The trick to finding an affordable home is to find a house in an up-and-coming neighborhood before prices start to skyrocket. These 12 cities have neighborhoods that provide the best bang for your buck.
Neighborhood: North Burnet
While downtown is full of dive bars and music venues that might leave you with the impression this city isn’t affordable, there are neighborhoods to be found within reach of all the unique things the city has to offer.
North Burnet, for example, is a neighborhood directly north of the city center. Here, a home can cost hundreds of thousands less the average home in downtown Austin. This area is close to incredible job opportunities and plenty of tech companies. Though you’ll have to drive downtown to catch a concert, you won’t feel like it’s all work and no play in North Burnet. Around The Domain, you’ll find ramen bars, gastropubs, cocktail bars, and an iPic Theater.
San Francisco, California
Neighborhood: Balboa Terrace
Like other neighborhoods on San Francisco’s west side, Balboa Terrace is quiet and usually lacks tourist traffic. This allows the locals to build a true sense of community here—whether it’s volunteering at one of the top-rated schools or joining in with Friends of the Urban Forest to plant trees in the neighborhood. Of course, like everywhere else in San Francisco, you can expect to pay more for a home here than you would in many other cities. But home prices in Balboa Terrace are on par with high-rise condos on the other side of the city—and come with far, far more charm.
Neighborhood: West Roxbury
West Roxbury gets you into Boston in about a half hour via one of the three commuter rail lines that stop in town. Most homes on the market have at least two bedrooms, with modest yards perfect for a game of catch. Nearly all schools are highly rated, though the educational opportunities extend well beyond the school day. That’s because West Roxbury also borders Brook Farm, a historical, 1840s farm that once hosted Nathaniel Hawthorne and is open for tours. Summer break? The neighborhood’s proximity to 95 makes summer trips to Cape Cod easy, especially since you’ll be ahead of city traffic.
Los Angeles, California
Neighborhood: Harbor City
Despite the name, this neighborhood is located inland, sandwiched between Torrance and Long Beach. The character of the neighborhood is hard to define, as housing stock varies from million-dollar, multi-family properties to manufactured homes under $200,000. There’s a college here (Los Angeles Harbor College), but it’s also surrounded by the Harbor Park Golf Course. Harbor City has a little something for everybody.
Perhaps the big benefit of living here is proximity—you’ve got access to the Pacific Coast Highway, the 101 (which takes you north to Los Angeles), and the 405 (the route to LAX). In a city where the distance from your home to a highway is everything, this location works to your benefit.
Neighborhood: Jeffery Manor
First-time homeowners looking for a piece of Chicago to call their own have been heading to Jeffery Manor, a diverse neighborhood on the South Side with a strong sense of community. Here, homes are affordable and often downright adorable, especially if you happen to love mid-century modern style. (The neighborhood was established shortly after World War II.)
You can purchase a single-family home for less than $100,000. Schools aren’t as highly-ranked as others you’ll find in the city. The Jeffery Manor branch of the Chicago Public Library is beloved by residents. Love nature? There’s an actual, genuine prairie in the neighborhood, the Van Vlissingen Prairie.