Editorial Note: We earn a commission from partner links on Forbes Advisor. Commissions do not affect our editors’ opinions or evaluations.
In 2022, the median home sales price surged to $479,500 before steadily dropping to $416,100 by mid-2023. While home prices are at historical highs, they vary widely depending on where you want to live.
The good news is that it’s still possible to find a home well under the national median price tag in nearly 100 metro areas across the country, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). We sorted through the data to find five affordable cities where you can buy a single-family house for under $300,000.
Where Can I Find a Home Under $300K?
If you’re looking for a place to buy the cheapest homes, your best bet is a city in the Midwest. This region had the lowest median sales price—$301,800—among all regions in the U.S. during the second quarter of 2023, according to NAR.
The Midwest also scored highest on NAR’s Affordability Index, which measures whether a typical family earns enough income to qualify for a mortgage in that region.
We filtered all U.S. metro areas that have a median sales price between $200,000 and $300,000, then looked through home listings and information about these spots to come up with a list of five family-friendly cities where you can find a home under $300K. The following cities have strong housing markets, desirable amenities and general affordability.
1. Green Bay, Wisconsin
Median sales price. $257,600
Estimated mortgage payment. $1,986
According to NAR, the median sales price on single-family houses in Green Bay, Wisconsin, is $257,600. Listing prices are up 10.9% from the year prior. Homes in this area have seen price gains for three years, which works in your favor when you’re ready to sell.
Homes in the $200,000 to $300,000 price range in Green Bay typically come with three bedrooms and one or two bathrooms, with around 1,400 to 2,000 square feet or more. You’ll often find large, well-managed lawns with finished basements and updated kitchens and bathrooms.
Green Bay is strong in other areas as well. The unemployment rate and cost of living are both better than the national average—and there’s plenty to do in this town, even with a relatively small population of about 106,000. Green Bay is home to the Green Bay Packers football team, boasts a thriving entertainment and arts scene, and has two college campuses.
According to Niche, a neighborhood ranking and review site, the public K-12 schools in Green Bay get an overall B rating. The crime in this area is a downside, though, as it receives a C rating from Niche.
2. Albany, New York
Median sales price. $296,300
Estimated mortgage payment. $2,289
In New York’s capital, we found that 339 houses had sold in the $200,000 to $300,000 price range in the past six months. NAR’s data shows that the median home price here in the second quarter was $296,300.
Homes in this price range typically include three bedrooms and 1.5 to two bathrooms and measure an average 1,445 square feet. The listings on Realtor.com in this price range looked well-kept but could use some updates. In the center of town, you’ll find turn-of-the-century brownstones—and one or two of the one-bedroom listings come with a price tag under $300,000.
One of Albany’s strong points is its location. Residents can easily drive to Montreal, New York City and Boston within 3.5 hours, or quickly escape to the nearby Finger Lakes wine region and the Berkshires of Massachusetts. Though job growth is lagging in Albany, the unemployment rate is lower than the national average.
The state capital has a lively downtown with plenty of entertainment and dining options—and while the cost of living is slightly above the national average, it’s more affordable than some of the neighboring cities like NYC. There are some highly rated schools in the Albany area, too, though the overall public school system received a C rating from Niche. Crime and safety received the same grade as well.
3. Fort Wayne, Indiana
Median sales price. $236,600
Estimated mortgage payment. $1,548
The average sales price on single-family houses in Fort Wayne, Indiana, is $236,600. Listing prices are up 5.9% from the year prior, though price growth is slowing, according to NAR’s data.
Homes in the $200,000 to $300,000 price range in Fort Wayne typically come with four bedrooms and two bathrooms, with an average 2,008 square feet and lots of carpeting. Many of the listings on Realtor.com show huge yards and accessory dwellings. However, you might find less-attractive features like carpeted bathrooms or walls decorated in plaid wallpaper and wooden panels.
Fort Wayne has a much lower cost of living than the rest of the nation, making it a great place to buy a home and put extra money toward savings. The city also boasts an art scene, plenty of entertainment options and long-term economic development projects aimed at revitalization.
Niche grades each city based on 12 factors, such as public schools, jobs, outdoor activities, diversity and nightlife. Fort Wayne received a B or higher in all of them except crime and safety, which earned a C.
The year-over-year unemployment rate has increased in Fort Wayne, although the labor market has been more resilient than the national average. Most people in this city work in transportation, utilities, manufacturing, and education and health services.
4. Abilene, Texas
Median sales price. $235,100
Estimated mortgage payment. $1,841
Among the top states with the most new builds, Texas takes the No. 6 spot with 9.01 homes built per 1,000 residents. Abilene currently boasts 52 new-construction listings among single-family houses in the $200,000 to $300,000 price range.
Houses in Abilene typically come with three or four bedrooms and at least two bathrooms, measuring around 1,695 square feet on average. Brand-new properties in Abilene are often at the top of the price range but typically come with hardwood, tile or laminate flooring and new appliances.
Some of Abilene’s best features include above-average schools, plenty of parks, and are a three- to four-hour drive to Dallas and Austin, respectively. The employment situation here needs work, according to Niche, but Abilene generally scores well in diversity, weather and commute lengths.
5. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Median sales price. $225,900
Estimated mortgage payment. $1,620
Some of the best-known cities in the U.S. offer homes within our $300K target. You can buy an affordable single-family house in St. Louis, Pittsburgh, New Orleans, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Memphis in this price range. While these big cities all score highly for amenities, nightlife and diversity, they also tend to get poor marks in important areas like schools, crime, jobs and cost of living.
Pittsburgh is the exception within this group. It’s consistently listed as one of the best places to live and to buy a home in the U.S., and it receives an overall Niche grade of A. The metropolis—once known as “the heart of a dying steel industry”—is now earning a reputation as “Reinvention City,” according to U.S. News & World Report. Pittsburgh is a hub of technology and education with thousands of acres in ample green space, three professional sports teams, and plenty of museums, events and restaurants. Employment is on an upward trend, though NAR’s report notes it needs improvement.
The median sales price on single-family houses in Pittsburgh is $225,900. Many current home listings boast charming exteriors, renovated interiors, and extra backyard amenities such as decks and fish ponds. Just a few homes look bad enough to require updates before moving in.
Among properties that sold within the past six months in this price range, you’ll typically find houses with three bedrooms, two bathrooms and an average square footage of 1,512. Plus, new construction is strong here, which could cause prices to moderate as inventory builds up.
How To Buy a House Under $300K
Homes under $300,000 are generally affordable, attractive and well-kept. Some—but not all—have modern updates and beautiful fixtures. And depending on the location, you might be able to snag a newly built property in this price range.
If you find a desirable home in this price range, you’ll need to put in an offer quickly. A tightening inventory nationwide has increased buyer competition and pushed prices higher, so it might be challenging to get your purchase offer accepted.
One drawback to getting a home in this price range is that many properties lack modern updates. Here are some of the features we identified in the homes within this price range:
- Older exterior siding
- Simple landscaping
- Older interior linoleum
- Wall-to-wall carpeting
- Outdated kitchen cabinets and appliances
- High crime rates for the city overall
Buying a move-in-ready home in this price range requires working with an experienced real estate agent. Before you get in touch with one, create a list of features you want in a home. For instance, these may include the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, proximity to good schools and whether you’re willing to buy a fixer-upper. A real estate agent with experience in the area can show you new properties in your price range or even off-market home listings.
If you find a property you like that could use some work, you might consider taking out a FHA 203(k) loan. These loans provide the money to buy a home along with funds to rehabilitate the property.
The advice for buying a home is generally the same no matter your price point. Here are some tips when you’re taking a step toward homeownership:
Set a Budget
According to one rule of thumb, you should spend no more than 28% of your pretax income on your housing payment and 36% on all your debts combined. So if your household income is $100,000 a year, then you might set your housing budget at $2,333 per month—or up to $3,000 if you have no other debts. A home affordability calculator can help you estimate your price range.
A mortgage preapproval is a letter from a lender that shows how much you can borrow, based on details like your credit history, income, cash reserves and other debts. When you approach a lender for a preapproval, they’ll perform a hard credit check and review your financial documents to gain a clear picture of your financial standing. This information helps you set a home-buying budget before you start looking at homes. It may also improve your purchase offer because the seller knows you have a good chance at getting your home loan.
Check Mortgage Rates
The interest rate on your mortgage will impact your monthly payment, so get an idea of general current mortgage rates while you’re setting a budget. Advertised rates may only apply to extremely qualified borrowers, so it’s a good idea to get a rate quote from a lender. This can help you better estimate your payments using a mortgage calculator. Once you find a property, you can ask your lender about locking your mortgage rate.
Home-Buyer Assistance Programs
Home-buyer assistance programs are designed to help home buyers come up with the cash for a down payment and, in some cases, the closing costs. The funds may come in the form of a grant, which doesn’t have to be repaid, or a low-cost loan with flexible repayment terms. These programs are available through some nonprofit organizations and your state housing finance agency.
Lenders may also offer their own financial assistance or other low-down-payment loans, such as conventional loans with 3% down and FHA loans with 3.5% down.
Alternatives to Houses Under $300K
We focused on cities where you can buy a home in the $200,000 to $300,000 price range. But there are also plenty of properties available under $200K and under $100K if you know where to look.
If you still can’t find a desirable house in your budget, you might consider looking at condominiums. Condos are often more affordable than single-family houses and come with neighborhood amenities, outdoor maintenance, landscaping and even utilities in some cases. However, you’ll typically pay a monthly fee to cover the benefits.
Faster, easier mortgage lending
Check your rates today with Better Mortgage.