20 Most Affordable Cities Based on Cost Per Square Foot of Homes

December 21, 2020 · 8 minute read

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20 Most Affordable Cities Based on Cost Per Square Foot of Homes

Home is where the heart is, but it can also be where all the money is. Housing is one of the biggest living expenses adults incur on a regular basis.

Whether someone is renting or buying, finding a good deal is usually the goal. Learning about local housing market trends can be helpful.

To make finding budget-friendly housing easier, keep reading to uncover the 20 most affordable cities, as well as the average home price and average cost per square foot of homes in those areas.

Recommended: Cost of Living by State Comparison (2022)

1. Huntsville, Alabama

Average Home Price: $266,000

Average Price Per Square Foot: $118

U.S. News ranked Huntsville as the most affordable place to live out of their ranking of the 150 most populous metro areas in the United States for two years in a row.

Residents tend to have an above-average median annual salary and spend only 19.16% of their income on living expenses. Those who are craving some southern charm may just find what they’re looking for in Huntsville.

2. Des Moines, Iowa

Average Home Price: $172,000

Average Price Per Square Foot: $148

When you consider the fact that the cost of living in Des Moines is lower than the national average and that housing prices in the area are decently below the national median, it’s pretty clear why Des Moines is a great place to live! Unlike many cities, home prices actually increase as you head out to the suburbs and downtown housing prices are more reasonable.

3. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Average Home Price: $210,000

Average Price Per Square Foot: $144

In the past, Pittsburgh lost some of its younger population to metro areas with a stronger job market, but today’s affordable housing market and job growth is attracting younger residents again. There are multiple universities in the area, such as the prestigious Carnegie Mellon University, that also attract a vibrant and youthful population.

4. Grand Rapids, Michigan

Average Home Price: $212,000

Average Price Per Square Foot: $128

The annual average income in Grand Rapids is smaller than the national average, but residents may find their dollars stretch much further in this city due to a lower cost of living.

Housing costs are less than the national median in this area and residents tend to spend less on living expenses, such as groceries and health care, than those who are located in other areas of the country.

5. Indianapolis, Indiana

Average Home Price: $185,000

Average Price Per Square Foot: $102

Indianapolis has a lively downtown area that is quite walkable and full of fun things to do while taking advantage of big-city amenities. Those looking for a more suburban feel can enjoy outer neighborhoods that still offer shopping and entertainment venues without all the hustle and bustle of being in downtown Indianapolis.

6. Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Average Home Price: $246,000

Average Price Per Square Foot: $129

Good old Baton Rouge delivers the charm of New Orleans without the hordes of tourists. Warm weather all year-round and close access to the Mississippi River lends the city a romantic feel.

7. Cincinnati, Ohio

Average Home Price: $190,000

Average Price Per Square Foot: $118

Cincinnati has a reputation for being a sleepy Midwestern metro area, but don’t believe the rumors! This city can offer tons of great amenities from museums, to professional sports teams, to a bevy of great restaurants.

8. Buffalo, New York

Average Home Price: $185,000

Average Price Per Square Foot: $123

Buffalo is currently experiencing a sort of renaissance thanks to a rapidly developing waterfront and being home to one of the nation’s most advanced medical corridors.

Local government support has led to an increasing number of local businesses which means there are likely some pretty good job opportunities to be found for career builders in Buffalo.

9. Louisville, Kentucky

Average Home Price: $215,000

Average Price Per Square Foot: $121

Families will love spending their weekends in Louisville, thanks to having easy access to the Louisville Zoo, Kentucky Science Center, and the Louisville Slugger Museum. Day by day this city is becoming more diverse! Residents are moving in from around the world and the city is supportive of the LGBT community.

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

10. Youngstown, Ohio

Average Home Price: $117,000

Average Price Per Square Foot: $74

Like many Midwestern cities, Youngstown lives up to the hype when it comes to having friendly neighbors who love to celebrate their community. This city has a mix of everything residents could want. The downtown area is surrounded by farmland, which allows residents to shop for produce from local farms!

11. Omaha, Nebraska

Average Home Price: $217,000

Average Price Per Square Foot: $119

Omaha residents sure know how to save a pretty penny! The cost of living in Omaha is so much lower than the national average, that renters typically pay $100 less per month than the average American does on housing. When it comes time to buy a home, median home prices are slightly lower than other spots around America.

12. Kansas City, Missouri

Average Home Price: $220,000

Average Price Per Square Foot: $118

More and more millennials are flocking to Kansas City to take advantage of a fair cost of living and a good job market. This younger generation has helped foster a creative community in Kansas City and locals can enjoy unique boutiques, independent coffee shops, and colorful murals throughout the city.

13. Greenville, South Carolina

Average Home Price: $250,000

Average Price Per Square Foot: $139

In recent years, Greenville has seen an uptick in home sales. More than 40% of Greenville residents own their home and real estate developers are bringing new housing options to downtown. Home prices are lower in Greenville than the national median, so it’s easy to see why so many people are ready to buy homes in the area.

14. Fort Wayne Indiana

Average Home Price: $159,000

Average Price Per Square Foot: $107

For families looking for big city amenities mixed with small town charm, Fort Wayne can meet all of their needs and more. This midsize metropolitan area in the heart of the Midwest is a great place to buy a home, start a business, build a career, or bring up children. The annual BuskerFest devoted to street performers is a local event that can’t be missed.

15. Hickory, North Carolina

Average Home Price: $165,000

Average Price Per Square Foot: $114

Hickory locals happily enjoy a moderate climate and stunning mountain views throughout the Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton area. Also known as the Catawba Valley, this area is home to many retirees and families, but lately more and more young professionals are beginning to see the Hickory appeal.

16. Green Bay, Wisconsin

Average Home Price: $210,000

Average Price Per Square Foot: $115

If you love football, you’ll appreciate the fact that Green Bay is home to the Green Bay Packers, which is one of the most storied football franchises in the NFL. For non-sports fans, there are tons of big-city amenities to appreciate, including a bustling arts and entertainment scene, plenty of higher education opportunities, and a thriving downtown area.

17. St. Louis, Missouri

Average Home Price: $190,000

Average Price Per Square Foot: $139

This historic metro area houses almost 3 million people (known as St. Louisans) and is known for being a tight-knit community that is very family-friendly. Hometown loyalty is strong in St. Louis and many residents choose to come back after heading off to college or moving somewhere else for a while.

18. Kalamazoo, Michigan

Average Home Price: $168,000

Average Price Per Square Foot: $102

This fun and quirky city keeps locals busy with plenty of theaters, museums, live music, a craft brewery scene, farmers markets, and even chili cook-offs. For those who love to shop, the Kalamazoo Mall is popular and well known for being the nation’s first outdoor pedestrian mall.

19. Lincoln, Nebraska

Average Home Price: $225

Average Price Per Square Foot: $120

Lincoln has a thriving economy, a low unemployment rate, and is considered to be a part of the “Silicon Prairie” due to being home to some of Nebraska’s biggest tech companies. This vibrant city is packed full of college students and the 85,000 football fans who flock to games during the fall.

20. Spartanburg, South Carolina

Average Home Price: $184,000

Average Price Per Square Foot: $103

This scenic city has a rich history that predates the Revolutionary War. Today, Spartanburg is a hub of innovation and is home to the Denny’s headquarters and the first full-time North American BMW plant. Career opportunities aside, Spartanburg has seven institutions of higher learning and is a foodie hotspot thanks to the bustling food scene in the area.

Financing a Home

Even the most affordable homes can cost a pretty penny, which is where mortgages come in. Consumers may compare mortgage loan rates and terms from commercial banks, mortgage companies, and certain financial institutions. Typically, certain requirements relating to credit scores and income level help determine if a consumer will receive a mortgage and what their rates and terms are.

When preparing to apply for a mortgage, it can be helpful to consider multiple lenders, comparing loan terms to get an idea of what might work for an applicant’s financial situation. b

Asking lenders for a preapproval or prequalification letter can help mortgage applicants better understand what type of mortgage terms they may be offered.

Working with an online lender to take out a mortgage may be an option for some potential homeowners. SoFi offers home loans and aims to make the process of applying for a home loan as quick and painless as possible. There are no late fees or prepayment penalties, and SoFi will be there from start to finish to make sure the process goes smoothly.

Learn more about SoFi’s competitive rates, exclusive member discounts, and mortgage options.

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External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.


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