Now that rent costs an average of $1,700 per month in the U.S., according to Zillow’s estimate, you may as well look into owning a house. In certain cities, your monthly mortgage payment might be half of the median rent price in the U.S. — or even less — which means homeownership could be well within reach.
GOBankingRates revisited data from a previous study on the best suburbs in every state and found 17 great suburbs where your mortgage will typically cost less than $1,000 per month. This study ranks the suburbs from the highest monthly mortgage payment to the lowest, and also takes several other important factors into account:
- Safety. GOBankingRates analyzed each suburb’s property and violent crime rates per 1,000 residents, sourced from Neighborhood Scout.
- Cost of living. The cost of nonhousing necessities, such as groceries, healthcare, transportation and utilities, were sourced from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and adjusted to each suburb’s local cost of living via Sperling’s Best Places.
- Quality of schools. The study examined Niche’s overall grades for the school districts belonging to each suburb.
If you can save up enough for a down payment, it’s worth shopping around for a cheaper mortgage so that you can build equity in a home instead of spending your money on astronomical rents. Limiting your housing budget to $1,000 per month or less may help your family and finances thrive in these top suburbs.
Last updated: Oct. 30, 2019
17. Plum, Pennsylvania
- Metro area: Pittsburgh
- Monthly mortgage payment: $997
Why Plum Is a Great Place To Live
Plum, Pennsylvania, is prime for a range of outdoor activities, such as boating, fishing, hiking and skiing. It’s also home to the Oakmont Country Club, a famous golf course which has hosted the U.S. Open nine times. Additionally, residents of Plum encounter the lowest property crime rate among all the cities on GOBankingRates’ list, at only 4.55 property crimes per 1,000 people. They pay $17,047.66 annually for nonhousing necessities, which is the fourth-cheapest total in this study.
16. La Vergne, Tennessee
- Metro area: Nashville
- Monthly mortgage payment: $951
Why La Vergne Is a Great Place To Live
La Vergne, Tennessee, is a suburb of Nashville, aka the country music capital of the world. Its convenient location next to the 14,000-acre Percy Priest Lake allows residents to enjoy plenty of outdoor recreation, including boating, fishing and more. The median home list price in La Vergne is $209,900, which is far below the median list price for the country as a whole: $289,000, according to Zillow.
15. Altamonte Springs, Florida
- Metro area: Orlando
- Monthly mortgage payment: $940
Why Altamonte Springs Is a Great Place To Live
Thanks to the new Westmonte Recreation Center, programs for the senior community in Altamonte Springs, Florida, are particularly robust. Additionally, residents of all ages can plan an adventurous day trip to Walt Disney World in nearby Orlando. If you’re intrigued by life in Altamonte Springs, the suburb offers homes with a median list price just below $200,000.
14. Lexington, South Carolina
- Metro area: Columbia
- Monthly mortgage payment: $932
Why Lexington Is a Great Place To Live
People in Lexington, South Carolina, enjoy a county property tax rate of 0.541%. It’s the third-lowest rate among the best suburbs with mortgages under $1,000 per month, which makes homeownership in the Columbia suburb even more appealing. Lexington is also minutes away from the Riverbanks Zoo & Garden, a nationally renowned zoo and botanical garden.
13. Mayfield Heights, Ohio
- Metro area: Cleveland
- Monthly mortgage payment: $917
Why Mayfield Heights Is a Great Place To Live
The Mayfield City School District in Mayfield Heights, Ohio, was awarded a stellar A-plus overall grade from Niche. In addition to offering quality schools, Mayfield Heights is considered relatively safe. It boasts the lowest violent crime rate among all the suburbs on GOBankingRates’ list, at 0.7 violent crimes per 1,000 residents, as well as the fourth-lowest property crime rate. On top of all that, residents can save on nonhousing necessities, spending only $16,512.82 per year — the cheapest total cost on the list.
12. Fairfield, Ohio
- Metro area: Cincinnati
- Monthly mortgage payment: $876
Why Fairfield Is a Great Place To Live
In addition to their affordable mortgages, residents of Fairfield, Ohio, can save on necessities like groceries, healthcare, transportation and utilities. They typically spend a total of $16,787.39 per year on those nonhousing necessities, which is the second-cheapest total cost in this study. The Fairfield School District also received a phenomenal A-plus grade from Niche, which means the Cincinnati suburb is especially ideal for families with young children.
11. Maryland Heights, Missouri
- Metro area: St. Louis
- Monthly mortgage payment: $840
Pictured: St. Louis
Why Maryland Heights Is a Great Place To Live
If you’re heavily invested in your children’s education, it might be smart to look into buying a home in Maryland Heights, Missouri. The Parkway School District and the Pattonville R-III School District received A-plus grades from Niche — two of only four school districts in GOBankingRates’ study to earn this distinction. Additionally, the median home list price in Maryland Heights is only $165,000, which is well below the national average.
10. Cabot, Arkansas
- Metro area: Little Rock
- Monthly mortgage payment: $805
Why Cabot Is a Great Place To Live
Residents of Cabot, Arkansas, spend an average of $17,541.04 per year on nonhousing necessities like groceries, healthcare, transportation and utilities, which is the fifth-cheapest total among all the top suburbs with mortgages under $1,000 per month. Additionally, the Cabot School District earned a respectable A-minus grade from Niche, so parents can rest easy knowing that their children will receive a solid education in the Little Rock suburb.
9. Claremore, Oklahoma
- Metro area: Tulsa
- Monthly mortgage payment: $799
Why Claremore Is a Great Place To Live
Claremore, Oklahoma, is relatively safe: it has the fifth-lowest violent crime rate among all the places on GOBankingRates’ list, at 1.66 incidents per 1,000 residents. Amenities in this suburb of Tulsa include the 1,200-acre Claremore Lake Park and the 7,000-square-foot Claremore Community Skate Park, which was designed with the local skating community for enthusiasts of all skill levels.
8. Socorro, Texas
- Metro area: El Paso
- Monthly mortgage payment: $792
Why Socorro Is a Great Place To Live
Socorro, Texas, proves that you can find affordable housing in safe neighborhoods. The suburb boasts the second-cheapest median home list price in GOBankingRates’ study — only $137,925 — as well as relatively low violent and property crime rates. Socorro experiences 1.56 violent crimes and 10.4 property crimes per 1,000 residents, which are the fourth- and fifth-lowest crime rates in their respective categories.
Pictured: El Paso, Texas
7. Lebanon, Indiana
- Metro area: Indianapolis
- Monthly mortgage payment: $791
Why Lebanon Is a Great Place To Live
Among the best suburbs with affordable mortgages, Lebanon, Indiana, is tied for the third-cheapest total cost of nonhousing necessities like groceries, healthcare, transportation and utilities, at $16,974.57 per year. Additionally, the Indianapolis suburb witnesses 0.88 violent crimes and 6.58 property crimes per 1,000 residents, translating to the third- and second-lowest crime rates in their respective categories. As a result, Lebanon is a good choice for Americans seeking a safe, wallet-friendly neighborhood to call home.
6. El Reno, Oklahoma
- Metro area: Oklahoma City
- Monthly mortgage payment: $672
Why El Reno Is a Great Place To Live
Even though all the suburbs on GOBankingRates’ list offer mortgages under $1,000 per month, El Reno, Oklahoma, is particularly affordable when it comes to housing. The median home list price in the Oklahoma City suburb is only $139,900, which is the fourth-cheapest home list price in this study. For context, that’s nearly $150,000 below the national median — meaning you could buy two houses in El Reno for the price of an average home in the U.S.
5. Millbrook, Alabama
- Metro area: Montgomery
- Monthly mortgage payment: $665
Why Millbrook Is a Great Place To Live
If the climate is an important consideration in your search for a future home, Millbrook, Alabama, might be worthy of a second look. Residents of the Montgomery suburb typically experience warm, long summers and relatively mild, short winters. As a bonus, the county property tax rate in Millbrook is only 0.298%, which is the lowest tax rate among all the top suburbs in GOBankingRates’ study.
4. New Haven, Indiana
- Metro area: Fort Wayne
- Monthly mortgage payment: $662
Pictured: Fort Wayne, Indiana
Why New Haven Is a Great Place To Live
The overall cost of living in New Haven, Indiana, is very manageable for residents. The Fort Wayne suburb offers the third-lowest median home list price in this study — only $139,900, which is less than half of the average home list price in the U.S. At $16,974.57 per year, New Haven is also tied for the third-cheapest total cost of necessities like groceries, healthcare, transportation and utilities.
3. Pearl, Mississippi
- Metro area: Jackson
- Monthly mortgage payment: $658
Why Pearl Is a Great Place To Live
Prospective residents of Pearl, Mississippi, can expect to encounter a median home list price of $146,650 — the fifth-cheapest list price in this study — and a county property tax rate of 0.641%, which is the fourth-lowest tax rate. On top of inexpensive housing, the Jackson suburb witnesses the second-lowest violent crime rate and the third-lowest property crime rate among all the top suburbs with affordable mortgages, at 0.75 violent crimes and 7.88 property crimes per 1,000 residents.
2. Baker, Louisiana
- Metro area: Baton Rouge
- Monthly mortgage payment: $647
Why Baker Is a Great Place To Live
Homeowners in Baker, Louisiana, pay a county property tax rate of 0.536% — the second-lowest tax rate on GOBankingRates’ list. The Baton Rouge suburb also offers plenty of amenities and activities for its residents, from golf courses and neighborhood parks to the Baker Heritage Museum and annual Baker Buffalo Festival. The outdoors are easily accessible in the form of forests, rivers and wetlands only a few minutes away from Baker.
Pictured: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
1. Elsmere, Delaware
- Metro area: Wilmington
- Monthly mortgage payment: $570
Why Elsmere Is a Great Place To Live
Elsmere, Delaware, earns its spot at the top of this ranking because its homes are extraordinarily affordable. The Wilmington suburb boasts a median home list price of $124,950, which is the lowest list price on GOBankingRates’ list. Additionally, homeowners pay the fifth-lowest county property tax rate — 0.666% — among the best suburbs with cheap mortgages. As a result, residents can enjoy Elsmere’s close proximity to the University of Delaware campus and other amenities without paying an arm and a leg for housing.
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Methodology: GOBankingRates determined the best suburbs with mortgages under $1,000 per month by sourcing a previous GOBankingRates study, “Every State’s Best Suburb,” which contained 95 suburbs across all 50 U.S. states. This list of 95 suburbs was evaluated in terms of the following factors: (1) property and violent crime rates per 1,000 residents, sourced from Neighborhood Scout; (2) median list price for a home, sourced from Zillow’s August 2019 index; (3) monthly mortgage payment, based on a 30-year fixed mortgage rate of 3.64% (according to Freddie Mac as of Sept. 26, 2019), a 20% down payment and local county effective property tax rates; (4) nonhousing cost of living for necessities like utilities, transportation, groceries and healthcare, based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Expenditure Survey, adjusted to each city’s local cost of living via Sperling’s Best Places; and (5) school district score, based on the average grade of school districts covering the city, sourced from Niche. All data used to conduct this study was compiled on Sept. 30, 2019.
About the Author
Grace joined the GOBankingRates team in 2017 with an editorial background in print journalism and magazines. Prior to editing and writing for GOBankingRates, Grace pitched books and movies from Renaissance Literary & Talent, a literary agency and management firm representing clients such as the estate of Audrey Hepburn, Kirk Douglas, Goldie Hawn and Heidi Murkoff of the “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” series.