While COVID-19 kept many people at home for another year, more than seven million households moved to another county in 2020 — almost half a million more than moved in 2019. Over the same period, the real estate market saw what Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies called an “extraordinary and unexpected pandemic increase in house prices.”
The winding down (we hope) of the crisis hasn’t slowed the market down. The online real estate marketplace Zillow estimates that the value of a middle-tier home in the U.S. landed at $293,340 (seasonally adjusted) this June, a 15% jump over the previous year. The firm further predicts values will climb 13.2% in the year to come. Realtor.com, meanwhile, found that the national median listing price for active home sales in June grew 12.7% compared to last year, reaching $385,000 — a decrease from the 15.2% growth in May, but still substantial.
But these are national averages, and don’t reflect the cost of housing in many parts of the country. And if the pandemic clarified anything, it was that workers don’t necessarily need to live in a major (and probably pricey) metropolitan area. Many can now work from anywhere, so are able to consider moving to less glamorous and less expensive places, and telecommuting from a home that won’t stretch the budget. (If money is no concern, on the other hand, see American cities with the highest share of luxury homes for sale.)
Reviewing data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey (ACS) five-year estimates, 24/7 Wall St. has identified the 47 locales where it’s easiest to buy a house for less than $100,000. We ranked only census-designated places, cities, and towns with at least 50,000 residents where median home values were below $100,000. All data comes from the ACS except percent of population change, which we calculated using ACS data.
We found some real bargains — vibrant, populous cities with universities, lively cultural scenes, and solid employment bases, like Cleveland, Ohio, and Birmingham, Alabama. Ohio, in fact, comes up nine times on our list, and many other entries are also in the Midwest. Even New York State has pockets of affordability, though, in places like Rochester and Syracuse. (See the cheapest city to buy a home in every state.)