Best Places To Live In The U.S. For Long-Term Homeowners

by Guest Blogger on 2012-11-108

This guest post was written by Henry Truc from Go Banking Rates, a website that publishes informative personal finance content and helpful tools, as well as the best interest rates on financial services nationwide.

Finding the best cities, towns or other locations in the U.S. can be a bit difficult these days. First, the problem is categorizing what “best real estate” actually means. For some, it’s about buying property that has the most growth potential to flip for a profit. For most, however, the best real estate value for their money is a place they can call home.

Home, generally speaking, is a place where you can live comfortably and become part of a community. That’s hard if your neighbors are shuffling in and out every other month because of fluctuating real estate prices and an overwhelming number of foreclosures, yet not every neighborhood is experiencing these same economic challenges.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 76.4 million home units owned in the U.S., with a third of that number owning their homes outright. Real estate prices in some areas have been harder hit than others due to higher foreclosure rates and underwater mortgages. That said, some regions have held up just fine in this recession, despite losing some housing market value, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing for potential home buyers.

best housing market

Where Do You Want To Live? Criteria To Consider

Depending on your criteria for a good home, some markets will obviously be more appealing to others. However, for most people, there are universal essentials that a home and its surrounding area must have.

  • Stable Housing Market: Areas with high foreclosure rates see neighbors come and go regularly. If you’re looking for a home to settle into for the next decade or two, you’d want to know the people living around you. We don’t even need to mention the havoc that would have on the value of your home, either.
  • Available Employment: Unless you’re retired, work from home or independently wealthy, having a job close to home is important. That could be hard if no businesses around the area are hiring.
  • Safe Community: Nobody wants to live in fear.
  • Return on Investment: Even though you don’t plan to sell your new home any time soon, it is reassuring to know that it’s actually contributing to your net worth and you’re not dumping money into a black hole.

Certainly, there are other factors to consider. For example, parents want access to good nearby schools, fun-loving singles may want local entertainment venues and so on. It really depends on the lifestyle you enjoy.

Best Areas and Places To Live In The U.S.

Here are a few residential real estate locations in the country that fit the bill from the list above, based on rankings from a few sources such as, Huffington Post and CNBC.

  • Denver, CO: Considered one of the most affordable and better performing markets.
  • San Diego, CA: Despite being one of the epicenters of the mortgage meltdown, this market has been making a comeback and is considered one of the safest in the country.
  • Charlotte, NC: This market has prestigious universities nearby and serves as the hometown for many of the headquarters of major corporations.
  • Austin, TX: Homes in the area are affordable and the job market in the surrounding area is favorable.
  • Washington, DC: This market is both one of the more stable and better performing markets in the U.S., and the logical destination for aspiring politicians.

While this list isn’t perfect for everyone, each of these cities represents a combination of affordable homes, stability in both job and housing markets, financial return potential and safety. Some cities that aren’t mentioned may be better at one or two particular categories but lacking in others.

Finding the best housing market for you comes down to knowing what your needs are. Even if housing prices are cheaper and mortgage rates are lower than they’ve ever been in history, there’s no point in buying a home that doesn’t fit what you want.

What housing markets have you been looking at and why?

Created December 2, 2010. Updated November 10, 2012. Copyright © 2012 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Paul December 3, 2010 at 8:06 am

Here’s another thought – if the mortgage payments you have to make are considerably more then the cost to rent, then the housing prices may be overinflated. If so, your best bet might be to just rent.

GK Wallace December 3, 2010 at 11:31 am

A very interesting article. Although Henry Truc has a pretty flexible definition of “affordable”. Washington, D.C. and San Diego, CA. Affordable? For Donald Trump maybe.

Silicon Valley Blogger December 3, 2010 at 11:40 am

Thanks GK. Perhaps I’m being myopic, but I usually think of anything outside of the coasts as “affordable”. San Diego — okay I would question its affordability. But there can be pockets that were hard hit by the real estate slide, and I can see how someone could look upon affordability as relative. Over here, we had a house in a high end neighborhood selling for $1.2 million. Then within a month with no takers, the owners dropped the price to $980,000. And out of the woodwork came a whole lot of offers. I suppose in that example, $980K came across as a steal.

DR December 5, 2010 at 2:44 am

The UK housing market has yet to settle with prices all over the place and continuing to drop while people struggle to get a mortgage or find the 25% deposit that lenders now require. Renting is now more popular than it has been for years and some houses are staying on the market for years (mine’s been up for sale for 20 months now and the price has dropped twice).

Paul has a point regarding loan payments vs rent; also the cost of repairs need to be considered when buying your own home.

Roch January 1, 2011 at 1:44 pm

Great article although this does not apply to the City of Ottawa in particular. btw that’s a great tilt shift picture.

Terry November 11, 2012 at 2:21 am

I’d like to know the best places to live in the U.S. for low-income renters with no hope of ever being able to buy a home.

Ryan Hart November 19, 2012 at 10:27 pm

It’s interesting to read this post almost 2 years later. I think there are long-term opportunities in most U.S. cities. However, the homeowners that always come out on top are those that are involved in their local communities, watch development trends and sell when home values are rising. The best part is that these rules apply to any market.

Silicon Valley Blogger November 27, 2012 at 12:54 pm

Thanks for your thoughts Ryan…. agree with you on your points.

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