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2024's Most Affordable Cities for Young Families

As one of the nation's leading homebuilders, we at LGI Homes are devoted to helping families realize the dream of affordable homeownership.

As we examine 2024's housing landscape, our research has identified seven cities primed for growth opportunities for young homebuyers, thanks to their lower living costs, expanding economic prospects and wealth of family amenities.

These cities—spanning from Riverside to Raleigh—are emerging as the top budget-friendly metropolitan areas for growing families. Whether for job stability, affordable neighborhoods, highly rated schools, or plenty of family amenities like parks, recreation and kid-friendly attractions, these cities will offer a complete package to young families in 2024.

Raleigh, NC

Raleigh will be number one on many families' relocation lists this year. According to PayScale, it offers an attractive cost of living, with expenses roughly 4% under the national average. Housing is 2% cheaper than the country overall, while transportation is 5% lower. Even grocery bills are 8% less than typical U.S. rates. With below-average living costs, Raleigh remains enticing for families hoping to keep budgets in check.

Median home values here are $379,000, recently dropping 2.7% as prices softly correct. Yet on a per-square-foot basis, rates rose 7.6% over last year to $226. That leaves room for continued home price appreciation once the market stabilizes. Unemployment remains low at 3.3%, beating the 3.5% U.S. benchmark, supporting a flourishing job market.

Many suggest much of Raleigh's economic success comes from the prominent research universities that comprise the Research Triangle – Duke, UNC Chapel Hill and N.C. State. This concentration of top talent fosters growth in tech and research fields especially, with Raleigh earning accolades as the 5th hottest job market nationally this year. Education levels also reflect the impact, with Raleigh boasting one of the highest shares of college-educated residents countrywide.

Beyond those attractive aspects, Raleigh offers over 200 parks for outdoor recreation. Historic Pullen Park amuses, while William B. Umstead State Park draws visitors to its hiking trails and picnic spots. Museums like the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences also enrich cultural experiences citywide.

Minneapolis, MN

Minneapolis might be cold for much of the year. Still, with a cost of living roughly 1% under the national average, a robust economy and plenty of leading attractions, there's plenty here for young families to love. Housing is affordable, at 8% below the country's median price. Healthcare, utilities and groceries also come out lower than most other U.S. metros.

Median home values reach $315,000, recently appreciating 4.5% annually. Sale prices per square foot are also rising, demonstrating the potential for high home value appreciation. Many new construction communities are developing in Minneapolis, helping increase single-family stock and stabilize prices.

Job creation continues healthily, with regional employment expanding 2.8% last year. The metro economy gains from anchor institutions in the Fortune 500, including Target, 3M and UnitedHealth Group. It boasts excellent depth in other industries, from tech to finance. With plentiful openings, unemployment currently holds low at 3.3%.

The Twin Cities' educational attainment rates also rank highly nationally, with past honors for the city including "Most Literate City," reflecting the area's exceptional literacy. These strengths stem partly from Minnesota's long-standing commitment to education, which has recently been evident in the state's recognition of over 500 schools for multi-dimensional excellence.

With 22 lakes, 180 parks and the nation's most extensive urban sculpture garden, the  "City of Lakes" has plenty to offer in the way of recreation. Iconic attractions like Minnehaha Falls, the Como Zoo and the Mall of America add to the wealth of family-friendly offerings. Meanwhile, newly flourishing craft-brewing, dining and arts scenes deliver cultural offerings for young parents.

Riverside, CA

While Riverside's cost of living exceeds the national average, it remains one of California's more budget-friendly urban centers. Compared to major metros like San Francisco and Los Angeles, Riverside provides a lower overall cost of living. Residents here benefit from more affordable utilities and transportation than other Golden State cities while still earning competitive salaries statewide.

Based on February 2024 data, median home values are $625,000. Though higher than the U.S. median, this price point is achievable for many families pursuing homeownership in California, especially given the above-average wages.

Riverside's economy draws strength from diverse healthcare, education and manufacturing sectors. The city's prime Inland Empire location is also a hub for logistics and distribution firms. These industries are currently powering a healthy job market and driving unprecedented population growth for the Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario Metropolitan Area, one of the fastest-growing areas in the nation.

An engaging cultural scene also enriches life in Riverside. Landmarks like the famed Mission Inn and Museum of Riverside chronicle the area's vibrant history. Plenty of natural beauty surrounds the city, from the U.C. Riverside Botanic Gardens to the California Citrus State Historic Park, delivering green space for families.

Lastly, Riverside offers ample hiking, biking and open-air opportunities due to its proximity to outdoor recreation in the San Bernardino National Forest and Santa Ana River Trail.

Atlanta, GA

As a significant Southern hub, Atlanta offers an enticing blend of economic opportunity, cultural richness and relative affordability. Housing expenses run just 8% above average nationally. In comparison, costs like groceries and utilities come discounted by up to 14% compared to most metros of this size.

Median Atlanta home values currently sit at $430,000 after appreciating 11.7% over the past year. Sale prices per square foot also demonstrate room for continued growth for families moving to Atlanta. The metro economy is seeing particular expansion in sectors like technology, healthcare, film production and tourism – all offering abundant openings to job seekers.

The city also excels in educational attainment, with roughly half adult residents holding at least a bachelor's degree. Public school districts, plus renowned higher education institutions like Georgia Tech and Emory University, underpin these high levels. Multiple Atlanta schools have also achieved national-level recognition.

Regarding quality of life, iconic attractions like the Georgia Aquarium and High Museum of Art showcase the city's vibrant arts and culture. Atlanta's extensive green spaces, from Piedmont Park to the Atlanta BeltLine trail encircling the city, provide plenty of recreation. And a famously diverse dining scene reflects the metro's multicultural fabric.

Phoenix, AZ

Phoenix strikes a compelling balance between economic vitality and livability for growing families. Despite the cost of living nudging above the national average per BestPlaces, competitive wages help offset higher housing and transportation costs.

Job opportunities are everywhere, across flourishing sectors like finance, healthcare and technology. From 2015 to 2020, employment expanded 13% locally against 3.1% nationally. This dynamism translates to enviable job prospects, with unemployment dipping below the national rate at 3.4%.

Amid this boom, median Phoenix home values for the region are $455,000 after appreciating nearly 14% last year. Sale prices per square foot also continue rising, signaling room for ongoing growth for families looking at new homes in Phoenix.

When it comes to education, levels of attainment reflect diverse representation across Phoenix. Nearly half of recent high school graduates pursue postsecondary programs, supporting a well-trained talent pipeline. Arizona also dedicates substantial resources to vocational training and workforce development statewide.

Phoenix's wealth of amenities and attractions further buoys its appeal for families. Many child-friendly entertainment options exist, from the Children's Museum of Phoenix and the Phoenix Zoo to various parks, gardens and preserves. The area is also perfect for outdoor recreation, with superb winter weather beckoning residents to local trails and nature sights.

San Antonio, TX

San Antonio offers an ultra-affordable lifestyle to growing families. The cost of living is 8% below the national average, and housing is a budget-friendly 20% lower than typical U.S. levels. Grocery, utility and transportation expenses are also significantly lower than average.

Median home values currently sit at $265,000, dipping slightly over the past year while sale prices per square foot hold steady. This data spells an opportunity for any would-be San Antonio homebuyers hoping to capitalize on softening prices before the next upcycle.

Flush with openings across industries from aerospace to bioscience to finance, the region's unemployment rate bests national benchmarks, and major employers like Valero, Toyota and H-E-B cement economic stability. In 2022, over 44,000 jobs were added to the San Antonio metro area; from February 2023 to March 2024, 29,400 jobs were added to the San Antonio Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA).

On the education front, local districts are reinventing academic programs to serve today's student population better. New specialized campuses, curriculum innovations and school-of-choice options demonstrate the adaptability supporting students' need-based learning.

Beyond the encouraging statistics, many cultural attractions captivate visitors with family appeal. The famed River Walk intertwines vibrant restaurants and entertainment venues along its banks. Attractions like the Alamo and the UNESCO San Antonio Missions National Historical Park give residents and visitors an immersive historical experience. Amenities from the San Antonio Zoo to Yanaguana Garden translate education into adventure for young ones.

Birmingham, AL

Known as an industrial hub of the South, Birmingham may surprise you with its unrivaled affordability and enviable quality of life. The overall cost of living here is 8% lower than the national average, boosted by housing expenses running at a 20% discount compared to typical U.S. cities. Competitively priced groceries, utilities and transportation are built on this budget-friendly nature.

Unemployment has also hit recent record lows (tying Miami for the lowest in the county), while hiring is driven by diverse sectors, from manufacturing to finance to healthcare. Last year, the Birmingham metro area was ranked fourth in the U.S. for job growth.

These economic advantages translate to attainable homeownership, with median sale prices around $180,000. Rates per square foot are also cheaper than in other metros, allowing buyers to maximize space for their dollar. Inventory, meanwhile, is climbing, thanks in part to a surge in new construction homes in Birmingham.

Recent educational investments have also paid dividends with marked increases in graduation rates and college and career readiness. Per-pupil spending has recently increased as schools pilot inventive programs catering to Birmingham's modern student body.

Birmingham is also home to plentiful attractions. The McWane Science Center delights young minds with interactive exhibits and programming focused on science, technology and innovation. The beloved Birmingham Zoo entertains families with its expansive exotic species and habitat collection. Venues like Railroad Park and Red Mountain Park encourage outdoor recreation amid gorgeous natural landscapes.


Find Your Perfect Home in an Affordable City for Growing Families

The metro areas showcased here represent the nation's most compelling destinations for families, given their winning formula of balancing economy and livability. With housing inventory constraints plaguing much of the country, these cities stand out for blending thriving job markets with relatively affordable single-family stock and ample amenities catering to young parents.

Across the South, Midwest and West, areas like Raleigh, Minneapolis and San Antonio offer budgetary respite without sacrificing lifestyle. Competitive school systems, flourishing dining and arts scenes, outdoor recreation and child-friendly sights enrich families' daily lives in these cities. These locales tick all boxes at reasonable prices for couples launching careers or looking to put down roots.

LGI Homes operates in many of the dynamic yet affordable cities featured here. Our move-in-ready homes come with favorable financing offers, paid closing costs in select communities, and upgraded features included as standard.

Start searching for your perfect home with our interactive map and learn more about how our high-quality, affordable properties support household formation journeys across America's most family-friendly metro areas.

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