For most of us, the big city conjures up visions of cramped quarters with rental fees that devour the majority of the monthly budget. At WalletWyse, we've challenged this assumption with a customized affordability index that applies median state-wide income to home prices in large metropolitan areas of more than 3 million people. Our results identify five big cities where a single family home can take up a surprisingly small slice of the average family budget.
The Tampa Bay Area sits at the confluence of big-city and Americana. Fittingly, it's one of the few massive metropolitan areas where most people can still afford the American dream of a house, white picket fence, and alligators roaming the backyard. In big city-style, a centralized transit agency coordinates connections for the seven counties that make up the area, by streetcar, bus, highways and even planned high speed rail.
No other place in the U.S. can challenge Chicagoland's dominance as a city both affordable (relatively) and big (very!). Like the city itself, Chicago's housing stock is large and diverse, ranging from thousands of high-rise condos (median price under $200k) to urban townhouses (about $250k) to suburban colonials (about $400k in the nicer areas). If those numbers seem high, consider that a nice suburban home in New York is about 25% more, despite the two states' nearly-identical median incomes.
Houston has a large diversified economy that supports hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs. It also has land - lots of it - and a housing market that remains one of the best values in the United States, especially on a price-per-square-foot basis. Despite the disastrous 2017 storm, this is a big city in a big state known for its big-hearted resiliency and we're certain Houston will stay a winner in the days ahead.
While lesser-known than its large Midwest neighbor, Minneapolis nonetheless boasts one of the best income to housing-price ratio in the United States, along with a big city vibe that has earned it the nickname "the Mini Apple". Like New York and other coastal megacities, the Minneapolis area is home to acclaimed cultural institutions in the visual arts, theatre, music and even cuisine. On the other hand, most single family homes are available for under $250k, unlike in practically all of its larger cultural competitors.
Atlanta is the only city on our list where the typical single-family home is still a good distance south of $200k. It's also a bona-fide southern big city that happens to have 100 buildings above the bona-fide skyscraper height of 100 meters. This thriving downtown, along with a massive network of busses, trains and highways, enables a regional population of almost 6 million people to call the Atlanta area home.