Special Report

Cities With the Nicest Older Homes

Older homes, specifically historic or so-called century homes, can have special appeal. They are filled with character and often feature unique architecture and/or materials from an earlier time. Along with character, however, they often come with other issues, much less appealing — mold, termites, outdated wiring and plumbing, and more. And to maintain an old home and keep it up-to-date can be expensive — especially if one wants to keep the character intact. (These are the oldest houses for sale in America.)

Most cities nationwide have old houses, built in 1949 or before. Many also have historic homes, so designated because of their cultural or architectural importance. In some cities these may be in a state of disrepair, while other cities have some of the nation’s nicest historic homes. 

How do we define “nice?” Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey, 24/7 Tempo compared the median value of older houses (those built in 1949 or before) to the median value of all homes. If the older ones are nice — well maintained and updated — they would presumably have greater median value than the median for all homes. 

It’s not surprising to find that older cities, specifically known for their beautiful historic districts — like Savannah, Georgia; New Orleans; and Charleston, South Carolina — are among those with the nicest older homes.  

Click here to see the cities with the nicest older homes

Most of the cities on our list are in the South or Northeast, many of them along the East Coast, from Massachusetts to Florida. But some Western states are represented as well, including California with three cities and Colorado with one. There are also two in the Midwest. Somewhat surprisingly, there are none in New Mexico, where some of America’s first settlements were founded. (These are the oldest cities in America.)

To determine the cities with the nicest historic homes, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data on median home value by year of home built from the U.S. Census Bureau. Places were ranked based on the ratio of the median home value for homes built in 1949 or earlier to the median home value for all homes. Only places with at least 500 housing units built in 1949 or earlier and at least one historic district listed in the National Register of Historic Places of the National Park Service were considered. Data on median home value and the number of homes built in 1949 or earlier came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey and are five-year estimates. Data on the National Register of Historic Places came from the National Park Service and are current as of June 2021.