Special Report

Metro Areas Where Families Pay the Least for Housing

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U.S. home sales skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic – hitting a 15-year high of 6.1 million in 2021. The spike in demand, coupled with declining inventory, have put upward pressure on housing prices. Renters have not been spared, as housing has become one of the key drivers of surging U.S. inflation.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, a nonprofit think tank, a family of four – two adults and two children – can expect to pay an estimated $15,031 on housing in 2022. This amount varies across the country, however, and despite rising housing costs, in many major metropolitan areas, families are paying thousands less than the estimated national average.

Using data from the EPI’s Family Budget Calculator, 24/7 Wall St. identified the 50 metro areas where families pay the least for housing. Metro areas are ranked on 2022 estimates of housing and utility costs for a modest two-bedroom rental. 

Among the metro areas on this list, housing costs for a family of four range from about $9,500 to less than $8,200. Most of the metro areas on this list are in the South, including five in Alabama and five in Georgia. Lower housing costs in these places are often a reflection of what residents can afford. Every metro area on this list has a lower median family income than the national average of $80,069. Here is a look at the income needed to be middle class in each state

Home values also tend to be lower in areas with low housing costs, making homeownership more affordable for larger shares of the population. This may help explain why homeownership rates are higher than the 64.4% national rate in most of the metro areas on this list. Here is a look at the mortgage rate in America every year since 1972.

Click here to see metros where families pay the least for housing
Click here to see our detailed methodology

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50. Rome, GA
> Est. annual housing costs: $9,504
> Median family income: $61,841 — 51st lowest of 376 metros
> Homeownership rate: 62.5% — 90th lowest of 376 metros
> Median home value: $137,600 — 62nd lowest of 376 metros (tied)

49. Springfield, OH
> Est. annual housing costs: $9,504
> Median family income: $63,361 — 67th lowest of 376 metros
> Homeownership rate: 67.1% — 174th highest of 376 metros
> Median home value: $120,500 — 29th lowest of 376 metros (tied)

48. Huntington-Ashland, WV-KY-OH
> Est. annual housing costs: $9,492
> Median family income: $61,976 — 52nd lowest of 376 metros
> Homeownership rate: 71.7% — 53rd highest of 376 metros
> Median home value: $123,900 — 36th lowest of 376 metros

47. Danville, IL
> Est. annual housing costs: $9,456
> Median family income: $60,958 — 41st lowest of 376 metros
> Homeownership rate: 70.8% — 71st highest of 376 metros
> Median home value: $80,900 — the lowest of 376 metros

Source: SeanPavonePhoto / iStock via Getty Images

46. Macon-Bibb County, GA
> Est. annual housing costs: $9,444
> Median family income: $62,540 — 57th lowest of 376 metros
> Homeownership rate: 61.4% — 72nd lowest of 376 metros
> Median home value: $132,700 — 50th lowest of 376 metros

Source: SeanPavonePhoto / iStock via Getty Images

45. Lynchburg, VA
> Est. annual housing costs: $9,408
> Median family income: $70,981 — 152nd lowest of 376 metros
> Homeownership rate: 70.8% — 72nd highest of 376 metros
> Median home value: $173,900 — 174th lowest of 376 metros

Source: ChrisBoswell / iStock via Getty Images

44. Fort Wayne, IN
> Est. annual housing costs: $9,408
> Median family income: $71,896 — 166th lowest of 376 metros (tied)
> Homeownership rate: 69.7% — 97th highest of 376 metros
> Median home value: $138,200 — 65th lowest of 376 metros (tied)

Source: Ctjf83 / Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

43. Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, IA-IL
> Est. annual housing costs: $9,408
> Median family income: $76,902 — 153rd highest of 376 metros
> Homeownership rate: 70.7% — 73rd highest of 376 metros
> Median home value: $141,600 — 78th lowest of 376 metros

Source: derrickkeeton / iStock via Getty Images

42. Joplin, MO
> Est. annual housing costs: $9,396
> Median family income: $61,218 — 45th lowest of 376 metros
> Homeownership rate: 66.4% — 181st lowest of 376 metros
> Median home value: $126,200 — 41st lowest of 376 metros (tied)

Source: DenisTangneyJr / iStock via Getty Images

41. Logan, UT-ID
> Est. annual housing costs: $9,384
> Median family income: $69,237 — 130th lowest of 376 metros
> Homeownership rate: 64.7% — 132nd lowest of 376 metros
> Median home value: $252,800 — 87th highest of 376 metros

40. Flint, MI
> Est. annual housing costs: $9,384
> Median family income: $62,084 — 53rd lowest of 376 metros
> Homeownership rate: 70.0% — 92nd highest of 376 metros
> Median home value: $119,500 — 24th lowest of 376 metros (tied)

39. Pocatello, ID
> Est. annual housing costs: $9,384
> Median family income: $66,208 — 94th lowest of 376 metros
> Homeownership rate: 68.3% — 140th highest of 376 metros
> Median home value: $165,800 — 157th lowest of 376 metros (tied)

38. Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, AR
> Est. annual housing costs: $9,360
> Median family income: $75,899 — 163rd highest of 376 metros
> Homeownership rate: 60.7% — 67th lowest of 376 metros
> Median home value: $186,500 — 176th highest of 376 metros (tied)

Source: ShriramPatki / iStock via Getty Images

37. Bay City, MI
> Est. annual housing costs: $9,312
> Median family income: $62,204 — 54th lowest of 376 metros
> Homeownership rate: 76.1% — 16th highest of 376 metros
> Median home value: $106,400 — 11th lowest of 376 metros

36. Rocky Mount, NC
> Est. annual housing costs: $9,288
> Median family income: $57,013 — 18th lowest of 376 metros
> Homeownership rate: 63.6% — 110th lowest of 376 metros
> Median home value: $115,400 — 20th lowest of 376 metros

Source: Westhoff / E+ via Getty Images

35. Decatur, IL
> Est. annual housing costs: $9,264
> Median family income: $71,270 — 157th lowest of 376 metros
> Homeownership rate: 69.1% — 120th highest of 376 metros
> Median home value: $103,100 — 9th lowest of 376 metros

Source: sshepard / iStock Unreleased via Getty Images

34. Valdosta, GA
> Est. annual housing costs: $9,240
> Median family income: $59,281 — 28th lowest of 376 metros
> Homeownership rate: 55.8% — 24th lowest of 376 metros
> Median home value: $137,300 — 60th lowest of 376 metros (tied)

Source: DenisTangneyJr / iStock via Getty Images

33. Sheboygan, WI
> Est. annual housing costs: $9,228
> Median family income: $76,845 — 154th highest of 376 metros
> Homeownership rate: 70.3% — 86th highest of 376 metros
> Median home value: $165,400 — 156th lowest of 376 metros

32. Michigan City-La Porte, IN
> Est. annual housing costs: $9,192
> Median family income: $70,726 — 148th lowest of 376 metros
> Homeownership rate: 73.3% — 37th highest of 376 metros
> Median home value: $139,900 — 73rd lowest of 376 metros

Source: sshepard / iStock Unreleased via Getty Images

31. Albany, GA
> Est. annual housing costs: $9,132
> Median family income: $56,166 — 13th lowest of 376 metros
> Homeownership rate: 55.6% — 22nd lowest of 376 metros
> Median home value: $120,200 — 27th lowest of 376 metros

Source: JTGrafix / iStock via Getty Images

30. Springfield, MO
> Est. annual housing costs: $9,120
> Median family income: $64,545 — 75th lowest of 376 metros
> Homeownership rate: 62.4% — 87th lowest of 376 metros
> Median home value: $156,400 — 127th lowest of 376 metros

Source: DenisTangneyJr / iStock via Getty Images

29. Oshkosh-Neenah, WI
> Est. annual housing costs: $9,108
> Median family income: $79,200 — 129th highest of 376 metros
> Homeownership rate: 65.7% — 157th lowest of 376 metros
> Median home value: $158,400 — 135th lowest of 376 metros

Source: DenisTangneyJr / iStock via Getty Images

28. Lawton, OK
> Est. annual housing costs: $9,072
> Median family income: $65,335 — 85th lowest of 376 metros
> Homeownership rate: 54.4% — 16th lowest of 376 metros
> Median home value: $121,500 — 32nd lowest of 376 metros

27. Brownsville-Harlingen, TX
> Est. annual housing costs: $9,036
> Median family income: $47,332 — 2nd lowest of 376 metros
> Homeownership rate: 66.2% — 176th lowest of 376 metros
> Median home value: $89,700 — 3rd lowest of 376 metros

Source: sshepard / iStock Unreleased via Getty Images

26. Dalton, GA
> Est. annual housing costs: $9,036
> Median family income: $58,145 — 23rd lowest of 376 metros
> Homeownership rate: 67.2% — 172nd highest of 376 metros
> Median home value: $136,800 — 58th lowest of 376 metros

Source: Dee / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

25. Morristown, TN
> Est. annual housing costs: $9,036
> Median family income: $58,448 — 26th lowest of 376 metros
> Homeownership rate: 71.8% — 52nd highest of 376 metros
> Median home value: $142,800 — 82nd lowest of 376 metros

Source: Dee / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

24. Johnson City, TN
> Est. annual housing costs: $9,024
> Median family income: $60,890 — 38th lowest of 376 metros
> Homeownership rate: 67.0% — 179th highest of 376 metros
> Median home value: $152,600 — 112th lowest of 376 metros

Source: Sean Pavone / iStock via Getty Images

23. Canton-Massillon, OH
> Est. annual housing costs: $9,012
> Median family income: $70,028 — 139th lowest of 376 metros
> Homeownership rate: 68.8% — 128th highest of 376 metros
> Median home value: $138,300 — 67th lowest of 376 metros

Source: Robin Zeigler / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

22. Florence-Muscle Shoals, AL
> Est. annual housing costs: $8,976
> Median family income: $65,316 — 84th lowest of 376 metros
> Homeownership rate: 69.3% — 110th highest of 376 metros
> Median home value: $140,000 — 74th lowest of 376 metros

Source: jetcityimage / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

21. Lima, OH
> Est. annual housing costs: $8,964
> Median family income: $64,913 — 79th lowest of 376 metros
> Homeownership rate: 66.7% — 188th lowest of 376 metros
> Median home value: $120,300 — 28th lowest of 376 metros

Source: DenisTangneyJr / E+ via Getty Images

20. Parkersburg-Vienna, WV
> Est. annual housing costs: $8,940
> Median family income: $61,708 — 50th lowest of 376 metros
> Homeownership rate: 72.8% — 39th highest of 376 metros
> Median home value: $123,800 — 35th lowest of 376 metros

Source: lydiabilby / E+ via Getty Images

19. Muncie, IN
> Est. annual housing costs: $8,904
> Median family income: $61,415 — 46th lowest of 376 metros
> Homeownership rate: 64.5% — 128th lowest of 376 metros
> Median home value: $96,600 — 7th lowest of 376 metros

Source: ChrisBoswell / iStock via Getty Images

18. Wheeling, WV-OH
> Est. annual housing costs: $8,880
> Median family income: $65,607 — 87th lowest of 376 metros
> Homeownership rate: 74.5% — 26th highest of 376 metros
> Median home value: $115,200 — 19th lowest of 376 metros

Source: DenisTangneyJr / iStock via Getty Images

17. McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX
> Est. annual housing costs: $8,868
> Median family income: $46,609 — the lowest of 376 metros
> Homeownership rate: 68.0% — 150th highest of 376 metros
> Median home value: $90,000 — 4th lowest of 376 metros

Source: SWInsider / iStock via Getty Images

16. Las Cruces, NM
> Est. annual housing costs: $8,808
> Median family income: $51,928 — 3rd lowest of 376 metros
> Homeownership rate: 64.6% — 130th lowest of 376 metros
> Median home value: $153,600 — 117th lowest of 376 metros (tied)

Source: DenisTangneyJr / iStock via Getty Images

15. Cumberland, MD-WV
> Est. annual housing costs: $8,808
> Median family income: $63,095 — 62nd lowest of 376 metros
> Homeownership rate: 71.7% — 54th highest of 376 metros
> Median home value: $131,300 — 48th lowest of 376 metros

Source: Sean Pavone / iStock via Getty Images

14. Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, OH-PA
> Est. annual housing costs: $8,808
> Median family income: $63,220 — 63rd lowest of 376 metros
> Homeownership rate: 70.3% — 83rd highest of 376 metros
> Median home value: $110,300 — 15th lowest of 376 metros

13. Mansfield, OH
> Est. annual housing costs: $8,808
> Median family income: $63,284 — 66th lowest of 376 metros
> Homeownership rate: 66.9% — 185th highest of 376 metros
> Median home value: $115,100 — 18th lowest of 376 metros

12. Weirton-Steubenville, WV-OH
> Est. annual housing costs: $8,808
> Median family income: $61,496 — 47th lowest of 376 metros
> Homeownership rate: 71.0% — 67th highest of 376 metros
> Median home value: $95,400 — 6th lowest of 376 metros

11. Kokomo, IN
> Est. annual housing costs: $8,784
> Median family income: $69,896 — 137th lowest of 376 metros
> Homeownership rate: 72.1% — 47th highest of 376 metros
> Median home value: $113,900 — 16th lowest of 376 metros

10. Pine Bluff, AR
> Est. annual housing costs: $8,748
> Median family income: $53,908 — 6th lowest of 376 metros
> Homeownership rate: 65.2% — 145th lowest of 376 metros
> Median home value: $85,700 — 2nd lowest of 376 metros

Source: mcpuckette / iStock via Getty Images

9. Fort Smith, AR-OK
> Est. annual housing costs: $8,736
> Median family income: $56,536 — 16th lowest of 376 metros
> Homeownership rate: 66.2% — 177th lowest of 376 metros
> Median home value: $119,500 — 24th lowest of 376 metros (tied)

Source: WilliamSherman / iStock via Getty Images

8. Johnstown, PA
> Est. annual housing costs: $8,688
> Median family income: $65,560 — 86th lowest of 376 metros
> Homeownership rate: 74.7% — 24th highest of 376 metros
> Median home value: $94,900 — 5th lowest of 376 metros

Source: Allard1 / iStock via Getty Images

7. Anniston-Oxford, AL
> Est. annual housing costs: $8,676
> Median family income: $59,609 — 31st lowest of 376 metros
> Homeownership rate: 70.4% — 82nd highest of 376 metros
> Median home value: $121,600 — 33rd lowest of 376 metros

6. Gadsden, AL
> Est. annual housing costs: $8,604
> Median family income: $59,713 — 34th lowest of 376 metros
> Homeownership rate: 73.0% — 38th highest of 376 metros
> Median home value: $124,400 — 37th lowest of 376 metros

Source: DenisTangneyJr / iStock via Getty Images

5. Decatur, AL
> Est. annual housing costs: $8,496
> Median family income: $65,097 — 80th lowest of 376 metros
> Homeownership rate: 73.5% — 31st highest of 376 metros
> Median home value: $137,600 — 62nd lowest of 376 metros (tied)

Source: miroslav_1 / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

4. Dothan, AL
> Est. annual housing costs: $8,472
> Median family income: $61,627 — 49th lowest of 376 metros
> Homeownership rate: 69.7% — 99th highest of 376 metros
> Median home value: $131,600 — 49th lowest of 376 metros

Source: J. Michael Jones / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

3. Kingsport-Bristol, TN-VA
> Est. annual housing costs: $8,412
> Median family income: $60,792 — 36th lowest of 376 metros
> Homeownership rate: 73.5% — 32nd highest of 376 metros
> Median home value: $140,800 — 76th lowest of 376 metros

Source: J. Michael Jones / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

2. Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton, NC
> Est. annual housing costs: $8,316
> Median family income: $60,878 — 37th lowest of 376 metros
> Homeownership rate: 73.4% — 33rd highest of 376 metros
> Median home value: $139,100 — 70th lowest of 376 metros

Source: DenisTangneyJr / iStock via Getty Images

1. Jefferson City, MO
> Est. annual housing costs: $8,136
> Median family income: $75,505 — 165th highest of 376 metros
> Homeownership rate: 71.7% — 55th highest of 376 metros
> Median home value: $162,100 — 145th lowest of 376 metros

Methodology

To determine the metro areas with the lowest housing costs for a family of four, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from the Economic Policy Institute’s 2022 Family Budget Calculator.

In the Family Budget Calculator, the EPI estimates the housing costs for families to maintain a modest yet adequate standard of living. The budgets are created for 10 family types for U.S. counties and metro areas. A family of four is defined by the EPI as a married couple living with their two children, and the two children are assumed to be a four-year-old and an eight-year-old.

We used the 384 metropolitan statistical areas as delineated by the United States Office of Management and Budget and used by the Census Bureau as our definition of metro areas.

Metros were ranked based on the EPI’s annual housing cost estimates. Ties were broken by using five-year estimates of median gross rent from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey, with lower rents ranked higher. 

Additional information on median family income, homeownership rate, and median home value are from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey. Because the Census Bureau did not release one-year estimates for 2020 due to data collection issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, all ACS data are five-year estimates.

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