The median household income in the United States is $59,039, and the median home value is $206,300 — according to the U.S. Census Bureau and Zillow, respectively — but you don't have to earn or spend that much to achieve the dream of homeownership. Unfortunately, thoughts born out of desperation such as "What house can I afford?" and "Can I get a mortgage on my income?" cause people across the country to continue renting even though homeownership is within reach — if you know where to buy cheap houses, that is.
GOBankingRates compared median household income with median home values and sale prices to determine which cities still have affordable housing markets. Keep reading to find out where homeownership is still within reach for typical Americans.
Here's a look at some of the most affordable regions for prospective homeowners.
The median home value in Bakersfield is $221,300, but a few years from now, that might look like the bargain of a lifetime. Bakersfield.com recently reported that unsold inventory is disappearing and the housing market is heating up. According to Forbes, Bakersfield is one of the best entry points into California's notoriously cost-prohibitive housing market. That's because the recession hit harder there than it did other places, so prices are still artificially low.
Boise Metropolitan Region, Idaho
The housing market in Boise is so red hot that the median home value there is now $231,100. In fact, prices are rising so quickly that Zillow has classified Boise as purely a seller's market. But the market in the larger metro area, where the median value is still $208,300, is much cooler — for now. Home values are steadily rising in the metro area, which means you could get in just as the upward trend in Boise, which Forbes recently ranked among the top 20 best cities for young professionals, spreads outward and sends home values soaring in the suburbs.
According to Forbes, Cleveland is a city on the rise thanks to a cost of living that's 30 to 60 percent lower than in Silicon Valley or in cities like New York and Boston. The city is home to more than 180 high-tech and health-tech companies, and major venture capital dollars are flooding into fuel startups. Median household income is still just a paltry $26,583, but it could be a great time to get into the housing market, considering the median home value is just $61,200 currently but is expected to rise.
El Paso, Texas
The median sale price of a home listed in El Paso is a relatively cheap $168,000, but don't give up if even that's above your price range. The median home value there is just $115,400, which means sellers might be asking too much in a city with a median household income of $43,322. "The economy of the El Paso, Texas housing market area has been growing every year since 2010 — the longest growth streak in the area since the 1990s," according to huduser.gov.
The median home value in Fargo is $218,200, which is above the national median of $206,300 — but the city still might be affordable to most prospective buyers. Fargo's cooling housing market is giving buyers more selection and more time to weigh their options, according to a report from a local NBC affiliate. The city's median household income is $48,060.
Iowa City, Iowa
The $205,600 median home value in Iowa City might feel too steep to be considered a value, but with a median household income of just $42,720, you certainly don't have to be wealthy to own a home. For those who buy houses in the area, it's likely that home values will respond positively in the near future thanks to the massive investment in development happening currently in the Riverfront Crossings District.
Considering the low median household income in Longview of $38,793, it's difficult to understand how residents there can afford the median listing price of $229,000. The truth is, homes there are probably selling for quite a bit less. The median home value in Longview is not anywhere near $230,000 — in fact, it's just $170,400. And it might just be a great time to get in if you can swing a mortgage around that price point. Heavy hitters in the Northwest gas industry have been eyeing the city for years, and now, city officials are considering plans to build a $1 billion gas-to-fertilizer plant there, which could bring more jobs to the area.
With a median home value of $267,900, Marietta isn't exactly cheap, but the city's $48,154 median household income proves it's not a town that's out of reach for regular people looking for cheap houses — and now might be a good time to buy. The median listing price is a whopping $350,000, but the median selling price is nearly $100,000 less. That means homes there seem to be listed for much more than buyers will ever pay — so it pays to negotiate the home sale price. More than 5,300 businesses employ upwards of 63,000 people there so work is within reach, too.
While much of West Virginia is in an economic slump, the Martinsburg area is booming. In 2017, the Martinsburg Journal News quoted a local economic expert as saying, "In every economic statistic, the Eastern Panhandle is the strongest region in West Virginia, and it continues to grow." The cost of living there is low, the quality of life is high and even with the economic upswing, the median home for sale is listed for less than $176,000, which could be in reach even considering the town's low $36,976 median household income.
The median listing price for a home for sale in Ogden is less than $190,000, which is affordable in a city with a median household income of $42,482. According to a recent CNBC report, Ogden has been on a mission to boost both resident incomes and the city's tax base since Utah hosted the Olympics in 2002 — and that quest has been largely successful on all fronts.
Oklahoma City, Okla.
Oklahoma City's economy is on the move, according to Forbes, thanks to its proximity to good colleges and universities, massive energy reserves, a wealth of military bases, other government employers and one of the biggest livestock markets in the world. But housing prices haven't yet caught up to the boom — the market is still neutral and the median home value there is just $132,500, which is well below the national median.
Pensacola is a booming city. It's in the top fifth of the country as far as metro population growth and, according to the Pensacola News Journal, a job boom has arrived to sustain the population boom. You can still get a home there, however, without breaking the bank. With a median home value of $137,500, the city is well below the national median.
Port Huron, Mich.
The median household income in Port Huron is a low $34,592 — but it's also a city where a five-digit home is still within reach. In fact, the median listing price of homes for sale in Port Huron is just $85,000. Home prices there are expected to rise, and St. Clair community college is investing millions in the town's redevelopment.
A recent job boom coupled with a housing shortage has put a crunch on the city of Sheboygan, which has a median household income of $44,406. The county employs 60,000 workers and has enough housing for just 47,347. You might think that fact would send home prices soaring, but the median listing price on homes for sale in Sheboygan is a modest $127,500.
The median household income in Wilkes-Barre is just $31,248. That's much lower than the median household income in the larger United States, which is now over $59,000. But houses there are cheap — very cheap. The median home value in Wilkes-Barre is just $51,200 — that's less than a quarter of the $206,300 median home value in the United States. The city has the fourth-largest workforce in Pennsylvania and has welcomed more than 60 new businesses in the last few years.