The Top 10 Most Affordable Housing Markets: The Windy City Wins

Find out where you'll get the most bang for your housing buck on this surprising list.

Photo courtesy of With the median home priced at $160,000 and the average annual salary coming in at $72,400, on average, a home in Chicago is only 2.2 times the average annual paycheck, the lowest of any market in the U.S. This two-bedroom, three-bath house is priced below the median, at $135,000, but it's a tight 835 square feet.

It looks like the Midwest is best when it comes to affordable housing markets. At least that’s what research from ZipRealty, a prominent online real estate brokerage, revealed. The researchers found that Chicago is the best market for buyers right now.

To create the Top 10 Most Affordable Markets list, they analyzed median home sales price data gathered from 30 metro areas, then divided it by estimated family income data from the Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD). For example, the median home sales price in Chicago is $160,000, and the estimated family income there is $72,400, showing that a residence in the Windy City costs 2.2 times the average annual income. That’s lower than any other major metro area in the US.

Photo courtesy of In Philadelphia, the median home is priced at $190,000, while the average annual salary is $78,800, so on average, a home in this area is only 2.4 times the average annual paycheck, the second lowest of any U.S. market. This charming two-bedroom, one-bath house is priced close to the median at $200,000. 

Philadelphia ranked second, with the median home price ($190,000) being 2.4 times the average family income ($78,800). Orlando was third: while the median home price ($140,000) is less expensive than that in the first two markets, the estimated family income ($54,800) is lower. That puts the price of a home at 2.6 times the average family income. Richmond, Va., is fourth. It would appear that metro areas east of the Rocky Mountains have more affordable home prices than those in the west.

It should come as no surprise that the most expensive housing markets by these standards are in California: Orange County, the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles top the list. In Orange County, the average home sells for 11.8 times the local 2014 estimated family income. In the Bay Area, homes are currently selling for 8.7 times the local average family income, and in Los Angeles, the average home is 7.4 times higher than the estimated family income.

"In the most affordable areas of the nation, homes are available for just over twice the annual average household income," said ZipRealty CEO Lanny Baker. "While the cost of a home is still a very significant expenditure for families everywhere, it's interesting to see these regional differences in affordability." 

See what an average house costs in these metro areas, and find out if you live in one of them most affordable markets, by browsing the gallery below.

Zillow Real Estate Search


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