$1,53814.910.00%Safe51.43
142St. Augustine13,440$43,2043.22%$214,200-12.75%54.1%0.87%$1,56819.412.80%Least Safe51.42
143Conway CDP15,382$66,0962.07%$182,600-20.44%76.1%1.01%$1,48716.57.40%Less safe51.35
144Lake Wales14,665$35,7854.17%$108,300-22.31%57.6%1.12%$1,1459.822.20%Less safe51.32
145Villas CDP10,464$44,464-2.52%$103,400-23.41%61.3%1.13%$1,1779.46.50%Less safe51.31
146New Smyrna Beach22,993$50,9182.07%$210,900-9.79%69.0%1.21%$1,57619.110.80%Less safe51.30
147Eustis18,920$37,2030.94%$117,000-26.32%63.4%1.01%$1,15910.616.80%Safe51.27
148Horizon West CDP17,222$84,21546.38%$252,800-9.03%67.2%1.31%$1,90722.94.40%Less safe51.23
149Cooper City32,058$91,28511.87%$290,900-14.52%85.9%1.21%$2,32626.33.80%Most Safe51.22
150Tampa348,934$43,7403.80%$157,500-16.84%49.6%1.07%$1,51314.217.00%Safe51.11
151Tamarac62,478$43,2503.87%$116,600-25.02%72.6%1.43%$1,39810.58.10%Most Safe51.01
152South Daytona12,265$33,328-2.39%$111,000-24.18%60.9%0.98%$1,14010.015.90%Less safe50.93
153Jupiter Farms CDP11,803$90,2274.07%$301,600-12.73%90.5%1.29%$2,30427.34.10%Most Safe50.91
154Hallandale Beach38,270$33,8383.56%$144,700-15.48%56.3%1.11%$1,47013.116.50%Least Safe50.88
155Meadow Woods CDP27,301$47,81711.40%$145,000-24.60%67.8%1.19%$1,44413.115.30%Less safe50.87
156Ormond Beach38,502$49,0000.05%$166,300-17.39%77.8%1.29%$1,43515.08.10%Less safe50.80
157Gainesville126,465$32,1081.50%$145,700-11.43%38.0%1.21%$1,25713.218.30%Less safe50.77
158Palm City CDP23,380$74,699-0.15%$259,000-15.33%83.6%1.20%$2,03323.43.50%Most Safe50.76
159Westchase CDP22,897$91,2502.24%$274,400-7.08%63.2%1.50%$2,04224.85.20%Most Safe50.73
160Ocoee38,340$62,4879.94%$171,500-19.48%74.4%1.34%$1,65115.59.00%Safe50.63
161Atlantic Beach12,840$70,095-0.16%$322,700-6.84%62.6%0.80%$1,94529.28.10%Safe50.58
162University CDP (Orange County30,926$37,29731.90%$137,400-21.08%45.4%1.22%$1,34212.418.00%Less safe50.52
163Gladeview CDP11,825$23,3218.15%$106,900-14.00%36.6%1.25%$1,0849.742.80%Least Safe50.39
164Lealman CDP20,740$30,2630.31%$68,100-23.40%58.3%1.15%$1,1216.221.40%Least Safe50.24
165Elfers CDP14,301$33,3406.25%$66,800-35.02%69.6%1.08%$9576.021.30%Less safe50.23
166Holiday CDP21,049$33,595-4.29%$69,600-28.69%66.0%1.09%$1,0186.317.80%Less safe50.18
167Carrollwood CDP34,254$60,010-0.97%$180,200-17.60%69.1%1.30%$1,54616.37.70%Safe50.15
168Palm Valley CDP20,888$81,6524.25%$377,600-14.03%76.3%0.89%$2,08234.14.90%Most Safe50.12
169Merritt Island CDP35,063$53,4211.58%$172,500-20.03%75.6%1.15%$1,55615.610.10%Less safe50.07
170Apopka44,462$57,9259.73%$156,000-24.89%76.3%1.18%$1,53314.114.70%Less safe50.06
171Panama City Beach11,884$53,2422.09%$203,300-18.06%53.3%0.68%$1,70018.49.70%Least Safe50.05
172Bradenton50,777$40,5921.00%$126,100-22.06%53.2%1.07%$1,27211.414.40%Less safe49.88
173Melbourne77,216$40,4000.89%$113,400-26.08%60.2%1.04%$1,22210.312.30%Less safe49.81
174Fort Myers66,167$37,3605.41%$138,500-15.55%47.1%1.25%$1,35912.520.40%Less safe49.75
175Ojus CDP18,761$46,6795.96%$158,500-18.34%73.8%1.28%$1,76914.313.90%Safe49.60
176Forest City CDP14,724$55,0915.74%$164,200-25.09%61.0%1.06%$1,51814.810.60%Safe49.54
177The Crossings CDP24,313$62,0314.23%$220,600-14.60%78.5%1.26%$1,77519.910.50%Safe49.50
178Vero Beach15,577$37,937-0.56%$189,800-20.65%62.0%0.81%$1,71717.212.60%Safe49.35
179Deltona85,765$44,0461.24%$108,600-34.58%78.0%1.18%$1,2079.812.60%Safe49.24
180Lake City12,059$33,571-1.33%$104,300-19.71%47.1%1.05%$1,0309.426.60%Least Safe49.14
181Mount Dora12,663$48,4341.94%$185,700-13.79%51.3%1.32%$1,36916.813.20%Less safe49.12
182Royal Palm Beach35,482$66,6207.31%$184,400-21.06%79.7%1.34%$1,76216.76.60%Safe49.04
183Kendale Lakes CDP58,767$50,0322.55%$164,400-21.26%74.2%1.28%$1,57114.912.10%Safe48.86
184Coconut Creek55,590$53,3166.55%$139,400-23.70%65.4%1.33%$1,72112.66.70%Safe48.81
185Oakland Park42,795$45,1372.83%$150,600-17.66%55.3%1.16%$1,39913.616.90%Least Safe48.81
186Boynton Beach70,355$44,9733.59%$136,900-20.73%64.3%1.24%$1,47112.413.10%Less safe48.70
187Sunrise88,391$49,3704.09%$137,300-22.21%69.6%1.27%$1,59812.49.70%Less safe48.62
188Altamonte Springs41,889$50,0130.08%$134,800-26.22%49.0%0.98%$1,35312.27.80%Less safe48.57
189The Hammocks CDP54,833$58,0716.11%$217,700-14.89%64.0%1.30%$1,86819.79.30%Safe48.50
190Wilton Manors11,994$50,6181.72%$248,100-8.01%52.1%0.99%$1,94222.47.50%Least Safe48.50
191Egypt Lake-Leto CDP36,735$36,9761.09%$112,300-25.48%42.8%1.02%$1,27010.220.00%Safe48.32
192Palmetto Estates CDP15,969$58,86411.48%$154,600-28.53%81.7%1.24%$1,63314.010.50%Less safe48.30
193Winter Garden36,826$58,35511.93%$194,500-21.45%71.0%1.24%$1,86517.65.90%Less safe48.21
194Palatka10,464$21,864-1.43%$85,600-22.39%42.2%1.01%$9477.732.70%Least Safe48.16
195Buenaventura Lakes CDP30,324$41,15510.64%$104,400-35.52%69.0%1.22%$1,2489.415.80%Safe48.11
196Maitland16,273$69,0802.88%$294,600-14.68%57.2%0.90%$1,90526.66.30%Safe48.01
197Titusville44,032$40,4200.18%$91,600-34.90%65.9%0.98%$1,1128.315.30%Less safe47.95
198Doctor Phillips CDP12,028$76,8577.90%$279,000-18.33%79.3%1.23%$1,95225.26.20%Most Safe47.83
199Naples20,214$80,5710.61%$707,000-12.25%80.4%0.62%$3,06263.94.40%Safe47.76
200Palm Beach Gardens50,147$67,1025.61%$284,600-11.94%71.2%1.29%$1,90225.73.80%Safe47.70
201Cocoa17,261$30,804-0.24%$93,800-27.00%53.8%1.03%$1,0078.525.30%Least Safe47.55
202Port St. John CDP11,444$52,733-11.37%$100,200-32.02%77.9%1.20%$1,1199.111.40%Safe47.53
203East Lake-Orient Park CDP23,995$38,290-0.64%$86,600-29.02%48.9%1.11%$1,0857.820.90%Safe47.43
204Sarasota52,986$41,6700.79%$157,700-23.37%53.2%0.90%$1,43814.315.60%Least Safe47.39
205Sebring10,356$27,383-1.80%$77,600-27.61%49.2%1.14%$9527.021.20%Least Safe47.37
206Sunny Isles Beach21,583$45,9726.38%$273,300-15.12%53.6%0.94%$2,09324.712.30%Safe47.27
207Casselberry26,520$41,9501.01%$108,200-33.46%61.8%0.99%$1,2729.88.60%Less safe47.25
208Union Park CDP10,501$40,6775.23%$122,700-28.37%60.9%1.12%$1,24611.117.80%Least Safe47.21
209Hunters Creek CDP21,064$61,83450.76%$229,500-19.70%50.4%1.24%$1,91320.86.90%Safe47.18
210Country Club CDP48,349$46,47913.30%$150,600-24.93%53.0%1.31%$1,54313.617.70%Safe47.12
211Ives Estates CDP19,980$49,62713.35%$107,300-33.15%67.5%1.36%$1,3199.714.90%Less safe47.10
212Pinecrest18,914$122,2353.20%$716,900-5.12%79.1%1.01%$3,73264.84.10%Safe47.02
213Kissimmee63,392$35,4525.55%$112,900-25.38%44.0%1.08%$1,29910.221.90%Least Safe47.01
214Pembroke Pines159,920$61,5394.16%$202,800-18.72%73.1%1.33%$1,94418.36.50%Safe47.00
215Hialeah232,311$29,9593.18%$152,700-22.80%48.5%1.10%$1,40913.823.10%Safe46.99
216Kendall West CDP38,673$44,23710.67%$166,500-22.74%62.9%1.33%$1,65115.115.50%Safe46.86
217Weston67,567$91,6135.70%$382,900-9.11%72.3%1.50%$2,57034.66.10%Most Safe46.80
218Daytona Beach61,913$28,164-0.44%$113,000-24.77%46.8%1.04%$1,13210.221.30%Least Safe46.75
219San Carlos Park CDP17,646$46,133-3.03%$111,700-34.79%66.9%1.11%$1,23110.17.50%Safe46.54
220Miami Lakes30,396$65,2695.90%$298,500-12.21%65.3%1.23%$2,13327.08.30%Most Safe46.48
221Goldenrod CDP12,500$39,0343.16%$152,100-27.05%44.5%0.89%$1,30113.814.80%Least Safe46.47
222Sanford55,296$39,7765.63%$104,400-33.21%56.6%1.06%$1,1489.417.80%Least Safe46.23
223Pompano Beach103,234$40,5342.92%$154,900-19.87%55.5%1.18%$1,49814.018.20%Least Safe46.20
224Country Walk CDP17,156$77,4514.85%$225,900-15.39%88.7%1.59%$2,12020.46.20%Most Safe46.12
225New Port Richey15,063$30,660-1.68%$65,500-30.39%56.0%1.21%$1,0685.917.90%Least Safe46.06
226Plantation88,486$66,8863.93%$236,900-16.73%66.4%1.15%$1,93121.47.40%Less safe46.01
227Westview CDP10,365$35,58813.51%$115,300-30.83%63.6%1.19%$1,36210.426.10%Least Safe45.91
228Olympia Heights CDP13,991$54,1678.16%$258,700-19.28%81.7%1.16%$1,88023.415.70%Less safe45.89
229Cheval CDP10,992$63,1948.26%$270,900-11.73%51.1%1.63%$2,23224.58.90%Most Safe45.61
230Tamiami CDP57,123$48,2542.55%$211,800-18.79%77.6%1.30%$1,79219.213.20%Safe45.60
231Jasmine Estates CDP18,470$30,851-1.74%$68,400-35.71%65.1%1.02%$9916.221.80%Least Safe45.58
232Kendall CDP78,580$59,7532.88%$280,200-12.85%63.5%1.16%$1,95725.36.60%Less safe45.54
233Orlando250,224$41,9015.79%$158,600-20.54%37.4%1.11%$1,52914.315.60%Least Safe45.34
234Parkland25,895$126,90511.99%$473,000-16.24%85.9%1.57%$3,31042.83.70%Most Safe45.21
235Wellington59,022$81,4817.37%$293,900-12.01%79.4%1.44%$2,29326.65.90%Most Safe45.19
236Fountainebleau CDP53,413$42,2731.60%$124,900-30.38%53.7%1.16%$1,34311.312.90%Safe45.12
237Westchester CDP29,921$45,0830.50%$230,200-16.44%66.1%1.19%$1,76220.812.10%Less safe45.11
238Aventura36,979$59,6576.49%$288,200-11.32%67.8%1.10%$2,13826.19.70%Least Safe45.05
239University Park CDP26,304$43,8635.03%$240,400-18.31%63.6%1.13%$1,75521.714.20%Less safe45.00
240Cocoa Beach11,287$51,866-1.84%$242,900-17.86%66.8%0.98%$1,82422.06.00%Least Safe44.61
241Oak Ridge CDP22,313$30,67912.60%$88,000-32.36%36.0%1.17%$1,0978.028.80%Least Safe44.60
242Richmond West CDP34,825$70,2733.48%$195,600-25.54%90.8%1.44%$1,83517.76.50%Safe44.51
243Coral Terrace CDP25,318$48,9384.31%$236,700-17.58%67.7%1.17%$1,85021.412.10%Less safe44.41
244Greenacres38,444$43,2354.34%$99,800-36.07%65.1%1.19%$1,3109.015.80%Less safe44.27
245Davie95,721$58,9244.84%$200,800-18.04%72.0%1.39%$1,99318.28.60%Less safe44.19
246Jacksonville Beach21,822$58,7921.69%$254,400-15.51%59.9%1.17%$1,83623.07.20%Less safe44.16
247Lighthouse Point10,693$74,7322.62%$331,600-15.84%79.6%1.10%$2,22630.04.70%Safe44.14
248Sunset CDP17,097$65,7270.83%$280,700-16.66%83.0%1.19%$2,05225.45.70%Safe44.13
249Lauderdale Lakes33,710$33,0703.40%$87,000-22.53%58.8%1.57%$1,3467.920.90%Least Safe44.12
250Deerfield Beach77,341$38,2092.77%$106,100-28.89%62.8%1.41%$1,4109.617.00%Safe44.01
251Cutler Bay42,573$62,1308.31%$179,700-26.95%74.9%1.36%$1,73116.38.20%Less safe43.98
252The Acreage CDP37,773$73,560-1.19%$204,700-24.27%90.4%1.65%$1,88718.55.70%Most Safe43.96
253Palm Springs21,302$34,08113.33%$89,400-35.54%51.5%1.32%$1,1878.120.90%Least Safe43.91
254Winter Park28,771$56,9952.14%$308,600-15.10%63.1%0.92%$2,12627.96.60%Less safe43.91
255Miami Shores10,736$88,9772.04%$363,600-3.99%85.3%1.16%$2,54932.96.30%Less safe43.82
256South Miami12,036$54,1014.09%$354,100-7.83%61.8%1.01%$2,17832.07.70%Least Safe43.39
257Coral Springs125,150$66,2713.20%$269,600-13.48%62.9%1.40%$2,17824.48.40%Most Safe43.30
258Coral Gables49,319$93,5906.19%$621,800-4.37%64.2%1.16%$3,33056.23.90%Less safe43.29
259Alafaya CDP85,561$63,0227.54%$190,200-23.46%62.8%1.34%$1,81517.28.60%Less safe43.07
260Lake Worth35,903$37,0361.94%$131,600-18.61%49.0%1.35%$1,48611.925.50%Least Safe43.06
261Lockhart CDP14,489$47,6869.23%$101,500-38.45%64.2%1.24%$1,2739.214.60%Least Safe43.00
262Southchase CDP16,131$52,6610.62%$167,900-25.28%70.4%1.38%$1,54015.210.90%Less safe42.97
263Boca Raton88,187$71,8673.90%$354,800-10.36%68.9%1.17%$2,32132.15.40%Safe42.96
264Riviera Beach33,123$38,3001.89%$128,900-26.17%55.2%1.35%$1,41611.719.40%Less safe42.89
265Delray Beach62,828$50,8333.15%$176,900-24.63%63.9%1.27%$1,57016.012.90%Least Safe42.82
266Dania Beach30,531$40,2223.38%$155,600-16.48%54.1%1.46%$1,64914.122.10%Less safe42.77
267Sweetwater20,562$31,85826.89%$105,100-27.12%40.4%1.56%$1,3569.524.00%Less safe42.60
268West Perrine CDP10,317$39,344-1.45%$129,800-21.85%55.3%1.28%$1,48811.722.90%Least Safe42.43
269Hollywood145,128$46,4192.78%$172,800-22.44%59.9%1.32%$1,69615.612.80%Less safe42.38
270Brownsville CDP14,835$20,8049.14%$99,900-29.85%37.0%1.20%$1,1969.033.20%Least Safe42.01
271Palmetto Bay24,214$108,3603.07%$429,900-10.79%84.4%1.18%$2,79838.95.50%Safe41.84
272Belle Glade17,785$31,6671.09%$97,400-29.73%42.6%1.14%$1,2358.827.50%Least Safe41.70
273Holly Hill11,680$26,699-1.60%$76,500-34.22%51.8%1.24%$9876.926.70%Least Safe41.32
274Three Lakes CDP16,263$70,0111.96%$212,200-20.29%71.9%1.65%$1,93519.26.50%Safe41.30
275Miramar128,414$64,9879.43%$194,000-27.48%74.2%1.50%$2,02217.58.50%Safe41.23
276Miami Gardens110,867$39,5453.97%$129,200-29.71%66.7%1.41%$1,46811.719.10%Less safe41.06
277Pine Hills CDP64,516$36,423-2.03%$92,400-35.61%55.6%1.11%$1,2018.422.10%Least Safe40.74
278West Palm Beach102,283$45,0273.53%$173,000-21.68%50.5%1.41%$1,63815.615.10%Least Safe40.59
279Pine Castle CDP10,668$32,6742.59%$105,000-27.18%41.0%1.29%$1,3429.526.50%Least Safe40.58
280Doral49,363$72,62314.23%$296,400-12.85%54.6%1.40%$2,29526.89.80%Less safe40.54
281West Little River CDP31,226$32,688-1.92%$108,400-32.67%60.8%1.23%$1,2789.820.00%Least Safe40.53
282North Miami60,756$36,7762.98%$146,300-25.58%49.0%1.25%$1,53713.224.40%Least Safe40.45
283Key West25,187$54,3062.83%$430,900-12.81%43.9%0.69%$2,48339.06.60%Least Safe40.26
284Fort Pierce42,744$25,9760.88%$85,400-29.01%45.3%1.26%$1,2757.731.80%Least Safe40.22
285Lake Butler CDP16,053$107,2660.04%$503,800-20.57%83.0%1.23%$3,08445.62.00%Most Safe40.16
286Fort Lauderdale171,137$48,8982.65%$243,600-16.46%52.9%1.14%$2,00822.016.00%Least Safe40.05
287North Miami Beach43,028$38,1303.52%$142,600-30.84%54.3%1.28%$1,48212.918.90%Less safe39.96
288Goulds CDP11,210$28,73815.87%$124,300-25.92%50.8%1.70%$1,40911.235.20%Less safe39.90
289Princeton CDP26,164$48,17019.73%$125,100-34.54%63.3%1.56%$1,52011.320.00%Least Safe39.09
290Miami Beach90,669$42,5473.08%$341,000-2.40%35.9%1.10%$2,42030.812.90%Least Safe39.08
291North Lauderdale42,354$42,6103.42%$102,500-35.41%55.0%1.50%$1,3889.318.30%Safe38.99
292Westwood Lakes CDP11,860$49,418-0.78%$194,600-28.03%79.4%1.44%$1,76017.68.40%Less safe38.43
293Lauderhill69,082$37,6912.96%$97,700-33.76%57.5%1.48%$1,4498.819.70%Less safe38.30
294Fairview Shores CDP10,457$41,2841.33%$120,400-37.94%53.8%1.10%$1,42810.917.30%Least Safe38.02
295Opa-locka15,867$19,2434.37%$100,800-30.48%36.8%1.35%$1,1919.140.50%Least Safe37.98
296Leisure City CDP24,125$34,0008.12%$92,300-37.04%56.0%1.36%$1,2528.335.00%Least Safe37.97
297Azalea Park CDP13,203$35,6710.36%$87,300-42.90%50.0%1.17%$1,1207.922.10%Least Safe37.89
298Lantana10,822$43,4584.14%$116,300-36.34%53.3%1.23%$1,54010.520.40%Least Safe37.73
299Miami Springs14,255$52,0213.22%$288,700-14.03%59.4%1.43%$2,19726.111.70%Less safe37.53
300South Miami Heights CDP37,564$39,195-0.37%$140,400-31.28%57.0%1.36%$1,47712.717.80%Least Safe37.51
301West Park14,604$40,1402.66%$110,000-31.55%64.7%1.75%$1,4579.916.60%Least Safe37.24
302Key Largo CDP10,781$56,809-9.53%$324,800-23.68%68.4%0.87%$1,90129.410.50%Less safe37.17
303University CDP (Hillsborough County)41,732$22,5233.66%$82,500-31.54%13.9%1.54%$1,1657.539.10%Less safe36.55
304Miami416,432$30,8585.14%$211,400-17.90%31.6%1.34%$1,82819.125.00%Least Safe36.53
305Pinewood CDP16,531$27,983-0.33%$114,100-31.22%43.6%1.36%$1,28810.327.00%Least Safe36.31
306Golden Glades CDP33,620$37,7785.48%$134,800-35.66%54.8%1.46%$1,57212.220.60%Less safe34.81
307Homestead63,459$40,25010.28%$110,700-34.73%41.2%1.86%$1,44110.026.80%Least Safe33.40
308Florida City11,853$26,5398.45%$104,000-40.50%29.2%1.84%$1,3139.441.50%Least Safe27.83
 

Methodology

We analyzed cities and census-designated places in Florida with populations of 10,000 or more; we excluded communities with restrictions, such as on the age of residents. All housing and demographic data are from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. Our rankings are based on these factors:

Home market health is 40% of the score. To determine market health, we looked at the median population growth rate and home value growth from 2011 to 2014. We also looked at the percentage of housing units that were owner occupied.

Housing cost is 40% of the score. To determine housing cost, we averaged the median property tax rate, how long it would take a first-time homebuyer to save 20% of the median home value, and the difference between selected monthly ownership costs of each location and the recommended $1,179 in Florida. Considering that Americans on average buy their first home at age 34, we looked at the 25- to 44-year-old group’s median annual income, which in Florida was $50,523 in 2014. The personal savings rate is from the U.S. 10-year average, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

Prosperity and safety are 20% of the score. To determine prosperity, we looked at the percentage of families living in poverty in each city. For safety, a crime risk index for Florida was provided by NeighborhoodScout. We grouped the index, with scores from 0 to 100, into categories of "most safe," "safe," "less safe" and "least safe." To find out more about how the crime score is calculated, go to NeighborhoodScout.com.

Florida image via iStock.
  

Top Places for First-time Homebuyers in Connecticut

By Emily Starbuck Crone

Connecticut, with its scenic coastline and proximity to New York City, is a desirable place to live. Fairfield County, in the southern part of the state and closest to Manhattan, can be expensive — many of its towns are too costly for first-time homebuyers on a budget. But central and northern Connecticut offer communities with more affordable homes and cost of living, well-suited to those looking to make their first major real estate purchase.

To help first-time homebuyers decide on the ideal place to buy a house in Connecticut, NerdWallet analyzed how much they could spend on a mortgage and examined the data on appreciation to find the best locations, based on the health of the local housing market, the costs of housing, and the prosperity and safety in each community. To be sure, the state is not a magnet for first-time buyers based on affordability, but the places we identified stand out as being the most suitable for those looking for a foothold in the housing market.

How much can first-time homebuyers afford?

For our calculations, we assumed a first-time homebuyer in Connecticut earns an annual income of $73,361, the 2014 state median for households headed by residents ages 25 to 44. We also assumed a personal savings rate of 4.8%, based on the U.S. 10-year average as measured by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Assuming the homebuyers are starting with nothing in the bank, we then estimated how many years it would take to save for a 20% down payment. Of course, the actual number of years of savings will vary depending on each individual's financial situation, and it’s possible to buy a home with a down payment as low as 3%.

By following the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's recommendation that homeowners shouldn't allocate more than 28% of their gross monthly income to housing costs, we determined that a first-time homebuyer in Connecticut could afford to spend $1,712 a month on ownership costs — mortgage, taxes, utilities and insurance.

Our top 10 list consists of suburban and rural communities, none of them within reasonable commuting reach of New York City, the nation’s No. 1 jobs market. The top place within commuting range is Bethel, which came in 40th among 116 communities we looked at.

Top places for first-time homebuyers in Connecticut

best-places-connecticut-homebuyers-story

1. New Hartford

The rural town of New Hartford, in the northwest part of Connecticut, has a very low poverty rate. With a population of just over 6,900, this small community was the 11th-safest among the 116 in the state we analyzed. Additionally, the select monthly ownership costs were the second-lowest among the top 10 cities, at $1,813; that’s $235 less than the median for all 116 communities. New Hartford is home to Ski Sundown, a popular ski area, making it a perfect spot for winter sports enthusiasts.

2. Westbrook

On the shoreline of Long Island Sound between New Haven and New London, Westbrook had the second-most expensive home value among the top 10. But it also had the strongest home value growth rate among all 116 communities analyzed — a positive economic sign for homebuyers. It’s also closer to New York than most other communities in the top 10, though it’s beyond a reasonable commuting distance. Although home values in many areas of the state fell between 2011 and 2014, they grew by 4.87% in Westbrook; that’s well above the median decline of 6.8% for all communities analyzed. Westbrook also had the lowest real estate tax rate among the top 10, at 1.15% of assessed value per year.

3. Coventry

Sprawling across 37 square miles of woods and former farmlands in northern Connecticut, Coventry is a quiet historic town about 20 miles from Hartford. Homeowners here see median monthly ownership costs of $1,883, which is $165 less than the median of all communities analyzed. Among the top 10 locations, it takes the third-shortest amount of time to save for a down payment in Coventry (19.86 years). With a crime rating of "safe," low poverty rates and home values nearly $20,000 less than the state median, Coventry could be an ideal location for first-time homebuyers if they can find employment within commuting distance.

4. Berlin

The population growth in this central Connecticut town was the third-highest of all 116 communities analyzed, rising 3.34% between 2011 and 2014 — much higher than the median population growth of 0.5% for all places analyzed. The median home value here as of 2014 was $286,800, slightly higher than the median of all places analyzed. Berlin has a crime score of “safe” and is ringed by highways, making Hartford an easy commute. Also nearby are Central Connecticut State University and Wesleyan University.

5. Colchester

In this town of just over 16,000 residents, the median age is 39, the youngest among our top 10 cities. About 20 miles from Middletown, Colchester was the 20th-safest community among all 116 analyzed. Although home values decreased in Colchester between 2011 and 2014, the population had positive growth. This historic town was settled in 1698 and is close to several beautiful state parks, with plentiful hiking trails and other outdoor activities. Hartford, New Haven and New London are all commutable from here.

6. Windsor Locks

Home to Bradley International Airport, Windsor Locks is in northern Connecticut. At $1,684, the median monthly owner costs in Windsor Locks were the lowest among our top 10 towns, and $364 lower than the median of all Connecticut communities that we analyzed. Although crime and poverty are slightly higher here than among the other top 10 cities, homes were least expensive, and it takes the least amount of time among our top 10 towns to save up for a 20% down payment (15.5 years). From here, it’s an easy commute to Hartford and Springfield, Massachusetts.

7. Durham

This small rural community near Middletown is primarily residential. Home values in Durham were highest among the top 10 places, at $358,200 as of 2014; that's $79,400 more than the median of all locations analyzed. Durham falls into the "most safe" crime score category and has very low poverty rates. Additionally, home value growth was the second-highest here among all communities between 2011 and 2014, a positive economic sign.

8. Ellington

Seated in the Connecticut River Valley about 20 miles from Hartford, this community is rural and agricultural, but is quickly growing. Ellington experienced the second-highest population growth among the top 10 locations (2.15%), and 18th among all communities, with a total of close to 16,000 residents as of 2014. The median home value in 2014 was $18,600 less than the median of all cities analyzed. Crystal Lake and the Shenipsit State Forest can be found in Ellington, offering easily accessible outdoor activities.

9. Marlborough

The rural suburban community of Marlborough is about 17 miles southeast of Hartford and rests among forests and a lake. It has the lowest population among the top 10, with nearly 6,500 residents as of 2014, though it had the third-highest population growth between 2011 and 2014 among the top 10 cities. Marlborough also had the third-highest home value growth between 2011 and 2014 among all communities analyzed; while the median was -6.8%, it was 0.64% in Marlborough. Additionally, this town has the highest percentage of owner-occupied homes among the top 10, at 94%.

10. Windsor

Located along the Connecticut River, the historic town of Windsor is just north of Hartford, making it an easy commute for those who work there. Among the top 10 cities, it takes the second-least amount of time to save for a 20% down payment here, at 17.4 years. Living here is comparatively affordable; the monthly ownership costs are $1,827, which is $221 less than the median of all communities analyzed. Windsor is the largest town in the top 10 by population, with about 29,000 residents as of 2014. And with its proximity to Hartford, there are more public transportation options here than in most other cities on this list.

Top places for first-time homebuyers in Connecticut: Full data

Scroll through the table below to see the data for the 116 places analyzed in Connecticut.

Edit
RankCityPOPULATION IN 2014MEDIAN ANNUAL INCOMEPOPULATION GROWTH RATE 2011-2014MEDIAN HOME VALUE IN 2014HOME VALUE GROWTH RATE 2011-2014PERCENTAGE OF HOUSING OCCUPIED BY OWNERSMEDIAN PROPERTY TAX RATESelected monthly owner costsYears to save for 20% down paymentPERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES LIVING IN POVERTYCrime-risk scoreScore
1New Hartford 6,910 $82,2450.13%$278,800-2.24%91%1.89%$1,81321.380.00%Most safe72
2Westbrook 6,916 $78,4170.36%$357,6004.87%80%1.15%$2,13127.421.50%Less safe71
3Coventry 12,434 $92,6630.26%$259,000-0.69%91%1.89%$1,88319.862.30%Safe69
4Berlin 20,352 $87,5183.34%$286,800-2.65%85%1.83%$2,131223.80%Safe67
5Colchester 16,143 $98,8991.34%$275,700-3.64%81%1.86%$2,08421.143.20%Most safe66
6Windsor Locks 12,554 $67,2220.71%$202,100-5.07%79%1.64%$1,68415.54.60%Less safe66
7Durham 7,371 $117,3280.39%$358,2000.90%91%1.91%$2,49827.470.00%Most safe65
8Ellington 15,725 $84,3392.15%$260,200-5.59%69%1.78%$1,95219.961.90%Safe65
9Marlborough 6,428 $112,7141.47%$299,3000.64%94%2.07%$2,25222.950.70%Less safe65
10Windsor 29,130 $79,2440.58%$227,300-5.01%82%1.79%$1,82717.434.00%Safe65
11South Windsor 25,795 $94,2170.85%$272,100-0.91%88%2.17%$2,10720.871.40%Less safe64
12Canton 10,334 $89,4521.92%$309,400-6.44%82%1.74%$2,22423.731.50%Most safe64
13Haddam 8,356 $99,0101.08%$327,800-2.18%91%1.88%$2,31625.144.60%Most safe64
14Suffield 15,764 $94,6101.62%$313,600-5.85%86%1.72%$2,28424.053.00%Most safe64
15Glastonbury 34,661 $108,1571.43%$347,8000.09%81%2.02%$2,42426.672.90%Most safe64
16Burlington 9,443 $109,0372.74%$318,400-2.96%94%1.87%$2,24724.423.30%Less safe64
17Tolland 14,971 $107,2900.27%$277,700-5.64%94%2.03%$2,14721.31.30%Most safe63
18East Hampton 12,936 $96,0660.08%$267,300-5.31%88%1.85%$2,06520.51.60%Safe63
19Southington 43,509 $81,2851.82%$263,300-5.32%83%1.69%$1,95720.193.20%Less safe63
20Lebanon 7,314 $90,1490.63%$269,300-7.84%91%1.58%$2,08420.650.00%Safe63
21Newington 30,652 $79,0080.69%$232,400-1.90%82%1.98%$1,86917.822.80%Least safe63
22Granby 11,310 $100,2621.05%$289,000-4.62%92%2.13%$2,22622.160.60%Most safe63
23Somers 11,431 $95,1390.40%$314,600-5.58%86%1.50%$2,14424.133.40%Most safe63
24Prospect 9,615 $100,5923.00%$298,500-7.59%91%1.80%$2,15722.892.00%Safe63
25Wallingford 45,154 $75,5330.50%$265,800-4.80%75%1.74%$1,90520.383.70%Safe63
26Woodstock 7,916 $70,927-0.08%$246,200-12.20%84%1.38%$1,91018.882.60%Most safe62
27East Haddam 9,142 $82,7730.80%$285,000-8.89%84%1.56%$2,07421.863.30%Most safe62
28Cheshire 29,272 $107,7160.25%$340,000-5.08%88%1.80%$2,33826.081.30%Most safe62
29Thomaston 7,793 $73,679-0.88%$226,500-4.35%81%2.10%$1,86617.371.60%Safe61
30Wolcott 16,724 $83,3171.16%$243,300-7.60%88%1.86%$1,90618.662.00%Less safe61
31Farmington 25,515 $92,9331.31%$331,300-1.81%75%1.49%$2,11325.413.10%Least safe61
32Old Lyme 7,587 $87,8170.05%$402,800-5.13%82%1.23%$2,19830.890.30%Safe61
33Brooklyn 8,240 $59,3691.33%$228,500-10.60%79%1.47%$1,65117.529.20%Safe61
34Simsbury 23,681 $109,8230.78%$334,800-3.21%86%2.14%$2,44325.681.20%Most safe61
35Shelton 40,472 $88,3692.96%$348,200-7.37%80%1.42%$2,32026.74.10%Safe61
36East Lyme 19,118 $81,7110.20%$311,900-6.31%80%1.48%$2,07023.922.20%Safe60
37Plainville 17,791 $55,5060.68%$202,500-2.92%68%1.99%$1,65715.536.10%Least safe60
38New Fairfield 14,079 $101,7501.68%$358,600-5.78%96%1.67%$2,39927.51.50%Safe60
39Ledyard 15,090 $87,1010.49%$247,700-6.74%82%1.88%$1,994195.30%Safe60
40Bethel 19,078 $85,3773.16%$337,000-6.18%78%1.82%$2,46125.842.50%Most safe60
41Killingly 17,281 $57,016-0.44%$193,800-7.09%70%1.62%$1,62514.866.40%Less safe60
42Killingworth 6,516 $112,3440.26%$386,900-4.96%95%1.67%$2,53229.670.70%Most safe60
43Rocky Hill 19,838 $75,4421.56%$267,300-6.47%68%1.79%$1,93520.54.20%Less safe60
44Oxford 12,831 $98,5043.61%$355,100-9.44%88%1.63%$2,50527.231.80%Most safe60
45Hebron 9,627 $101,9740.07%$306,500-7.46%91%2.15%$2,25523.510.00%Most safe60
46Cromwell 14,077 $80,0280.90%$242,800-5.34%83%2.03%$2,00218.622.40%Less safe59
47Portland 9,483 $82,7700.14%$269,000-9.67%82%2.02%$2,03020.632.50%Most safe59
48Branford 28,066 $71,058-0.12%$311,000-0.38%68%1.59%$2,16423.854.50%Least safe59
49North Branford 14,387 $87,4080.22%$294,000-6.22%88%1.93%$2,13022.553.30%Safe59
50Madison 18,284 $108,2310.22%$459,200-2.81%88%1.48%$2,73935.221.60%Most safe59
51Thompson 9,390 $67,519-0.59%$195,500-15.18%81%1.39%$1,48214.995.40%Safe59
52Stonington 18,539 $81,6730.31%$329,200-4.05%72%1.26%$2,10925.254.80%Less safe59
53Avon 18,298 $116,5652.46%$379,000-6.77%86%1.71%$2,56029.072.90%Most safe59
54Middlebury 7,575 $95,3201.56%$349,900-7.90%90%1.86%$2,43226.830.60%Most safe58
55Old Saybrook 10,222 $74,896-0.82%$384,200-7.15%84%1.15%$2,24129.463.70%Safe58
56Ridgefield 25,025 $147,9362.27%$681,700-3.66%83%1.46%$3,65239.242.20%Most safe58
57Montville 19,649 $67,0440.74%$206,500-12.39%81%1.76%$1,74415.843.90%Less safe58
58Enfield 44,713 $68,162-0.08%$191,600-7.53%75%2.07%$1,72814.694.80%Less safe57
59Clinton 13,188 $71,028-0.77%$280,600-5.04%81%1.63%$2,00121.525.20%Less safe57
60Southbury 19,876 $76,8960.50%$314,000-6.77%86%1.68%$2,30524.084.30%Safe57
61Winchester 11,089 $60,163-1.13%$187,900-5.15%61%2.14%$1,68414.415.20%Less safe56
62Watertown 22,286 $78,767-0.96%$253,100-8.63%82%1.72%$1,94319.411.60%Less safe56
63Vernon 29,162 $60,556-0.13%$207,700-5.80%55%2.16%$1,81115.937.20%Safe56
64Redding 9,267 $121,6672.31%$618,900-3.99%80%1.58%$3,65639.241.30%Most safe56
65Mansfield 26,328 $66,4040.76%$242,900-6.68%64%1.83%$1,98118.633.00%Less safe56
66Wethersfield 26,579 $78,008-0.23%$254,200-6.13%79%2.25%$1,96519.493.60%Safe56
67Bloomfield 20,626 $73,5191.08%$214,800-4.91%73%2.31%$1,88916.475.80%Least safe55
68Plainfield 15,270 $62,630-0.73%$175,700-14.46%75%1.92%$1,62913.478.00%Most safe55
69Griswold 11,952 $59,5450.97%$212,100-12.79%73%1.58%$1,83816.277.20%Less safe55
70Groton 40,136 $60,157-0.13%$246,100-4.43%47%1.65%$1,92118.876.60%Less safe55
71Waterford 19,499 $75,1810.25%$259,800-10.75%85%1.38%$1,96519.924.30%Least safe55
72Woodbury 9,851 $84,868-0.78%$358,800-7.91%77%1.56%$2,31027.523.20%Safe54
73Middletown 47,424 $61,373-0.18%$231,700-3.05%53%2.07%$1,88617.779.90%Less safe54
74Putnam 9,515 $46,418-0.48%$187,200-13.45%60%1.38%$1,65014.366.30%Less safe53
75Windham 25,271 $41,0190.57%$167,600-4.01%47%2.17%$1,62512.8522.00%Least safe53
76Danbury 82,781 $65,9813.35%$295,600-10.45%60%1.50%$2,19422.678.40%Less safe53
77Bristol 60,556 $60,2080.14%$199,000-8.34%67%2.04%$1,73815.267.20%Least safe53
78Seymour 16,551 $77,4650.66%$266,700-8.48%76%2.12%$2,11420.455.00%Safe53
79Beacon Falls 6,065 $87,2731.61%$255,900-15.24%82%1.96%$2,01619.632.10%Safe53
80Guilford 22,405 $99,4410.60%$383,600-8.82%86%1.65%$2,51129.422.80%Safe52
81Monroe 19,744 $108,6881.78%$390,700-8.07%94%2.02%$2,79829.962.60%Most safe52
82Brookfield 16,774 $106,9202.66%$365,700-14.28%85%1.61%$2,51428.050.70%Most safe52
83New Milford 27,821 $79,028-1.07%$302,000-10.12%79%1.70%$2,18123.165.10%Safe52
84West Hartford 63,396 $84,0920.52%$304,000-2.84%72%2.19%$2,28523.315.60%Less safe52
85Essex 6,643 $88,550-0.81%$379,800-11.80%82%1.33%$2,18529.132.00%Safe52
86Hamden 61,605 $67,7711.75%$235,600-6.32%66%2.39%$1,99518.074.40%Least safe51
87Newtown 27,960 $108,6672.66%$417,100-9.99%89%1.91%$2,92731.993.10%Most safe51
88Plymouth 12,085 $71,441-1.09%$199,300-10.79%81%2.36%$1,81315.284.40%Less safe51
89East Windsor 11,353 $72,8662.98%$201,600-14.29%70%1.90%$1,93315.464.30%Least safe51
90North Haven 23,997 $84,0780.07%$299,700-8.85%86%1.92%$2,30822.982.60%Less safe50
91Litchfield 8,365 $82,188-1.40%$298,600-15.53%78%1.61%$1,94922.93.00%Most safe50
92Stafford 12,013 $62,859-0.35%$198,500-11.30%74%2.03%$1,76015.228.20%Less safe50
93Torrington 35,774 $55,460-1.67%$172,800-7.84%67%2.37%$1,65213.256.60%Least safe49
94East Haven 29,139 $61,435-0.04%$215,000-10.60%71%1.97%$1,88716.497.20%Least safe49
95Woodbridge 8,969 $134,045-0.26%$468,000-3.49%91%2.10%$3,60935.891.10%Safe48
96Orange 13,947 $105,1900.45%$387,800-6.76%88%1.66%$2,68729.742.50%Least safe48
97Fairfield 60,678 $120,0822.71%$575,000-6.34%83%1.46%$3,22039.242.90%Less safe48
98Milford 53,039 $80,7430.58%$304,200-9.44%77%1.80%$2,22323.333.10%Least safe47
99Manchester 58,270 $63,1980.64%$192,600-10.08%56%2.32%$1,78614.778.90%Least safe46
100Norwich 40,378 $49,6950.73%$183,200-10.76%52%2.03%$1,75214.0512.20%Least safe46
101Stratford 52,092 $66,4511.91%$256,900-11.20%81%2.35%$2,15119.75.30%Least safe46
102Meriden 60,616 $53,4010.01%$184,300-10.27%61%2.36%$1,69114.1311.00%Least safe45
103Trumbull 36,444 $108,5541.94%$399,700-11.22%89%1.97%$2,87830.650.80%Safe45
104Derby 12,837 $52,136-0.06%$212,700-9.68%58%2.22%$1,87916.3111.10%Least safe44
105New London 27,536 $41,230-0.05%$186,700-8.66%36%2.15%$1,62914.3221.80%Least safe44
106New Britain 73,095 $40,5150.05%$162,100-6.84%40%2.75%$1,64912.4318.30%Least safe42
107Hartford 125,211 $29,3130.32%$163,600-12.04%24%2.08%$1,62212.5531.30%Least safe41
108East Hartford 51,211 $50,3550.23%$169,900-10.58%58%2.68%$1,76213.0311.90%Least safe41
109Norwalk 87,214 $76,0512.43%$406,600-11.65%62%1.60%$2,65131.185.90%Less safe41
110Naugatuck 31,790 $58,6410.04%$192,500-13.05%67%2.87%$1,84714.767.80%Least safe40
111West Haven 55,290 $49,9930.07%$210,300-8.41%55%2.88%$2,02016.1310.30%Least safe39
112Stamford 125,401 $77,2212.97%$506,000-11.45%55%1.36%$2,85338.816.90%Less safe38
113Ansonia 19,128 $43,144-0.34%$219,200-17.13%55%2.12%$1,97216.8116.70%Least safe35
114Waterbury 109,887 $41,136-0.17%$140,700-14.21%47%3.39%$1,63410.7920.50%Least safe34
115New Haven 130,553 $37,5081.04%$199,200-12.86%30%2.44%$2,00215.2822.30%Least safe33
116Bridgeport 146,680 $41,2042.28%$176,000-22.91%41%3.17%$2,01113.520.40%Least safe28

Methodology

We analyzed cities and census-designated places in Connecticut with populations of 6,000 or more; we excluded communities with restrictions, such as on the age of residents. Seven Fairfield County towns were also excluded from the analysis because their home values and monthly ownership costs were deemed too expensive for first-time homebuyers. All housing and demographic data are from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2014 American Community Survey. Our rankings are based on these factors:

Home market health is 40% of the score. To determine market health, we looked at the median population growth rate and home value growth from 2011 to 2014. We also looked at the percentage of housing units that were owner-occupied.

Housing cost is 40% of the score. To determine housing cost, we averaged the median property tax rate, how long it would take a first-time homebuyer to save 20% of the median home value, and the difference between selected monthly ownership costs — mortgage, taxes, utilities and insurance — of each location and the recommended $1,712 in Connecticut. Considering that Americans on average buy their first home at age 34, we looked at the median annual income of the 25-to-44 age group, which in Connecticut was $73,361 in 2014. The personal savings rate is from the U.S. 10-year average, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

Prosperity and safety are 20% of the score. To determine prosperity, we looked at the percentage of families living in poverty in each location. For safety, a crime risk index for Connecticut was provided by NeighborhoodScout. We grouped the index, with scores from 0 to 100, into categories of "most safe," "safe," "less safe" and "least safe." These categories are relative to the entire state. As a whole, Connecticut experiences less crime than the national median, according to NeighborhoodScout. To find out more about how the crime score is calculated, go to NeighborhoodScout.com.

Emily Starbuck Crone is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: emily.crone@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @emstarbuck.

Connecticut shoreline image via iStock.