Twenty counties where houses are still affordable

Despite fast-growing populations, these places boast relatively low home prices

Twenty counties where houses are still affordable

The cost of real estate has climbed in recent years, with half of Americans considering housing affordability a major problem in a 2021 survey. Recent data from MoneyGeek reveals that this is not the case everywhere in the country, however. By analyzing price appreciation since 2019 and homeownership costs as a percentage of median income, MoneyGeek has found 20 growing US counties with populations larger than 250,000 where housing is still affordable.

Clayton County, Georgia tops the list of affordable real estate markets. Despite recording an 83.1% home price appreciation in the last three years, it boasts low costs of living and what MoneyGeek calls “a small-town vibe” while still featuring major-city amenities. The median home price in Clayton is $185,811, home costs making up 41% of residents’ income.

Second is Cumberland County. One of the fastest-growing counties in Pennsylvania, its increased housing inventory and employment opportunities have fueled diverse population growth. Home costs constitute 44% of residents’ income, while the median home price is $257,744 following a 53.4% appreciation since 2019.

Third on the list in Lexington County, South Carolina, a suburb made affordable for young professionals and families due to migration and growing economic opportunity. Home prices have appreciated by only 34.4% in the last three years. The recorded median home price is at $206,726, and home costs only take 34% of the residents’ income.

Following Lexington Country is Madison County, Alabama. MoneyGeek has noted that the county is home to Huntsville, recently ranked the best place to live in 2022 by US News. Homes in the county start at a low price to match the low costs of living. Growing job opportunities have also encouraged people to flock there. Home price appreciation since 2019 was recorded at 42.3%, median home prices at $263,726, and home costs as proportion of income at 42%.

Rounding out the top five is Marion County, Florida, which has reported strong commercial and residential growth and increased home construction. Its median home price of $218,548 is a result of 50% home price appreciation over the past three years. Home costs constitute 47% of income.

Other affordable real estate markets are: Hidalgo County, Texas; Oklahoma County, Oklahoma; Benton County, Arkansas; Escambia County; Florida; and Tulsa County, Oklahoma. These are followed by Spartanburg County, South Carolina; St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana; Pasco County, Florida; Lubbock County, Texas; Forsyth County, North Carolina; Douglas County, Nebraska; Greenville County, South Carolina; Richland County, South Carolina; Webb County, Texas; and Knox County, Tennessee.

Despite home prices burgeoning to nearly impossible highs, the good news is that home prices are not rising at the same rate everywhere. Affordability is influenced by an area’s cost-of-living, MoneyGeek noted. Tertiary markets – generally holding a population below one million and less known than primary and secondary property markets – hold twin promises of a growing population and sustained low costs of living as a potential solution to the housing affordability crisis homebuyers currently face.