A recent analysis by MoneyGeek aimed to determine which “desirable” parts of the U.S. are still affordable to would-be homebuyers. According to their criteria, no counties in California make the cut.
To qualify as “affordable,” the estimated monthly home ownership cost in a county – including mortgage, property taxes, insurance, etc. – had to be under 50% of the area’s monthly median income. That means the average county resident buying the average-priced house would be spending anywhere from 34% to 49% of their income on housing costs.
MoneyGeek deemed a county to be “desirable” if its population is growing faster than the national average and its home values are still appreciating. The analysis also left out especially small or sparsely populated counties – all of those included have populations larger than 250,000, making them reasonably sized metro areas.
Not a single California county met their criteria, MoneyGeek told Nexstar. There are a few that come close, however. San Joaquin, Riverside, Placer and Yolo counties are the four areas in California that count as “runners-up,” a MoneyGeek spokesperson said.
The Western U.S. doesn’t make any appearances on the list of 20 most affordable and desirable counties, which is dominated by states in the Southeast.
MoneyGeek’s list of 20 most affordable and desirable counties is below:
|County||Nearby metro area||Median income||Median home price|
|1||Clayton County, Georgia||Greater Atlanta||$30,502||$185,811|
|2||Cumberland County, Pennsylvania||Greater Harrisburg||$40,909||$257,744|
|3||Lexington County, South Carolina||Columbia||$36,899||$206,726|
|4||Madison County, Alabama||Huntsville||$38,327||$263,726|
|5||Marion County, Florida||Ocala||$30,606||$218,548|
|6||Hidalgo County, Texas||McAllen||$22,506||$112,030|
|7||Oklahoma County, Oklahoma||Oklahoma City||$35,151||$200,321|
|8||Benton County, Arkansas||Greater Fayetteville||$37,496||$270,864|
|9||Escambia County, Florida||Greater Pensacola||$30,751||$228,537|
|10||Tulsa County, Oklahoma||Tulsa||$34,896||$205,364|
|11||Spartanburg County, South Carolina||Spartanburg||$32,398||$205,940|
|12||St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana||Greater New Orleans||$37,211||$271,488|
|13||Pasco County, Florida||Greater Tampa||$34,974||$261,644|
|14||Lubbock County, Texas||Lubbock||$29,179||$186,302|
|15||Forsyth County, North Carolina||Winston-Salem||$31,769||$215,172|
|16||Douglas County, Nebraska||Greater Omaha||$39,918||$231,908|
|17||Greenville County, South Carolina||Greater Greenville||$35,725||$268,888|
|18||Richland County, South Carolina||Columbia||$30,753||$215,917|
|19||Webb County, Texas||Laredo||$27,185||$163,199|
|20||Knox County, Tennessee||Knoxville||$34,383||$270,117|
Earlier this year, Merced and Sacramento counties joined a list of “newly unaffordable” counties for homeownership. Prices there have skyrocketed since 2019, the analysis found.
What’s been driving sky-high housing prices? It’s complex, MoneyGeek’s analysts said. “The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated labor shortages and supply chain delays, which led to slower residential home construction. As a result, home prices skyrocketed, leading to higher mortgage payments and home insurance costs on newly purchased properties.”
The increase in remote work also led more people to seek big homes in smaller cities, driving up home prices in places that weren’t as popular before the pandemic.