- The median home price in the U.S. is $337,200
- Living frugally may mean living rurally
- Several of the nation’s cheapest housing markets are in the Midwest
Looking to buy a house? Depending on where you live, it could be a lot more expensive than you thought.
And yet, that looks downright reasonable compared to some of the country’s most expensive housing markets.
While those markets are outliers, prices nationwide have been on a slow and steady rise for decades.
To illustrate, consider the median price of a new house 30 years ago, in May of 1988. At that time, the median price was $110,000, according to government data. 20 years ago, in 1998, it was $153,200. And 10 years ago (in the midst of the housing crisis), it was $229,300.
Despite the considerable rise in housing costs, millions of Americans still aspire to own homes.
In fact, 20% are willing to trade their right to vote for a 10% down payment on a house, according to an industry survey.
The true cost of buying a home
But housing prices are only one piece of the puzzle. Buying a house comes with a number of additional costs and fees that many prospective homeowners overlook or don’t account for.
These costs can include:
- Inspection fees
- Closing costs
- Property taxes
- Time and money spent researching and visiting homes that are on the market
On top of that, it’s generally expected that a buyer will have saved up between 3.5% and 20% of the purchase price as a down payment. You’ll need some money in the bank, too, as cash reserves to make sure you can make your initial monthly payments.
America’s cheapest housing markets
The good news is that you don’t need to live in a treehouse or a shoebox to find an affordable home.
There are still places where houses sell for a relative bargain—if you know where to look.
These ten cities are home to America’s cheapest housing markets (as of January 2018), according to data from the National Association of Realtors.
|Location||Median home price|
|Bay City, Michigan||$88,900|
|Weirton, West Virginia||$90,000|
|Pine Bluff, Arkansas||$94,500|
|Elmira, New York||$109,000|