15 Cities Where You Don’t Have To Be a Millionaire To Afford a Home

These housing markets make it possible for normal people with normal budgets to buy a home.
Updated July 13, 2023
A couple holding house keys

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When it comes to house shopping, it feels like it’s a trust fund baby’s market.

Last month in San Francisco, the median home sold for $1.3M. And in Portland, Oregon, the average home went for over half a million with the median price at $517K.

If you’ve been doggedly saving your money, dreaming of the day you can afford a home, you may be disappointed at the prices you’re seeing around the country.

Fortunately, there are a few housing markets where you can still afford a mortgage for a home bigger than a shoebox and keep more money in your bank account.

15. Chattanooga, Tennessee

Kevin Ruck/Adobe Chattanooga Tennessee skyline

Median home price: $319,900

Nestled in the Appalachians along the Tennessee River, Chattanooga is an urbanite and outdoor lover’s paradise.

The city boasts bass fishing, hang gliding, mountain climbing, and a 16-mile Riverwalk that winds along the waterfront and through downtown.

You can enjoy the downtown’s free electric shuttle, visit the eclectic Bluff Art District, and explore the burgeoning tech hub that’s home to start-ups like Branch Technology and Bellhop.

14. McAllen, Texas

JACoulter/Adobe Church Bell Tower with cross in McAllen Texas

Median home price: $295,000

McAllen is a border town, offering old-world charm and new-world amenities.

It’s known for its Spanish Revival architecture, art galleries, International Museum of Arts & Science, Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge, and Rio Grande Valley — a major bird migration corridor.

Visitors of all ages will enjoy the nation’s largest single-floor public library (with an art gallery, cafes, and children’s play area), and kayaking on Town Lake at Fireman Park.

13. Little Rock, Arkansas

Christopher Boswell/Adobe A photo of Little Rock, Arkansas

Median home price: $228,000

Little Rock is known for its ties to Bill Clinton (his namesake library and museum are housed here) and is home to the Little Rock Nine who integrated the Little Rock Central High School. As such, the city has many historical buildings and national landmarks.

Residents can also take in the vibrant Little Rock River Market (full of shops, art, and restaurants) and a diverse wilderness with woods, lakes, rivers, mountains, and the Pinnacle Mountain State Park.

12. Wichita, Kansas

Joe Montiel/Adobe Keeper of the Plains Sunrise

Median home price: $200,000

There’s a lot to love about life on the Arkansas River in Wichita. Known as the Air Capital of the World, Wichita is a leading producer of airforce technology.

The city is home to McConnell Air Force Base and an ingenuity hub for Learjet (Bombardier), Spirit Aerosystems, and Beechcraft.

Wichita is also the birthplace of Pizza Hut, the hometown of Dennis the Menace, and houses plenty of scenic, cultural, and historic sites.

These include an amazing zoo (one of the largest in the nation), Great Plains Nature Center, Wichita State University, and the urbane Old Town Square filled with theaters, galleries, restaurants, and shops.

11. Topeka, Kansas

Reagan/Adobe Topeka Kansas Capital aerial

Median home price: $190,000

Sun-dappled Topeka Kansas is often called the “Golden City.” In addition to its amber hues, it’s known for its role in Civil Rights (Brown vs Board of Education), historical sites, the Evel Knievel Museum, and a world-class zoo.

Additionally, locals and tourists alike love Topeka’s Lake Shawnee for paddling, yachting, fishing, camping, hiking, and golfing.

10. Memphis, Tennessee

Kevin Ruck/Adobe aerial view memphis skyline

Median home price: $189,900

Memphis is full of bluesy, Southern charm and modern bustle. The city houses Graceland, Beale Street, and Sun Studio where Johnny Cash, B.B. King, and Elvis Presley all recorded albums.

In addition to enjoying a fantastic plate of BBQ and world-class blues music, you can stroll the walking paths that dot the Mississippi River, visit the National Civil Rights Museum, or catch a Memphis Grizzlies game.

9. Charleston, West Virginia

Andriy Blokhin/Adobe Allegheny mountains

Median home price: $181,000

Charleston, West Virginia boasts loads of rugged as well as sophisticated charm. Nestled in the Allegheny Mountains, locals love the forests, nature trails, and outdoor parks.

The city also boasts a gold-gilded state capitol, a world-class orchestra, and the renowned Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences.

8. Milwaukee, Wisconsin

skostep/Adobe Milwaukee Wisconsin

Median home price: $174,900

Situated on Lake Michigan only 93 miles from Chicago, Milwaukee offers affordable, urban, waterfront living.

The city’s roots in brewing are evident everywhere: Pabst Theatre, Milwaukee Brewing, new lakefront breweries, and the Brewers baseball team.

Residents and visitors can enjoy the local sites and cafes on the RiverWalk, Brady Street, and Historic Third Ward.

You can also grab a drink at the Great Lakes Distillery, take in the lakefront science museum, or visit the motorcycle mecca Harley Davidson Museum.

7. Seneca Falls, New York

alpegor/Adobe deserted pier

Median home price: $172,500

The birthplace of the women’s rights movement, Seneca Falls, New York will captivate outdoor nomads and history buffs alike.

The city is nestled among the Finger, Cayuga, and Seneca Lakes, hiking trails, a state park, and a national wildlife refuge. Locals also enjoy unwinding at the Montezuma Winery.

Only 47 miles from Syracuse, Seneca Falls is also within easy reach of big-city amenities like the Syracuse-Hancock International Airport.

6. Erie, Pennsylvania

SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe Erie, Pennsylvania

Median home price: $160,000

Erie is mainly known for its world-famous canal, but the city is a major cultural and educational center. It’s home to Penn State, Mercyhurst College, and Gannon University.

On Lake Erie, the city showcases plenty of maritime-themed museums, sites, and water excursions and also has a thriving microbrewery scene.

5. Rochester, New York

Jeremy Francis/Adobe High Falls district in Rochester New York

Median home price: $149,900

As New York’s third most populous city, Rochester is steeped in history, idyllic scenery, and lots of local culture.

Rochester was known as the Flour City during the 19th century, and today many call it that for its lush flower gardens, Flower City Days, and Lilac Festival.

Rochester is also the birthplace of Kodak film, home to the University of Rochester and Rochester Institute of Technology, and hosts one of the world’s leading jazz festivals.

4. Syracuse, New York

littleny/Adobe Syracuse New York buildings

Median home price: $139,900

If you can winter the city’s snowy reputation, you’ll love Syracuse. It’s a major educational, artistic, and cultural hub, with plenty of idyllic scenery.

Local highlights include Syracuse University, a thriving Little Italy (the city has major Italian roots), the annual Shakespeare festival, and the many parks and trails lining the Erie Canal.

3. Springfield, Illinois

mandritoiu/Adobe A photo of Springfield, Illinois

Median home price: $127,900

Springfield, Illinois is known for being Abe Lincoln’s birthplace and giving Barack Obama his political liftoff.

Beyond these popular figures, Springfield is known for its historical landmarks and cultural centers like the Illinois State Museum and Washington Park Botanical Museum. It's also close to Chicago — just a short car trip (220 miles) away.

2. Youngstown, Ohio

SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe Youngstown Ohio USA town skyline

Median home price: $103,000

Just a short drive (76 miles) from Lake Erie, Youngstown offers both scenic and urban charm.

The city’s Mill Creeks Metro Park has over 5,000 acres of lakes, hiking trails, bike trails, golf courses, and historical sites.

Youngstown also has a local opera and orchestra, a planetarium, and a thriving local arts and music scene.

1. Toledo, Ohio

SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe Toledo Ohio

Median home price: $99,900

No longer a big steel city, Toledo holds lots of other charms. For starters, it’s home to the renowned Toledo Museum of Art and the National Museum of the Great Lakes.

And for water lovers, the city is within 230 miles of Lakes Michigan, Huron, and Erie.

Toledo is also known as The Glass City, with Owens Corning, Owens Williams, and Libbey a few of the many glass companies centered here. Jeep headquarters are also located nearby.

Bottom line

fizkes/Adobe young couple moving into new apartment

While the housing market is still rife with high prices, there are still affordable pockets that boast great outdoor living, cultural amenities, and local jobs.

And if you do work remotely and can choose where to live, why not eliminate some money stress and pick a city where you can afford your dream house and furnish it too?

Author Details

Stacy Garrels Stacy enjoys writing about fintech, consumer deals, the side hustle economy, and random tomfoolery. She's personally tried more than 100 different gigs, including being an Uber driver for one afternoon.