Cheapest Cities to Live In: More House for Less Buck

September 23, 2022

With higher demand for space and many homeowners leaving the city for more affordable places to live, here are the cities with the most space for the cheapest cost.

It’s your office, gym, kids’ playground, place of entertainment, restaurant, and hotel. It’s your home, and you’re there all the time.

With social distancing becoming the norm, you may have started to reassess your current living situation. What you once viewed as a cozy, centrally located condo may now be a too-cramped space with no outdoor space.

Over one in five adults (22 percent) said they moved due to the outbreak, according to a survey from Pew Research Center. Also, the demand for single family homes in metro areas and suburbs increased 17.3 percent in June, the largest monthly increase since 2016.

Other reasons why people are moving:

  • Job loss: With millions out of work, housing affordability is an issue
  • Safety: Certain communities may be perceived as being unsafe
  • Family: People want to be close to extended family members during this time of uncertainty

Sundae gathered data that shows the top 10 cities in the U.S. with the biggest homes and cheapest price, per square foot. The data is aggregated and analyzed based on the least expensive median price per square foot.

If you’re thinking about moving, especially if you’re leaving California, here are some cities that may give you more house for your money.

Top 10 cheapest cities with the cheapest square footage

A survey of real estate agents revealed the top sought-after upgrades for a home include:

  • A home office
  • More outdoor space, especially for those who have kids and want to practice safe social distancing
CityStateMedian Square FootageMedian Price/Sq Ft
FishersIN3,483$104
Overland ParkKS3,190$140
Sugar LandTX3,060$137
MooresvilleNC3,044 $149
AllenTX3,019$151
SpringTX2,882$120
MontgomeryTX2,816$135
CypressTX2,810$115
Fort MillSC2,805$144
Ormond BeachFL2,767$119

Top 10 cities with the largest homes

Want more space? A report from the New York City area cited a sudden flock of buyers who are ditching city life for less expensive homes in surrounding suburbs, including Long Island, Westchester County, and northern New Jersey.

If size is on the top of your list of requirements for buying a home, these are cities with the largest homes.

CityStateMedian Square FootageMedian Price/Sq Ft
Park CityUT5,002$328
CarmelIN4,159$116
AlpharettaGA3,551$192
FiashersIN3,483$104
FriscoTX3,298$155
Palm Beach GardensFL3,247$193
Overland ParkKS3,190$140
FranklinTN3,186$189
StaffordVA3,146$143
Saint CharlesIL3,102$142

Related: How to Decide on the Best Home Size

Top 10 cheapest cities

Job loss or reduced work hours for many Americans are causing some to think more carefully about their finances.

If price is at the top of your mind for a home purchase, here are some cities with the cheapest price, per square foot.

CityStateMedian Square FootageMedian Price/Sq Ft
DetroitMI1,250$45
PeoriaIL1,902$65
AkronOH1,391$72
ClevelandOH1,639$75
SpringfieldIL1,742$77
ToledoOH1,358$78
EvansvilleIN1,663$88
Fort WayneIN1,874$94
AugustaGA1,720$94
RochesterNY1,521$96

Is now a good time to move?

When the pandemic first started, the Federal Reserve implemented two emergency rate cuts, which pushed rates on mortgages to below 3 percent.

Inventory for homes is low right now and it’s a seller’s market. However, the low mortgage rates may be good news for buyers to afford pricier homes.

In terms of the housing market, it’s a tricky time. Experts say each city and state are different. A housing shortage in New York City, for example, won’t impact someone who wants to buy in Texas.

If you’re serious about buying or selling your home

The landscape for the real estate market has changed to meet coronavirus safety and health concerns. Here are three factors to keep in mind:

  1. Some real estate agents have switched from in-person home tours to virtual tours
  2. Paper-heavy transactions have transitioned from electronic signatures and virtual closings
  3. Banks are being extra careful in lending practices. Mortgage credit is shrinking and some lenders are increasing FICO score and requirements for down payments.

Banks want to hedge their risk and make sure potential mortgage borrowers won’t default on the loan. Two major banks even quit offering new HELOCSs (home equity lines of credit), which could be a potential source of cash for homeowners who suddenly need cash.

If you need cash and want to quickly sell your home before you move, Sundae can help. Here are some helpful resources that provide perspectives of customers who sold their home with Sundae.

Methodology

This article relies on public tax assessor records and real estate listing data for residential houses across the U.S., provided by First American Data.

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Claire Tak

Claire Tak is a writer and content expert with a background in personal finance. She is an advocate for improving financial transparency and literacy through content and education. Claire's work has been featured and syndicated in Bloomberg, MarketWatch, GoBankingRates, and The Motley Fool. When she's not writing, you can find her on a snowboard, watching a movie, or traveling.