The 10 Most Affordable Cities For Millennials to Buy a Home

Owning a home is a hallmark of American life. People often chase the ideal of having a house, a vehicle and a grill they can use during cookouts with friendly neighbors. There’s just one problem, according to Zillow home prices have been rising steadily since 2012, with many buyers also held back by stricter lending standards in the market since the housing crash in 2007.

It means that for many Millennials in America, owning a home feels like a far-off dream.

But Credit Karma data from the portion of our 40 million plus member base that have a mortgage (used as a proxy for national property values) shows there are some cities where Millennials might be more likely to be able to afford homes. We compared how much a Millennial might expect to make if they work in a particular city and the current average dollar amount for a mortgage in the same area, to see how long it would take someone to pay off their mortgage. We discounted the median Millennial salary in each place by the citywide unemployment rate to factor in how local economic factors can impact home buying decisions.

The data favors Rustbelt cities strongly, and shows a large gap between how long it could take to pay off a mortgage in the most and least affordable cities: the average Millennial in Buffalo, NY might expect to pay off their mortgage in 107.4 months (8.95 years); those living in Los Angeles, CA could be paying theirs in as many as 534.2 months. That’s 44.5 years!

Check out the full list of the 10 most affordable cities for Millennials looking to buy homes below (by average months to pay off a mortgage in that city):

  1. Buffalo, NY, 107.4 months
  2. Detroit, MI, 110.5 months
  3. Cleveland, OH, 117.2 months
  4. Toledo, OH, 123.2 months
  5. Pittsburgh, PA, 143.8 months
  6. Garland, TX, 144.6 months
  7. Fort Wayne, IN, 146.3 months
  8. Indianapolis, IN, 149.4 months
  9. Memphis, TN, 152.7 months
  10. Milwaukee, WI, 153.6 months

This list is an approximation of affordability created using publicly available US Census information and information from more than 6 million Credit Karma members who live in America’s 100 largest cities and have mortgages. It should not be seen as an exact guide to how long it will take to pay off a mortgage in any given city.

The data assesses how quickly 18-34 year-olds could pay off their mortgages, presuming they paid 28% of their incomes (the bank recommended limit) toward them. The calculation looks at the average size of open mortgages – one that a Credit Karma member is actively paying off – among our more than 40 million members living in the 100 largest cities in the country, taking into account the median income by city for 18-34 year-olds, according to the US Census, adjusted by the local unemployment rate for all working adults.