How Much Will a $350,000 Mortgage Cost per Month?

Considering taking out a $350K mortgage to purchase a home? It’s important to understand the upfront cost associated with a mortgage and to factor the monthly payments associated with it into your budget.

So how much will a $350K mortgage cost per month? This will vary based on factors such as interest rate, the terms of the loan, and more.

Key Points

•   The monthly cost of a $350,000 mortgage depends on factors like interest rate, loan term, and down payment.

•   Using a mortgage calculator can help estimate monthly payments and determine affordability.

•   Factors like property taxes, homeowners insurance, and private mortgage insurance (PMI) can also affect the overall cost.

•   It’s important to consider your budget and financial goals when determining the affordability of a mortgage.

•   Working with a lender or mortgage professional can provide personalized guidance and help you understand the costs involved.

Total Cost of a $350K Mortgage

Monthly mortgage payments are a recurring expense homebuyers should include in their budget, but there are also some one-time and long-term costs they should keep in mind when determining how much home they can afford.

Upfront Costs

The largest upfront cost associated with a mortgage is likely the downpayment on the property. The median downpayment on a home is 13%, but if a buyer wants to avoid fees, including private mortgage insurance, they may have to put at least 20% down.

If a buyer puts 20% down and takes out a $350K mortgage, they’re likely putting down around $87,500.

On top of a down payment, buyers are expected to pay for some or all of the following before closing, including:

•   Abstract and recording fees: $200 to $1,200 and $125, on average, respectively

•   Application fees: up to $500

•   Appraisal fees: $300 to $400

•   Attorney fees: $150 to $400/hour

•   Home inspection fee: $300 to $500, on average

•   Title search and title insurance fees: $75 to $200

These may all be non-negotiable costs, but it’s also worth keeping in mind your wants for a new home, including furnishings and the cost for professional movers.


💡 Quick Tip: Buying a home shouldn’t be aggravating. SoFi’s online mortgage application is quick and simple, with dedicated Mortgage Loan Officers to guide you from start to finish.

Long-Term Costs

Payments on a $350K mortgage are due every month, but there are also long-term costs on the horizon for homeowners. It’s important to factor in the costs of maintenance and repair to a property over time.

In general, it’s good to follow the 1% savings rule. That means a homeowner should aim to set aside 1% of the home’s purchase price annually and earmark it for repairs or maintenance.

Saving this upfront can keep homeowners from dipping into emergency funds for repairing the HVAC or fixing a leaky roof.

First-time homebuyers can
prequalify for a SoFi mortgage loan,
with as little as 3% down.


Recommended: First-Time Homebuyer Guide

Estimated Monthly Payments on a $350K Mortgage

The cost of monthly payments on a $350K mortgage will come down to a few factors:

•   Downpayment: How much the buyer puts down initially

•   Loan term: Including the length of the loan (15- vs. 30-year) and the structure of the payoff schedule (fixed-rate or adjustable-rate mortgage)

•   APR: The annual percentage rate of the mortgage

Monthly Payment Breakdown by APR and Term

The APR a homebuyer gets when applying for a $350K mortgage will vary based on market rates as well as the borrower’s financial history.

APR and the mortgage term will impact the total mortgage paid each month. As you can see, the monthly payments for a 15-year loan can be much higher than the payments for a 30-year loan. Remember, though, that over its lifetime, the 30-year mortgage is typically more costly because interest costs are higher.

Interest rate

15-year term

30-year term

3% $2,417 $1,475
3.5% $2,502 $1,571
4% $2,588 $1,670
4.5% $2,677 $1,773
5% $2,767 $1,878
5.5% $2,860 $1,987
6% $2,953 $2,098
6.5% $3,049 $2,212
7% $3,146 $2,329

Keep in mind these estimates do not include insurance or property tax estimates, which may be rolled into monthly payments.

Consider using a mortgage calculator to determine monthly mortgage estimates based on APR and loan terms.

Recommended: The Cost of Living by State

How Much Interest Is Accrued on a $350K Mortgage?

The total interest a homeowner will accrue on a $350K mortgage depends on the interest rate and loan length. An owner will pay more in interest the higher the rate and the longer the loan length.

On a $350K mortgage at 4.5% interest and 30-year loan term, you would accrue around $288,423.49 in interest over the life of the loan. Borrow the same amount at the same rate for a 15-year loan term, and you would accrue $131,945.77 in interest.


💡 Quick Tip: To see a house in person, particularly in a tight or expensive market, you may need to show the real estate agent proof that you’re preapproved for a mortgage. SoFi’s online application makes the process simple.

$350K Mortgage Amortization Breakdown

Another helpful way to contextualize monthly payments on a $350K mortgage is through an amortization schedule, which breaks down payments by interest and principal.

For example, if a buyer secures a $350K mortgage with a 4.5% APR over a 15-year loan, their monthly payment will be roughly $2,677. With a longer loan term, an owner has lower monthly payments. However, it takes longer for a homeowner to pay down the principal, and over the life of the loan, the borrower with a 30-year term will pay more interest. Here’s an amortization scenario for a $350K mortgage with a 4.5% APR and a 30-year loan term, showing how the payment breaks down between interest and principal each year:

Year

Beginning balance

Interest paid

Principal paid

Ending balance

1 $350,000.00 $15,634.49 $5,646.31 $344,353.71
2 $344,353.71 $15,375.09 $5,905.71 $338,448.02
3 $338,448.02 $15,103.79 $6,177.01 $332,271.03
4 $332,271.03 $14,820.03 $6,460.77 $325,810.28
5 $325,810.28 $14,523.21 $6,757.59 $319,052.71
6 $319,052.71 $14,212.76 $7,068.04 $311,984.70
7 $311,984.70 $13,888.08 $7,392.72 $304,591.99
8 $304,591.99 $13,548.45 $7,732.35 $296,859.66
9 $296,859.66 $13,193.25 $8,087.55 $288,772.11
10 $288,772.11 $12,821.70 $8,459.10 $280,313.02
11 $280,313.02 $12,433.09 $8,847.71 $271,465.32
12 $271,465.32 $12,026.59 $9,254.21 $262,211.16
13 $262,211.16 $11,601.49 $9,679.31 $252,531.86
14 $252,531.86 $11,156.82 $10,123.98 $242,407.90
15 $242,407.90 $10,691.73 $10,589.07 $231,818.84
16 $231,818.84 $10,205.27 $11,075.53 $220,743.33
17 $220,743.33 $9,696.44 $11,584.36 $209,159.00
18 $209,159.00 $9,164.27 $12,116.53 $197,042.50
19 $197,042.50 $8,607.65 $12,673.15 $184,369.37
20 $184,369.37 $8,025.45 $13,255.35 $171,114.03
21 $171,114.03 $7,416.49 $13,864.31 $157,249.75
22 $157,249.75 $6,779.57 $14,501.23 $142,748.54
23 $142,748.54 $6,113.40 $15,167.40 $127,581.15
24 $127,581.15 $5,416.62 $15,864.18 $111,716.98
25 $111,716.98 $4,687.81 $16,592.99 $95,124.00
26 $95,124.00 $3,925.53 $17,355.27 $77,768.75
27 $77,768.75 $3,128.24 $18,152.56 $59,616.20
28 $59,616.20 $2,294.31 $18,986.49 $40,629.73
29 $40,629.73 $1,422.08 $19,858.72 $20,771.02
30 $20,771.02 $509.77 $20,771.03 $0.00

These monthly payments do not take into account additional costs, like taxes and insurance, that may be bundled into the monthly payment.

What Is Required to Get a $350K Mortgage?

The mortgage process can be confusing, but here are a few requirements to expect during the process:

•   Your credit score will impact your APR. Borrowers need a score of at least 500 for some mortgages, but most lenders require a score of 620 or more

•   Prequalification can be an important tool in the buying process. You will provide some basic information and the lender will do a soft credit inquiry. You’ll emerge with a sense of what rate the lender might offer.

•   Once you know how much money you need to borrow, getting preapproved for a mortgage is an important step. You’ll fill out a mortgage application and provide documents, such as proof of income, tax returns, and bank account statements. If you’re preapproved, you’ll receive a letter granting conditional approval to borrow the amount within a certain window, typically 60 to 90 days. SoFi’s Home Loan Help Center offers more information on this process.

How Much House Can You Afford Quiz

The Takeaway

A home is a serious purchase, and creating a budget beforehand is important. Understanding monthly payments on a $350K mortgage could help you determine if you can afford the home in the long run and help you budget for future expenses.

Factors like the loan length and APR will impact the monthly mortgage payment, and it’s worth considering different types of loans to determine which is the best fit for your finances.

Looking for an affordable option for a home mortgage loan? SoFi can help: We offer low down payments (as little as 3% - 5%*) with our competitive and flexible home mortgage loans. Plus, applying is extra convenient: It's online, with access to one-on-one help.


SoFi Mortgages: simple, smart, and so affordable.

FAQ

What’s the monthly payment on a $350,000 mortgage?

The monthly payment on a $350K mortgage could range from $1,500 to $3,200, depending on the loan’s interest rate and term. And that’s not including some fees that may be incorporated in the loan payment, such as insurance payments.

How much down payment do I need for $350,000 mortgage?

To make a 20% down payment on a property with a $350,000 mortgage, you would need $87,500. Many buyers make lower down payments, however. Some as low as 3%.

Can I afford a $350,000 mortgage on a $95,000 salary?

It would be difficult to cover the monthly payments for a $350,000 mortgage on a $95,000 salary — you would be better off borrowing less. Use an online mortgage calculator to zero in on the amount you can truly afford to comfortably borrow.


Photo credit: iStock/Joe Hendrickson

*SoFi requires Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) for conforming home loans with a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio greater than 80%. As little as 3% down payments are for qualifying first-time homebuyers only. 5% minimum applies to other borrowers. Other loan types may require different fees or insurance (e.g., VA funding fee, FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums, etc.). Loan requirements may vary depending on your down payment amount, and minimum down payment varies by loan type.

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


SoFi Mortgages
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. Not all products are available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.


Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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10 First-Time Homebuyer Mistakes to Avoid & 6 Smart Moves to Make

Buying a house for the first time is a major life moment, both emotionally and financially. For many people, it’s the biggest investment they will ever make. With the median price of a house hitting $436,800 in 2023 (ka-ching), it’s not a purchase to be made lightly.

If you’re buying your first home, you may expect it to be the same as those quick, fun-and-done experiences portrayed on reality TV shows. In truth, however, it’s a process with a steep learning curve and many moving parts, from figuring out your home-shopping budget to satisfying your final mortgage contingencies. There can be minor hiccups and major missteps along the way.

There are so many things to know as a first-time homebuyer, it’s better to educate yourself in advance rather than learn as you go. To that end, this guide will cover the 10 most common first-time homebuyer mistakes to avoid, including:

•   Not knowing how much house you can afford

•   Failing to include other factors, like insurance and repairs, in your budget

•   Waiving an inspection because you’ve found your dream house

10 Home-Buying Mistakes to Avoid

Home-buying mistakes are easy to make, especially when buying a house for the first time. Review these 10 common first-time homebuyer mistakes before searching for your dream home — so you can ensure you’ll avoid them.

First-time homebuyers can
prequalify for a SoFi mortgage loan,
with as little as 3% down.


1. Forgetting to Check Your Credit

When’s the last time you checked your credit? It’s absolutely crucial to know your credit score when buying a house.

Why? You may not qualify for a mortgage if your credit score is too low. For most types of mortgage loans, you’ll need a 620, though lenders also consider other factors, like your down payment and your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio. You’ll get better rates if you wait to apply for a mortgage until your score is 740 or above.

The lesson? Don’t let a low credit score rule out buying your first home, but if it’s on the lower side, maybe consider taking some time to build your credit score before shopping for a house.

Recommended: Tips for Buying a House With Bad Credit

2. Not Being Realistic About What You Can Afford

Before you start looking at listings online or working with a real estate agent — and certainly before you try to get preapproved for a mortgage — calculate how much house you can afford.

Once you know the number, avoid looking at houses above your limit.

So how do you calculate how much house you can afford? There are a few easy methods:

•   DTI: Think about your debt-to-income ratio (your debts divided by your gross income). When adding a monthly mortgage payment into your current DTI calculation, the percentage shouldn’t pass 43%. That’s typically the highest ratio mortgage lenders will accept.

•   28/36 rule: With this method, your max mortgage payment should be 28% of your gross income, and your total debts — mortgage and otherwise — should be no more than 36% of your gross income.

•   35/45 rule: Spend no more than 35% of your gross income on debt and no more than 45% of your after-tax income on debt.

•   25% after-tax rule: After adjusting for taxes, your mortgage should not account for more than 25% of your income.


💡 Quick Tip: You deserve a more zen mortgage. SoFi Mortgage Loan Officers are dedicated to closing your loan on time — backed by a $5,000 guarantee offer.‡

3. Putting Too Much or Too Little Down

In their eagerness to become homeowners, many first-time buyers make the mistake of going overboard and directing every bit of money they have to the purchase.

If you have to drain your emergency savings to manage the down payment on a home, you might want to dial down the amount or wait and save up a bit more. Consider what could happen if the home needs a costly repair or, worse, if you or someone in your family suddenly has an expensive medical bill. That’s a good example of when to use an emergency fund.

Conventional wisdom says to put 20% down (and it does help you to avoid paying private mortgage insurance (PMI). But with housing costs so high, that’s all but impossible for most homebuyers. Instead, focus on the minimum down payments required for the type of loan you’re considering:

•   Conventional loan: As low as 3%

•   FHA loan: As low as 3.5%

•   VA loan: As low as 0%

Remember, though, that if you put down very little, you’ll need to borrow more. Your monthly payments will be higher, and you could pay more interest over the life of the loan.

4. Forgetting About Homeowners Insurance and Property Taxes

Your monthly mortgage loan payment is more than just the cost of your home. You’ll also need to cover the cost of homeowners insurance and property taxes, which are often paid into an escrow account. Depending on the type of mortgage and how much you’ve paid, you may also have to pay for PMI. Together, these all increase your monthly payment — sometimes substantially. When you look at a home, the real estate agent should be able to show you property tax history so you can get an idea of what you’d pay each year. You can also work with an insurance agent to simulate insurance quotes for various homes you’re considering.

Property taxes will change from year to year, and you can always change your homeowners insurance to lower the cost, even if you pay for it through the escrow account. It may be a good idea to bundle home and auto policies together to take advantage of a discount.

Recommended: How Much Homeowners Insurance Do You Need?

5. Failing to Budget for Home Repairs and Maintenance

Forgetting to budget for homeowners insurance and property taxes is one of the most common first-time homebuyer mistakes — but those expenses aren’t the only ones people forget to budget for when buying a house for the first time.

If you’ve been accustomed to calling a landlord whenever something breaks in a rental, reset your expectations. Now, you’ll have to take care of basic home maintenance — like replacing air filters, cleaning the gutter, resealing wood decks, and cleaning the chimney — and repairs. When the air conditioner is blowing hot air, the oven stops working, or your roof starts leaking, you’re on the hook for the repairs.

Some issues may be covered by homeowners insurance (but there’s still a deductible!), but other issues caused by general wear and tear are solely your responsibility. And then there are other possible costs, like higher utility bills and homeowners association fees, that can eat into your budget.

6. Not Hiring a Qualified Home Inspector

It may be tempting to waive the home inspection when you’re trying to buy the home of your dreams — especially if you have some stiff competition to be the winning bidder for an in-demand property.

Sorry to say, this is a risky strategy. A home inspection might reveal critical information about the condition of a home and its systems, from electrical problems to hidden mold; from a failing septic system to a leaky roof. What you learn in an inspection could reveal that your dream home is actually a money pit.

What’s more, your inspection report might serve as a useful negotiating tool: You could use it to ask for repairs or to work out a better price from the seller. And if you really aren’t happy with the inspection results, you may be able to use it to cancel the offer to buy.

And in the grand scheme of things, an inspection isn’t too expensive. The average home inspection costs $300 to $500.

Recommended: The Ultimate Home Inspection Checklist

7. Overlooking the Neighborhood and Surrounding Area

You may have fallen in love with a specific home, but when you buy a house, you’re also buying the neighborhood that comes with it, so to speak.

How are the surrounding properties maintained? Do the people seem friendly? If you have kids or are planning on having them, do you see other families with young children? How are the schools in the area? What’s the traffic like? How’s the noise level? What restaurants and stores are nearby?

Think about your ideal community — and then try to find a dream home in that type of community.

8. Letting Your Emotions Get the Best of You

Buying your first home or any home thereafter can be a roller coaster, so it’s important to prepare yourself psychologically as well as financially. If you’ve ever talked to someone buying a house, you know there are potential pitfalls all through the purchasing process.

You might fall in love with the perfect house and find it’s way over your budget. You might get annoyed with the sellers or their real estate agent, especially during the negotiation process. You might disagree with your partner about priorities.

All of these scenarios can cause a person to behave emotionally. It might make you want to walk away from a great deal. It might lead you to barrel ahead with a purchase, even when warning lights are flashing.

Our advice to a first-time homebuyer? Recognizing that this will be a challenging and, at times, stressful process (especially because you are new to it), take a deep breath, and proceed calmly. Find tools that help you move ahead with patience and a sense of calm, best as you can. With your eye on the prize — namely, your first home — you’ll get there.

Recommended: Improving Your Relationship With Money

9. Not Considering Future Resale Value

Houses are more than a place to live — they’re an investment. While you certainly want to prioritize buying a home you’ll be happy in, it’s also a good idea to think about how much the property might be worth in five, 10, 15 years and beyond.

It’s impossible to predict the market, but you can feel more confident about strong future resale value by choosing a house with multiple bedrooms and bathrooms, a well-appointed kitchen, and a yard. Other features, like a finished basement or a garage, may also make it easier to sell the home in the future.

10. Not Having an Emergency Fund

One of the basic tenets of personal finance is building an emergency fund. And here’s some blunt advice for first-time homebuyers: You’re going to need an emergency fund.

House emergencies can happen at any time: A tree falls on your roof, a toilet starts to leak, your dog destroys the carpet, you name it. Having money socked away to cover these expenses is crucial when buying a home.

6 Smart Moves for First-Time Homebuyers

We’ve covered some of the most common first-time homebuyer mistakes, so let’s shift gear to smart moves you can make when buying your first home.

1. Get Paperwork Moving ASAP

What do first-time homebuyers need when getting a mortgage? Here are some of the most common docs to start putting together:

•   Proof of income: Lenders will often want to see two months’ worth of pay stubs or bank statements that confirm your income. They’ll also want your tax returns from the previous two years.

•   Proof of funds: To take you seriously, lenders want to know you have enough money to cover a down payment and closing costs.

•   Proof of identification: This could include a government ID, a passport, or your driver’s license.

Early in the process, you can furnish this basic information to get prequalified at various lenders. They’ll also run a credit check during the prequalification process.

Being prequalified simply allows lenders to give you an idea of what types of mortgages (fixed rate vs. variable rate, 15-year vs. 30-year, etc.) you might get approved for. It’s not a promise of approval, but it does help set expectations as you start to browse listings.


💡 Quick Tip: Your parents or grandparents probably got mortgages for 30 years. But these days, you can get them for 20, 15, or 10 years — and pay less interest over the life of the loan.

2. Check Out First-Time Homebuyer Programs

It’s wise to shop around for a few different mortgage quotes, but it would be a rookie mistake to overlook some great, government-sponsored programs that make buying a house more affordable. These include:

•   FHA loans: These mortgages are designed for those with low to moderate incomes. They typically offer low down-payment requirements, low interest rates, and the ability to get approval even if you have a fair credit score.

•   USDA loans: These provide affordable mortgages to those with a lower income who are planning on buying a home in a qualifying rural area.

•   VA loans: These mortgages help those on active military duty, veterans, and eligible surviving spouses become homeowners. If you can check one of those boxes, you may be eligible for a home loan with no down payment requirement and no PMI.

3. Consider Additional Costs Beyond the Mortgage

As we’ve discussed above, the actual monthly house payment is not your only cost. Your full mortgage payment includes property taxes, homeowners insurance, and, potentially, PMI.

But before you even get to the point of making monthly payments, consider these upfront costs of buying a house:

•   Closing costs, which are traditionally paid for by the buyer.

•   Home inspections, which we highly recommend.

•   Moving costs, whether just renting a truck or hiring movers.

4. Get Preapproved

Mortgage prequalification isn’t a commitment for the lender or buyer — it’s just a first step. If you appear to meet a lender’s standards, you could move on to the preapproval stage.

Getting preapproved for a home loan involves submitting additional income and asset documentation for a more in-depth review of your finances.

Once the lender approves these aspects of your loan application, you’ll receive a conditional commitment for a designated loan amount — called a preapproval letter — and have a better idea of what your loan terms will be.

Mortgage preapproval can help demonstrate to sellers that you’ve completed the first step in getting a mortgage because your credit, income, and assets have already been reviewed by an underwriter. This can smooth the bidding process and could give you an edge over others in a competitive situation with multiple offers.

Recommended: How Long Is a Mortgage Preapproval Good For?

5. Choose the Right Type of Mortgage

You may qualify for various types of mortgage loans. Spend some time researching the different types so you have a better understanding of how they’ll impact your payments for the next several decades.

For instance, you’ll want to know the difference between a fixed-rate mortgage and an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM). You’ll also want to understand how a 15-year term affects your monthly payments when compared to a 30-year term — but also how a longer term increases the amount you’ll pay in interest.

Other mortgage types to understand include:

•   Conventional loans vs. government-issued loans

•   Conforming vs. nonconforming loans

•   Reverse mortgages, jumbo mortgages, and interest-only mortgages

6. Shop Around for the Best Mortgage Rates

Finally, remember that you don’t have to go with the first mortgage offer you get. It’s worth your while to get multiple offers so you can compare interest rates, down payment requirements, terms, and more.

The Takeaway

Buying a house for the first time can be a stressful experience, but remember: At the end of it all, you’ll have a place you can call yours. You’ll build equity over time, and the house may increase in value. Just make sure you research the most common first-time homebuyer mistakes so you know how to avoid them.

Looking for an affordable option for a home mortgage loan? SoFi can help: We offer low down payments (as little as 3% - 5%*) with our competitive and flexible home mortgage loans. Plus, applying is extra convenient: It's online, with access to one-on-one help.


SoFi Mortgages: simple, smart, and so affordable.

FAQ

What are some common mistakes first-time homebuyers make?

Some common home-buying mistakes for first-time homebuyers include forgetting to check (and improve) their credit, not calculating how much home they can actually afford, and forgetting to consider additional expenses, like inspections, homeowners insurance, property taxes, closing costs, and increased utilities. First-timers may also forget to consider the neighborhood as a whole or the future resale of the home.

What are the two largest obstacles for first-time homebuyers?

Two large obstacles for first-time homebuyers include rising housing prices and credit score requirements. Those who don’t already have equity in a current home may have more trouble coming up with a down payment on a new home. First-time homebuyers may also lack the credit score needed to get the best possible rate on a new mortgage.

What are three common mortgage mistakes?

Three common mortgage mistakes are 1) buying up to the limit you’re approved for rather than calculating how much you’re comfortable paying; 2) skipping the home inspection to expedite the process or make your offer more appealing to buyers; and 3) not considering related expenses you’ll have to budget for, including homeowners insurance, property taxes, and repairs and maintenance.

What are the most common mistakes that homebuyers make?

Homebuyers make a number of common mistakes, such as making an unnecessarily large down payment, forgetting to budget for related costs, buying more house than they can afford, and not shopping around for the best mortgage loans.


Photo credit: iStock/Drazen Zigic

*SoFi requires Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) for conforming home loans with a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio greater than 80%. As little as 3% down payments are for qualifying first-time homebuyers only. 5% minimum applies to other borrowers. Other loan types may require different fees or insurance (e.g., VA funding fee, FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums, etc.). Loan requirements may vary depending on your down payment amount, and minimum down payment varies by loan type.

SoFi On-Time Close Guarantee: If all conditions of the Guarantee are met, and your loan does not close on or before the closing date on your purchase contract accepted by SoFi, and the delay is due to SoFi, SoFi will give you a credit toward closing costs or additional expenses caused by the delay in closing of up to $10,000.^ The following terms and conditions apply. This Guarantee is available only for loan applications submitted after 04/01/2024. Please discuss terms of this Guarantee with your loan officer. The mortgage must be a purchase transaction that is approved and funded by SoFi. This Guarantee does not apply to loans to purchase bank-owned properties or short-sale transactions. To qualify for the Guarantee, you must: (1) Sign up for access to SoFi’s online portal and upload all requested documents, (2) Submit documents requested by SoFi within 5 business days of the initial request and all additional doc requests within 2 business days (3) Submit an executed purchase contract on an eligible property with the closing date at least 25 calendar days from the receipt of executed Intent to Proceed and receipt of credit card deposit for an appraisal (30 days for VA loans; 40 days for Jumbo loans), (4) Lock your loan rate and satisfy all loan requirements and conditions at least 5 business days prior to your closing date as confirmed with your loan officer, and (5) Pay for and schedule an appraisal within 48 hours of the appraiser first contacting you by phone or email. This Guarantee will not be paid if any delays to closing are attributable to: a) the borrower(s), a third party, the seller or any other factors outside of SoFi control; b) if the information provided by the borrower(s) on the loan application could not be verified or was inaccurate or insufficient; c) attempting to fulfill federal/state regulatory requirements and/or agency guidelines; d) or the closing date is missed due to acts of God outside the control of SoFi. SoFi may change or terminate this offer at any time without notice to you. *To redeem the Guarantee if conditions met, see documentation provided by loan officer.
Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s website .

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


SoFi Mortgages
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. Not all products are available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.


Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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house with red door

Tips for Buying a New Construction Home

Homebuyers who want modern touches and few maintenance worries may opt to purchase new construction or have a home built to order.

In mid-2022, the median price of an existing home was higher than a new home for a change, the National Association of Home Builders and U.S. Census Bureau reported. Builders continued to grapple with labor shortages and building material bottlenecks.

Understanding New Construction Homes

On the upside, newly constructed homes can come with warranty-backed electronics, energy efficiency, and high-end features.

But new construction isn’t without potential snags, such as construction delays and the mounting price of upgrades.

The type of new construction you choose will determine cost and ability to customize.

•   Tract homes. These go up in a builder’s new development. The buyer chooses the lot and design features.

•   Spec homes. These are move-in-ready homes, but the buyer still might be able to choose some of the finishings. It’s a good idea to understand the difference between standard property features and upgrades.

•   Custom homes. A builder tailors a house to the buyers’ specifications on their land.

How Do I Buy a New Construction Home?

A first step is to get pre-approved for a mortgage and hire a real estate agent. You’ll choose a builder, go over your desired home features, and sign the builder contract, which will include the anticipated timeline, the cost, and all other details.

Mortgage options for a tract or spec home are the same as buying an existing home: conventional or government-backed home loans.

Those who are building a custom home might use a construction loan for the build and then obtain a mortgage once the home is complete. There are, however, FHA, VA, USDA, and conventional construction-to-permanent loans, also called single-close loans.

Figuring Out the Costs of New Construction

How much does it cost to build a new house? For 2,500 square feet, it could cost $345,000, but of course, there are lots of variables, including location, the price of labor and materials, and your tastes.

For a spec home, it might be a good idea to look at comparables in your area. For a new build, HomeAdvisor suggests budgeting the amount each project of the home requires as well as the necessary time to build.

In normal times, expect to spend about 50% of your budget on materials, HomeAdvisor says while noting the rising price of materials.

Buying a perfectly staged model house? The upgrades are considered marketing costs, and the home may have been walked through many times. You might have lots of room to negotiate.

First-time homebuyers can
prequalify for a SoFi mortgage loan,
with as little as 3% down.


Pros and Cons of Building or Buying a New Construction Home

Buying new has its pros and potential cons.

Pros

Everything’s New. Novelty can be a lure all its own. From a practical standpoint, new items signal less maintenance for years.

Additionally, with a from-scratch property, homebuyers may also be able to build their house on the precise plot of land that they want. Buying an existing home could mean having more neighbors nearby or less choice about the size or borders of the property.

Warranties. Appliances, roofing, and the HVAC system may be covered by manufacturer and construction warranties. Replacement or repair may be guaranteed for years, which can be a big relief when buying new construction as opposed to buying an existing home. Ask most homeowners about typical home repair costs. They are the opposite of fun.

Energy Efficiency. Homebuilding has been moving toward energy efficiency, or green architecture. Features like solar panels, treated windows, efficient lighting, and energy-saving appliances curb home energy expenses over the life of owning a home.

Reduced Homebuyer Competition. If a buyer opts to build a new home on an undeveloped tract of land, chances are low that a competing homeowner wants to build in that exact location at the same time.

Benefitting From Buying Discounts. A local contractor has ties to building supply companies and hardware stores. These business-to-business connections may translate into lower costs.

Cons

Land-Starved Locations and Zoning. The denser a community — think a big city or large suburb — the harder it may be to find land to build on. Moreover, local zoning regulations often regulate the size and type of new homes that can be built on residential lots.

Potential Building Delays. It took 9.4 months on average for a contractor to build a house in 2021, and 12.1 months for an owner to, according to census data. That’s a significant wait, but building delays are fairly common and add to the bottom line. If a homebuyer needs to rent, for instance, while the house is being constructed, any delays could mean extra housing expenses.

New-home buyers can prepare for changes by touring similar finished homes in the community, researching the builder’s reputation, and speaking to residents. It’s also a good idea to talk with the builder about common construction delays and how unexpected costs are handled.

Negotiating Price May Be Harder. When working with a homebuilding company, negotiating may not be possible. Many builders attach a minimum price to the construction of a new home.

Upgrades Add Up. If wood floors, glass-front cabinets, and premium tile are must-haves, be prepared to pay for them. There is usually a “starting-from” price attached to newly constructed homes. Upgrades can add substantial costs to a new home.

Buying Tips for Newly Built Homes

Prepare to breathe in that new-house smell, but first lay the foundation.

Line Up Financing

When it comes to buying any type of house, getting pre-qualified is good. Getting pre-approved is more serious, because you will have let lenders vet your finances and give you a specific amount you qualify for.

Lenders can also recommend the best kind of financing for a new build.

Hire a Real Estate Agent

Homebuyers wanting to make a new dream home a reality may want to find a good real estate agent. Here’s one reason why that’s important: The sales contact from the home construction company is hired to represent the seller (i.e., the builder or developer).

A buyer’s agent can champion buyers’ interests, negotiate the contract, and answer questions.

Ask for Builder Concessions, Sign the Contract

Homebuyers aren’t likely to get a builder to slash a new home’s sales price, but they might be able to gain some concessions. Some builders may offer upgrades at a reduced price to incentivize a homebuyer to buy.

Upgrades may come in the form of a higher grade of carpet, granite countertops, a more advanced HVAC unit, or higher-end kitchen appliances. It doesn’t hurt to ask.

Once you’re pleased with your decisions, you’ll sign the builder contract to buy a spec home or start construction on a home.

The Takeaway

Newly constructed homes have obvious appeal, but they can come with potential delays and other drawbacks. Buyers who have their heart set on a brand-new home will find that financing often works the same way as it does for an existing-home purchase.

SoFi can help. SoFi online mortgages come with competitive fixed rates and a variety of terms.

Get a rate quote in a few clicks.


SoFi Mortgages
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. Not all products are available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.


SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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The Mortgage Loan Process Step-by-Step

The Mortgage Loan Process Explained in 9 Steps

Before most house hunters can close the deal, they need to qualify for a mortgage. Learning how to apply for a mortgage in advance — and breaking the process down into digestible steps — can help applicants feel better prepared and avoid any unpleasant surprises during the process. (Good news: The mortgage application process is one of those things that is more complicated to explain than to experience!)

Ready to learn how to apply for a home loan? Here are the nine steps in the mortgage process, including moves you can make that may expedite your approval.

1. Estimate Your Budget

Before any mortgage application, your first step should be figuring out how much house you can afford. Being realistic about your budget — factoring in income, debts, monthly spending, down payment savings, and more — can keep you from shopping outside your budget.

Certain budgeting guidelines can help you determine what kind of monthly mortgage payment you can afford. You’ll also want to figure in homeowners insurance, property taxes, and (possibly) private mortgage insurance, or PMI. Some popular methods for calculating your mortgage budget include:

•   The 28% rule: No more than 28% of your gross monthly income should go to a mortgage payment.

•   The 35% / 45% guideline: Your total monthly debt should be no more than 35% of your pre-tax income or 45% of your post-tax income.

First-time homebuyers can
prequalify for a SoFi mortgage loan,
with as little as 3% down.


When calculating your budget, don’t forget the down payment. A higher down payment can yield a lower monthly payment — and putting down 20% or more could help you avoid PMI — but don’t drain your savings for a down payment. You want to have savings on hand should you need to cover emergency home repair costs down the line.


💡 Quick Tip: SoFi Home Loans are available with flexible term options and down payments as low as 3%.*

2. Choose a Mortgage Type and Term

There are many different mortgage types, and choosing one will depend on your income, down payment, location, financial approach, and lifestyle.

Some choices you’ll need to make at this stage of the mortgage process are:

•   A conventional home loan or government-insured loan (FHA loan, USDA loan, or VA loan)

•   A fixed-rate or adjustable-rate mortgage

•   Your repayment term: typically 15, 20, or 30 years

•   A conforming or nonconforming loan (such as a jumbo loan)

•   If you should opt for an interest-only mortgage

A good lender will walk you through your options, whether it’s a HUD home requiring an FHA mortgage or a high-priced home with a jumbo loan.

3. Get Preapproved

At this stage in the mortgage application process, you can shop around for multiple mortgage lenders and even get prequalified. Look for lenders that not only offer you a great rate but that are also willing to help you navigate the mortgage process. Here are a few questions to ask a lender to narrow down your list.

Found the perfect lender? Then it’s time to get preapproved. During the mortgage preapproval process, you’ll complete a full mortgage application. The lender will perform a hard credit inquiry and issue a letter confirming your ability to borrow a certain amount of money.

In general, the better your credit score, the better the mortgage rate you’ll be approved for. If your score is above 740, you’ll qualify for the best rates. But in general, you’ll need a minimum 620 credit score to buy a house.

A preapproval letter, usually good for up to 90 days, can improve your odds of winning over a seller in a bidding war. In competitive markets, having a preapproval letter may even be a requirement.

Getting preapproved requires some work on your part. You’ll need to furnish the lender with proof that you can afford the mortgage, which typically includes the following documents:

•   Bank statements

•   Paystubs

•   Tax returns

•   W-2s

•   Retirement account statements

•   Gift letter (if you received help from a family member to fund your down payment)

•   Identification

Mortgage lenders prefer borrowers who have stable, predictable incomes. A steady employment history signals to the lender that you have regular income coming in to make the monthly payments of a mortgage. That’s why it’s easier to get approval as a W-2 employee than as a self-employed worker.

In general, lenders like to see two years of employment on a loan application. Self-employed individuals will submit two years of tax returns.

Recommended: What’s the Difference Between a Hard and Soft Credit Inquiry?

4.Find a Property and Make an Offer

Your real estate agent will guide you through the process of finding a property and making an offer on a house. The offer is typically written by the buyer’s agent on a standardized form.

Only make offers on properties that fall within the amount you’ve been preapproved for. Otherwise, the lender will need to re-process your full application again. If you don’t qualify for the new, larger amount, you may not be able to secure any loan on the property.

Your offer will typically include earnest money — a good-faith deposit you’re making on the house. It’s usually 1% to 3% of the offer price, and it’s meant to make your offer more attractive to the buyer.

If your offer is accepted, you’ll send the signed paperwork to your lender.

5. Submit a Mortgage Application

Lenders are required to do a second credit check before final mortgage loan approval and will likely ask for further documentation. If you’ve opened a new account, changed jobs, or made a major purchase since preapproval, those actions will have to be vetted.

Responding quickly to your lender’s requests for documentation can help keep your application on track. Your lender likely has most of the required forms from your preapproval application, but in general, you’ll need:

•   Documentation of income: W-2s or 1099s, profit-and-loss statements if self-employed, paystubs, Social Security and retirement account info, information on alimony and child support, etc.

•   Documentation of assets: Bank accounts, real estate, investment accounts, gifted funds, etc.

•   Documentation of debts: Any current mortgage if you own a home, car loans, credit cards, student loans, etc.

•   Information on property: Street address, sale price, property size, property taxes, etc.

•   Employment documentation: Current employer information, salary information, position/title, length of time at employer, etc.


💡 Quick Tip: Your parents or grandparents probably got mortgages for 30 years. But these days, you can get them for 20, 15, or 10 years — and pay less interest over the life of the loan.

6. Be Patient and Avoid New Debt

The average time between submitting a mortgage application and closing is 50 days. During this period, it’s wise to observe a self-imposed “credit freeze.” That is, don’t run up your credit cards beyond what you usually spend each month. Put off major purchases. Don’t apply for new credit cards, auto loans, or take on any other new debt. And, of course, make sure to pay all your bills on time.

If there’s any significant change in your credit history, your closing may be delayed or even derailed. Should something major come up (like an expensive medical emergency), call your lender to let them know.

It can be tough feeling like your life is on hold while you’re waiting for your mortgage application to be processed. Try to be patient and just let the process play out. Now is a good time to reach out to friends and family who have been through the mortgage loan process before and commiserate. Consider this your orientation into the homeownership club.

Recommended: What’s a Mortgage Commitment Letter?

7. Get a Home Inspection

Home inspections may not be required — but they’re a crucial part of the mortgage loan process. Hire an inspector (your real estate agent may have recommendations, but you can shop around) to thoroughly check the property inside and out for undisclosed problems. If the inspector uncovers expensive issues, you may negotiate for a price reduction or back out of the deal without penalty.

Inspectors will look for a wide range of issues, but some inspectors are more thorough than others. Review this home inspection checklist to make sure your inspector will cover all the bases. In some cases, a general home inspector may find an issue that requires a more specific expert to take a look (and yes, that’ll cost more money — but it may be worth the cost).

Don’t let the infatuation with your dream home blind you. If there are serious issues that come up during the inspection and the sellers won’t budge on price (or agree to fix them before closing), seriously consider walking away. You won’t recoup the money you paid for the inspection — a home inspection costs between $300 and $500 — but if it keeps you from investing in a money pit, it’s money well spent.

8. Go Through the Mortgage Underwriting Process

A major part of mortgage loan processing is the underwriting process. But what is underwriting? The underwriting process begins after you complete your mortgage application and ends after all the documentation has been completed and includes the appraisal. During this process, the underwriter examines the borrower’s financials, as well as the appraisal, title search, and proof of homeowners insurance.

An appraisal is an independent property evaluation of a home’s value. It will describe the home and what makes it valuable. Factors that affect the appraisal value include the location, condition, amenities and features, and market conditions in the area.

A lender requires a home appraisal to ensure that it isn’t lending more than the property is worth. If the appraisal comes in too low, the lender won’t lend extra money to cover the gap. Buyers will need to cover the difference with their own money or renegotiate the price with the seller to match the appraisal.

Once the appraisal is complete and all documentation has been reviewed and verified, the underwriter will recommend approval, denial, or pending. A pending decision is given when information is incomplete. You may still be able to get the loan by providing the documentation asked for.

After underwriting approval with a “clear to close,” you’re set to close on your loan.

Recommended: Local Housing Market Trends

9. Close on Your New Home

Closing day is when all parties sign the final documents, and ownership is legally transferred from the sellers.

In the days prior to your close, the lender should provide a final list of closing costs. Closing costs are typically 3% to 6% of the mortgage principal and consist of:

•   Lender fees

•   Appraisal and survey fees

•   Title service

•   Recording fees

•   Home warranty costs

•   First year’s premium of PMI

You can pay closing costs by wire transfer a day or two before, or by cashier’s check or certified check the day of closing.

Before arriving at closing, however, you’ll want to do a final walk-through of the property. During this walk-through, confirm that the sellers have made all the repairs agreed to — and that the buyers haven’t removed anything, like appliances, that were meant to be left, per the purchase agreement.

In the past, buyers and sellers, their agents, and lawyers would gather in the same room to sign the paperwork at closing. In recent years, remote online closings have become more common.

The Takeaway

Applying for and securing a home mortgage loan follows a simple process that can seem complicated the first time you do it. But if you reply to questions promptly and are organized with your documents, it’s actually pretty simple — even if it does involve a little waiting time.

Looking for an affordable option for a home mortgage loan? SoFi can help: We offer low down payments (as little as 3% - 5%*) with our competitive and flexible home mortgage loans. Plus, applying is extra convenient: It's online, with access to one-on-one help.


SoFi Mortgages: simple, smart, and so affordable.

FAQ

What are the first steps of applying for a mortgage?

The first step when applying for a mortgage is estimating how much house you can actually afford. Once you have an idea of your budget, you can research mortgage types and lenders and get preapproved for a loan.

What are the steps of mortgage loan processing?

During mortgage loan processing, an underwriter will first review your personal information and information about the sale property to determine approval. The potential lender will request an appraisal of the home, and also request additional documents from you as needed. Finally, the underwriter will recommend approval or denial of the loan.

How long is a mortgage loan in processing?

It takes a little under two months from the date you submit your mortgage application and close on the house — the average timeline is 50 days. In some scenarios, you may be able to close in as little as 30 days.

How do you know when your mortgage loan is approved?

Your mortgage loan officer will contact you when your loan is approved. They may call you to give you the good news, but you’ll want to see it in writing so watch for an email as well.

What should I avoid after applying for a mortgage?

You want to keep your financial situation as stable as possible during the mortgage application process. That means don’t open new credit accounts, and keep your credit utilization down (no extra swipes on those credit cards). Don’t fall behind on any bill, either.


Photo credit: iStock/MicroStockHub

*SoFi requires Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) for conforming home loans with a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio greater than 80%. As little as 3% down payments are for qualifying first-time homebuyers only. 5% minimum applies to other borrowers. Other loan types may require different fees or insurance (e.g., VA funding fee, FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums, etc.). Loan requirements may vary depending on your down payment amount, and minimum down payment varies by loan type.

SoFi Mortgages
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. Not all products are available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.


SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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Cheapest Places to Live: US Cities Edition

Researching the most affordable places to live might be on your to-do list if you’re hoping to move to an area with a lower cost of living. Reducing household expenses can be one of the best ways to start building wealth, or at the very least, create some financial breathing room.

We’ve put together a list of the most affordable places to live in the U.S., based on things like housing costs and overall value for the money. Keep reading to learn which cities are rated as the most budget-friendly places to call home.

Most Affordable Cities in the US

If you’re considering how to move to another state and are interested in finding the most affordable places to live in the U.S., it helps to know what makes one city better than another. Things like housing costs, the cost of utilities, and what you’ll spend on food, transportation, and entertainment can all factor into your decision if you’re planning a move.

Keep in mind that the cost of living is not static, which can affect how affordable a city is at any given time. Additionally, the cost of living by state can vary dramatically based on factors like the size of the population, demand for housing, availability of jobs, tax laws, and average household incomes.

💡 Quick Tip: We love a good spreadsheet, but not everyone feels the same. An online budget planner can give you the same insight into your budgeting and spending at a glance, without the extra effort.

Check your score with SoFi

Track your credit score for free. Sign up and get $10.*


How We Found the Cheapest Places to Live

We compiled our list of the most affordable places to live in the U.S. based on the cost of living as it relates to housing. Specifically, we considered median rents for a one-bedroom apartment and median home sale prices for individual metro areas across the country. The cities that had the lowest cost of living in the U.S. overall, based on those criteria, are the ones that made the list.

What are some characteristics of the most affordable places to live? In general, the list includes:

•   An accessible housing market that isn’t pushing homeowners or renters to the limits of their budgets

•   Utility prices that are at or below the national average

•   Lower tax rates, including income tax, sales tax, and property tax

•   Pricing for groceries and fuel, as well as other goods and services, that align with the typical household income

Do the cheapest places to live always check all of these boxes? Not necessarily. But the most affordable places to live typically offer a cost of living that’s below the national average.

With that in mind, here are 10 of the cheapest places to live in the U.S.

1. Hickory, North Carolina

Median home price: $288,000

Median rent: $879

Hickory may be an ideal place to live if you love the outdoors. There’s plenty of access to hiking and biking trails and mild temperatures are perfect for kayaking or tubing down the Catawba River. In terms of affordability, Hickory offers housing and rental prices that are well below the national average. Plus, the city offers the additional advantage of being close to both Asheville and Charlotte.

2. Brownsville, Texas

Median home price: $225,500

Median rent: $700

Brownsville offers the dual advantages of moderately priced housing and being located in a state with no income tax. Home prices rise the closer you get to the Gulf of Mexico, but there are still plenty of budget-friendly options to choose from. Cold weather is a rarity here, which is a plus if you’re looking to move to a warmer climate. Keep in mind, however, that hurricanes and tropical storms occasionally pay visits to the Texas coastline.

3. Fort Wayne, Indiana

Median home price: $230,300

Median rent: $1,149

Fort Wayne could be ideal for home buyers looking for affordable housing. Renters don’t fare quite as well, as median rental prices are higher than some of the other cities included in our rankings. Overall, however, Fort Wayne has a low cost of living, and it offers a quiet place to call home while still having plenty of the amenities you’d expect to find in a bigger city.

4. Dayton, Ohio

Median home price: $207,600

Median rent: $736

Dayton is one of the most affordable places to live for both homeowners and renters alike, with home prices and rents that are well below the national average. The city of Dayton could be a good fit for families who are looking for access to a strong public school system, or for single people and childless couples who desire a relaxed pace. There are plenty of outdoor spaces to enjoy, as well as numerous options for dining and entertainment.

5. Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Median home price: $354,500

Median rent: $815

If you’re looking for an area with a low cost of living that experiences all four seasons of weather, Sioux Falls might be on your list. Housing is a little more expensive here compared to some of the other cities in our rankings, but rent prices may be appealing if you’re not quite ready to buy. There’s a thriving job market, and Sioux Falls offers plenty to do, including aquariums, museums, and parks.

6. Knoxville, Tennessee

Median home price: $395,000

Median rent: $1,256

The city of Knoxville attracts a diverse mix of people who are looking for an affordable place to live, including families, young professionals, college students, and retirees. Housing prices are on the higher side here, but the overall cost of living remains low. Knoxville offers plenty to do and see, which is great for people who are hoping to maintain a more active lifestyle. It’s also just over an hour away from the Great Smoky Mountains in case you want to get away from the bustle of city life for the weekend.

7. Erie, Pennsylvania

Median home price: $177,500

Median rent: $750

Erie boasts affordable housing for both renters and homeowners, along with lakefront views and access to good schools. Erie has low levels of crime and rates well for livability. Its population isn’t growing as quickly as other comparable cities, though whether that’s a pro or a con for you might depend on whether you prefer a larger city or a smaller one. Keep in mind that slower job growth can be a side effect of lower population growth, which is something to consider if you’re moving to Erie to explore career opportunities.

8. Huntsville, Alabama

Median home price: $350,000

Median rent: $975

Huntsville has a burgeoning economy, with plenty of opportunities for job-seekers. The cost of living is low overall, though a home may cost you a little more here compared to other cheapest cities on the list. Huntsville has a number of attractions to take in, including the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, along with some eye-catching natural scenery. One thing to note about the weather is that northern Alabama is often prone to seeing tornadic activity during the spring months.

9. Peoria, Illinois

Median home price: $120,000

Median rent: $695

Peoria might make your shortlist of possible candidates for a new place to live if you’re looking for affordability, good schools, and access to housing. There are plenty of young professionals and families living here, though the population isn’t so large that you’ll feel like you’re getting lost in the crowd. If there’s one potential downside to consider it’s crime. Property and violent crime rates are both above the national average.

10. Kalamazoo, Michigan

Median home price: $195,000

Median rent: $895

Kalamazoo is something of a cultural hotspot, with plenty of theaters, museums, and live music venues. The city hosts numerous community events year-round that always draw a crowd. From a cost perspective, Kalamazoo is highly affordable, and it attracts a lot of young people who are looking to start a career. There are a few downsides, however, including harsh winters and high poverty rates.

Recommended: 10 Most Affordable Cities Based on Cost Per Square Foot of Homes

Other Factors to Consider Before Deciding Where to Live

Cost can be a major concern when planning a move. For example, you might be debating the merits of renting vs. buying, or what you might pay for things like childcare if you’re a parent or health care if you don’t have insurance.

While the financial side of things is important, there are some other things to weigh when deciding where to move. That can include things like:

•   Job opportunities if you’re moving without a job lined up

•   Access to daycare and quality schools if you have kids

•   Crime rates and overall safety

•   Access to public transportation if you’re not taking a vehicle with you

•   Climate and whether the area is vulnerable to things like tornadoes, hurricanes, or wildfires

•   Population size and seasonality (for example, a beach town could get crowded once summer rolls around)

•   Recreation and entertainment

Last but not least, consider how much money you might need for the move itself. If you don’t have cash on hand to cover a moving van, security deposits, or other expenses, you might need to look into financing options. For example, getting a relocation loan for moving could make it easier to get settled in your new place.

💡 Quick Tip: Income, expenses, and life circumstances can change. Consider reviewing your budget a few times a year and making any adjustments if needed.

The Takeaway

Keeping your budget in check — whether you’re relocating across the country or across town — is important when a move is in the works. For example, if you’re planning to buy a home in your new city, using an online home affordability calculator can help you pinpoint what price range you should be looking in for properties.

Take control of your finances with SoFi. With our financial insights and credit score monitoring tools, you can view all of your accounts in one convenient dashboard. From there, you can see your various balances, spending breakdowns, and credit score. Plus you can easily set up budgets and discover valuable financial insights — all at no cost.

See exactly how your money comes and goes at a glance.

FAQ

What determines cost of living for a city?

Cost living is influenced by several factors, including how affordable housing is in a given location, what people pay for transportation and food, and the cost of entertainment and recreation. Areas that have a higher cost of living may also offer a higher median household income, though the two don’t always go hand in hand.

How can I lower my cost of living?

Cutting expenses is a good way to reduce your cost of living. That might include making smaller cuts to your budget, or larger ones, like downsizing your home or moving to a cheaper city. Making a move might seem impractical, but it could yield significant savings if your cost of living in your new city is much lower than it was in your previous location.

Can I borrow money to move?

Moving loans can put cash in your hands that you can use to cover the expenses of relocating. For example, you might use a moving loan to hire professional movers, rent a moving truck, pay for shipping costs, or fund deposits if you’re renting a new place. You could also use a moving loan to help cover your expenses as you get settled in until you find a job.


Photo credit: iStock/Ridofranz

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

*Terms and conditions apply. This offer is only available to new SoFi users without existing SoFi accounts. It is non-transferable. One offer per person. To receive the rewards points offer, you must successfully complete setting up Credit Score Monitoring. Rewards points may only be redeemed towards active SoFi accounts, such as your SoFi Checking or Savings account, subject to program terms that may be found here: SoFi Member Rewards Terms and Conditions. SoFi reserves the right to modify or discontinue this offer at any time without notice.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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