Best Cities for Homeownership in Kentucky

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Written by Tom Dunlap

Kentucky, which is officially the Commonwealth of Kentucky, has not recovered as quickly from the Great Recession as many other states, although some metrics are showing growth. Personal income in the state rose by 2% from 2012 to 2013 to a per capita personal income of $36,239, according to the U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Kentucky gained 7,000 new jobs from March to April this year, and the unemployment rate in the “Bluegrass State” continues to trend downward, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

To encourage residents to buy homes, the Kentucky Housing Corporation, a self-supporting corporation created by the state legislature, offers down-payment assistance and homebuyer education classes to encourage families to invest in homes. Other county and local organizations offer similar services across the state. They serve a growing population: In 2012, nearly 10,000 more people moved to the state than left the state, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

NerdWallet crunched the numbers to find the cities in Kentucky with more than 5,000 residents that are the best for homeownership. Here’s what the best cities have in common:

  • Many of the top 20 Kentucky cities for homeownership are in the northern part of the state, near Cincinnati, Ohio.
  • Four of the Cincinnati suburbs gained population at rates of more than 6%, according to U.S. Census data crunched by NerdWallet.
  • In 18 of the top 20 cities, homeowners spent less than 30% of their median household income on their homes, which meets the standard of affordability set by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Residents who live near Cincinnati have access to job opportunities throughout the region, with companies such as The Kroger Co., Procter & Gamble, Macy’s Inc. and American Financial Group, which all have headquarters nearby.

In addition to health and financial services, Kentucky’s economy is rooted in manufacturing, trade, transportation and utilities, and niche markets such as bourbon distilleries.

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NerdWallet’s analysis of the best places for homeownership in Kentucky answers three questions:

1. Are homes available? We looked at the area’s homeownership rate to determine the availability of homes. A low homeownership rate is likely a signal of competitive inventory, more options for renters rather than buyers and expensive housing. Areas with a high homeownership rate led to a higher overall score.

2. Can you afford to live there? We looked at median household income, monthly homeowner costs and median home value to assess affordability and determine whether residents could live comfortably in the area. We used monthly homeowner costs to measure cost of living. Areas with high median incomes and low cost of living scored higher.

3. Is the area growing? We measured population growth to ensure that the area is attracting new residents and showing signs of solid growth. This is likely a signal of a robust local economy, which is another attractive characteristic for homebuyers.

For more details on our methodology, please see the section at the end of the report.

For a full ranking of all 82 cities analyzed in Kentucky for this study and to download the raw data, click here.

1. Hillview

Located just 16 miles south of Louisville on Interstate 65, Hillview has a median home value of $120,500 and its population grew by 9.6% between 2010 and 2012. For first-time homebuyers in the area, the Louisville Down Payment Assistance Program offers mortgage assistance. Residents here commute to work in nearby Louisville, which is home to Humana, one of country’s biggest health insurance companies.

2. Francisville

Francisville is about 17 miles from Cincinnati, on the other side of the Ohio River, in Northern Kentucky. Francisville boasts a homeownership rate of 85.5%, according to data crunched by NerdWallet. Francisville, just like Hillview, has experienced strong population growth of 13% from 2010 to 2012.

3. Cold Spring

This area, about 8 miles south of Cincinnati, boasts an 84% homeownership rate, and monthly homeowner costs are just 23.8% of the median household income. Cold Spring residents enjoy nearby Coney Island, a popular amusement park on the Ohio River.

4. Union

Union, another Cincinnati suburb, has a homeownership rate of 89.9%. Union’s town plan emphasizes single-family homes, and as a result, the city has grown into the second-largest city in Boone County.

5. Independence

Independence is 13 miles south of Cincinnati. From 2010 to 2012, the population of Independence grew by 7%. The town, where the median home value is $161,500, has six parks with space for a variety of recreational and sporting activities.

6. Hebron

In this Cincinnati suburb, monthly homeownership costs take up just 20.6% of a household’s monthly budget, which is the lowest on our top 20 list. Hebron is near the Cincinnati /Northern Kentucky International Airport and home to an Amazon.com fulfillment center, which is one of the largest employers in the area.

7. Buckner

Buckner, about 21 miles northeast of Louisville, has a homeownership rate of 91.7%, which is the highest percentage on our top 20 list. Job opportunities abound in the region, particularly in Louisville, home of the University of Louisville and a thriving downtown medical research campus.

8. Alexandria

In Alexandria, residents spend 23.1% of their monthly household income on housing costs. Alexandria is about 13 miles south of Cincinnati, and it hosts the long-running Alexandria Fair, which was first held in 1856.

9. Oakbrook

Oakbrook is the seventh Cincinnati suburb on our list. In this Northern Kentucky hamlet, the median monthly household income is $6,303. Oakbrook is in Boone County, which features two popular golf courses: Boone Links and Lassing Pointe.

10. Burlington

Burlington, the county seat of Boone County, also is a Cincinnati suburb. Homeowners pay 23.2% of their monthly household income on housing costs. The city hosts the Burlington Antique Show, which is regarded as one of the premier antiques events in the South.

 

Rank City Nearest Big City Home Ownership Rate Median Selected Monthly Homeowner Costs Median Monthly Household Income Homeowner Costs as a Percentage of Household Income Median Home Values 2010-2012 Population Growth Overall Score for Home Owners
1 Hillview Louisville 77.00% $1,141 $4,295 26.60% $120,500 9.6% 84.6
2 Francisville Cincinnati 85.50% $1,919 $9,014 21.30% $259,800 13.0% 84.1
3 Cold Spring Cincinnati 84.00% $1,246 $5,242 23.80% $168,800 6.7% 81.3
4 Union Cincinnati 89.90% $1,784 $8,422 21.20% $227,500 6.8% 80.4
5 Independence Cincinnati 80.20% $1,419 $5,517 25.70% $161,500 7.0% 80.1
6 Hebron Cincinnati 87.10% $1,285 $6,252 20.60% $148,200 1.4% 78.6
7 Buckner Louisville 91.70% $1,993 $9,469 21.00% $308,400 8.6% 77.8
8 Alexandria Cincinnati 86.80% $1,431 $6,189 23.10% $165,200 1.4% 76.3
9 Oakbrook Cincinnati 90.60% $1,367 $6,303 21.70% $176,500 -0.3% 75.4
10 Burlington Cincinnati 75.50% $1,331 $5,744 23.20% $166,400 3.8% 75
11 Lawrenceburg Lexington 65.40% $1,062 $4,031 26.30% $120,300 4.9% 74.7
12 Mount Washington Louisville 83.70% $1,245 $4,535 27.50% $152,300 1.5% 74.5
13 Edgewood Cincinnati 89.80% $1,531 $7,129 21.50% $199,400 -0.5% 73.3
14 Erlanger Cincinnati 71.60% $1,257 $4,886 25.70% $126,300 1.6% 72.7
15 Bardstown Louisville 57.10% $912 $2,780 32.80% $97,400 6.4% 72.7
16 Villa Hills Cincinnati 89.10% $1,535 $7,279 21.10% $193,300 -2.0% 71.9
17 Central City Madisonville 68.2% $838 $3,157 26.5% $80,000 -0.5% 71.8
18 Shepherdsville Louisville 63.3% $1,043 $3,687 28.3% $119,800 3.7% 71.7
19 Elsmere Cincinnati 74.6% $1,153 $3,614 31.9% $106,900 0.2% 71.2
20 Middletown Louisville 75.8% $1,414 $5,310 26.6% $196,200 3.0% 70.8

To view and download the full ranking of all 82 cities, click here.

Methodology

The overall score for each city was derived from each of these measures:

1. Homeownership rate made up 33.3% of the total score. A higher rate earned a higher score. The rate comes from the U.S. Census American Community Survey 5-year Estimates for all places in the state, Table DP 04.

2. Selected monthly owner costs as a percentage of median household income made up 16.7% of the total score. A lower percentage earned a higher score. Monthly homeowner costs as a percentage of median household income made up one-half of the affordability score. Median household income comes from the U.S. Census American Community Survey 5-year Estimates for all places in the state, Table DP 03. The figure for monthly homeowner costs comes from the U.S. Census American Community Survey 5-year Estimates for all places in the state, Table DP 04.

3. Median home value made up 16.7% of the total score. A lower value earned a higher score. Median home value made up one-half of the affordability score. Median home value comes from the U.S. Census American Community Survey 5-year Estimates for all places in the state, Table DP 04.

4. Population change from 2010 to 2012 made up 33.3% of the total score. A higher percent change earned a higher score. The 2010 population comes from the 2010 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates for all places in the state, Table DP 05. The 2012 population data comes from the 2012 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates for all places in the state, Table DP 05. NerdWallet calculated the percent change.

Only places with 5,000 or more residents were included in the study. Places with higher than average crime were excluded from the top 20 list.

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