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The 10 Cheapest, Safest Places to Buy a Home in the Pandemic

Jeff Manes / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Jeff Manes / Getty Images/iStockphoto

COVID-19  has hit America hard. Since Jan. 21, 2020, more than 14 million cases have been reported in the United States, with over 275,000 resulting in death. Not surprisingly, cases have been concentrated in urban areas, as large populations living in close proximity make it easier for the virus to spread.

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Against this backdrop of growing coronavirus cases, mortgage interest rates have dropped sharply. The combination of affordable mortgages and the fear of rising virus counts in cities has led to something of a housing boom in suburbs, resort towns and rural areas.

To help locate affordable areas outside of coronavirus hotspots, GOBankingRates sourced data from the 2019 American Community Survey, as conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. The goal was to find the cheapest, safest places to live during the pandemic by identifying counties with both few coronavirus cases and affordable home prices. Only counties with at least 70,000 residents were considered.

If you live in a high-case area, scan the following list to see if any of these 10 counties appeal to you. You might find that moving out of the city can benefit both your health and your bank account, particularly if you live in one of the hardest-hit cities that have above-average rents.

Last updated: Dec. 7, 2020

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Grafton County, New Hampshire

  • Population: 89,886
  • Total coronavirus cases: 543
  • Cases per 100,000 people: 604
  • Total deaths: 2
  • Deaths per 100,000 people: 2
  • Home value (October 2020): $253,833
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Cheshire County, New Hampshire

  • Population: 76,085
  • Total coronavirus cases: 559
  • Cases per 100,000 people: 735
  • Total deaths: 3
  • Deaths per 100,000 people: 4
  • Home value (October 2020): $223,413
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Kennebec County, Maine

  • Population: 122,302
  • Total coronavirus cases: 818
  • Cases per 100,000 people: 669
  • Total deaths: 17
  • Deaths per 100,000 people: 14
  • Home value (October 2020): $193,765
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Cayuga County, New York

  • Population: 76,576
  • Total coronavirus cases: 890
  • Cases per 100,000 people: 1,162
  • Total deaths: 8
  • Deaths per 100,000 people: 10
  • Home value (October 2020): $138,810
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Oswego County, New York

  • Population: 117,124
  • Total coronavirus cases: 1,625
  • Cases per 100,000 people: 1,387
  • Total deaths: 8
  • Deaths per 100,000 people: 7
  • Home value (October 2020): $113,970

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Chautauqua County, New York

  • Population: 126,903
  • Total coronavirus cases: 1,580
  • Cases per 100,000 people: 1,245
  • Total deaths: 8
  • Deaths per 100,000 people: 6
  • Home value (October 2020): $111,213
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Penobscot County, Maine

  • Population: 152,148
  • Total coronavirus cases: 909
  • Cases per 100,000 people: 597
  • Total deaths: 12
  • Deaths per 100,000 people: 8
  • Home value (October 2020): $164,386

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Clinton County, New York

  • Population: 80,485
  • Total coronavirus cases: 461
  • Cases per 100,000 people: 573
  • Total deaths: 5
  • Deaths per 100,000 people: 6
  • Home value (October 2020): $151,355
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Jefferson County, New York

  • Population: 109,834
  • Total coronavirus cases: 566
  • Cases per 100,000 people: 515
  • Total deaths: 3
  • Deaths per 100,000 people: 3
  • Home value (October 2020): $144,460
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St. Lawrence County, New York

  • Population: 107,740
  • Total coronavirus cases: 850
  • Cases per 100,000 people: 789
  • Total deaths: 11
  • Deaths per 100,000 people: 10
  • Home value (October 2020): $81,443

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Cynthia Measom contributed to the reporting for this article. 

Methodology: In order to discover the 50 cheapest, safest places to buy a home in the pandemic, GOBankingRates looked at all US counties with a population over 70,000 as sourced from the 2019 American Community Survey conducted by the US Census Bureau. With these counties isolated, GOBankingRates looked at the New York Times COVID-19 Cases and Deaths by County tracker, and found the following factors: (1) total population of the county; (2) total cases of COVID-19 in the county; (3) COVID-19 cases per 100,000 county residents; (4) total deaths from COVID-19 in the county; and (5) deaths per 100,000 county residents. GOBankingRates then used Zillow data to find each county’s (6) October 2020 Single Family Residence home value. In order to determine rankings, GOBankingRates scored cities on factors (3), (4) and (5), with the lowest score being best. The 50 counties with the lowest overall score were included in the final rankings. All data was collected on and up to date as of noon on December 1, 2020.

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