To determine the most affordable ZIP codes to buy a home in the nation, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed five-year estimates of median owner-occupied home values from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey.
We used ZIP Code Tabulation Areas — a Census geography type that defines areal representations of United States Postal Service ZIP codes (USPS ZIP codes do not define geographic boundaries but instead are a network of mail delivery routes in a service area). We refer to Census ZCTAs as ZIP codes.
Of the 33,120 ZIP codes the census publishes data for, 32,989 had boundaries that fell within one of the 50 states or the District of Columbia.
ZIP codes were excluded if owner-occupied median home values were not available in the 2019 ACS, if there were fewer than 1,000 housing units, or if the sampling error associated with a ZIP code’s data was deemed too high.
The sampling error was defined as too high if the coefficient of variation — a statistical assessment of how reliable an estimate is — for a ZIP code’s owner-occupied median home value was above 15% and greater than two standard deviations above the mean CV for all ZIP codes’ owner-occupied median home values. We similarly excluded ZIP codes that had a sampling error too high for their population, using the same definition.
The remaining 17,809 places were ranked based on their owner-occupied median home values. To break ties, we used median monthly housing costs with a mortgage.
Additional data on median monthly housing costs with a mortgage, the share of owner-occupied housing units that have a mortgage, rates of homeownership, and median household income are also five-year estimates from the 2019 ACS.