If you’re looking to buy a home, you better be ready to spend a huge chunk of money. In the U.S., the median list price of homes is a gulp-inducing $255,990. Sale prices that high require a significant down payment, and you can’t get preapproved for a mortgage unless you have a high salary, too.
But while many homes sell for a quarter of a million dollars or more, it’s possible to find cheap houses for sale. If you’re willing to negotiate a little on location, you can buy a home for much less.
Cheap houses for sale
Buying a house above your budget can be tempting, but it can hurt your finances for decades to come. Being “house poor” — where you overextend your budget to buy a pricier home — can cause you a great deal of stress and force you to cut back on other important financial goals, such as saving for retirement or repaying student loans.
If you bought a home at the median price of $255,990 and wanted to avoid paying private mortgage insurance, you’d need to put down a 20 percent down payment (more than $50,000) in one lump sum.
However, if you instead looked for a more modest home or shopped in a less desirable neighborhood, you could save a lot of money.
If you bought a $150,000 home, you’d need just $30,000 for your down payment. A more affordable home is much less of a strain on both your finances and your stress levels.
If you’re home shopping and don’t know where to start, here are five cities where you can buy a single-family home for $150,000 or less, using data from Kiplinger.
1. Tampa, Fla.
If you’re looking for an affordable home in a warm climate, Tampa could be for you. The median sale price in the area is just $140,400, and the cost of living is slightly lower than the national average, reported Forbes.
The region’s economy is booming; recent job growth was 3.4 percent. That means you might have an easier time starting your career. And if you love the sand and water, there are multiple beaches within an hour’s drive.
There are many lower-cost homes in the area. This adorable home in Tampa has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and nearly 1,500 square feet of living space. With laminate floors throughout and a nice fenced backyard, you could be the lucky new owner for just $119,900.
2. Augusta, Ga.
Augusta is Georgia’s second oldest city, full of many historical landmarks. With a mild climate — the average temperature is a temperate 63 degrees — it’s a beautiful area to call home.
Over the past few years, the unemployment rate in Augusta has dropped dramatically as the local economy improves. With a median home sale price of $110,000, it can be a great place to build your career or start a family.
You can get more bang for your buck in Augusta than you would in nearby cities like Atlanta. For example, this updated home is just $135,000 and has stainless steel appliances, hardwood floors, updated bathrooms, and a covered back patio.
You’re also not far from Savannah or Atlanta. If you’re a history geek or are looking for a city atmosphere, both are close enough for a weekend trip.
3. Buffalo, N.Y.
Living in Buffalo is an entirely different experience than living in New York City. Just a short drive away from Niagara Falls, the city is full of tourist-friendly restaurants and unique attractions. Best of all, there are many cheap homes for sale.
If you work in financial services, health care, retail, or in the nonprofit realm, Buffalo could be a good place for your career. Major companies such as Blue Cross Blue Shield and the United Memorial Medical Center call this city home.
Want a home with old-world charm and history? Buffalo might be the perfect place for you. Many of the houses are over 100 years old, with plenty of character and architectural details. Because the median sale price is $110,000, a historic building could be within your budget.
This 1,447-square-foot home combines vintage looks with modern amenities. It has stained glass windows and an updated kitchen — all for $139,900.
4. Dallas, Texas
Dallas has a strong economy. It has a lower unemployment rate than the national average of 4.3 percent, so it might be easier to find a job if you relocate here. In addition, the median sale price for homes in Dallas is $129,700, and you can get a lot more land for your money than in other areas.
Dallas isn’t all cowboy boots and big hats, either. The city has a growing nightlife scene, too. There are new restaurants, breweries, and nightclubs that people of every age can enjoy.
At $149,900, this house just makes the list — but it’s worth the price. The beautiful stone-front home is on a half-acre lot, so you have plenty of room for a pool, vegetable garden, or play area for your kids.
5. Scranton, Pa.
Although the company Dunder-Mifflin from “The Office” isn’t real, Scranton is still a great place to live.
Just two hours from Philadelphia, Scranton’s cost of living is much lower than that of the City of Brotherly Love. If you made $50,000 while working in Philadelphia and relocated to Scranton, you’d need a salary of just $41,764 to maintain the same living standard.
You can get a lot more house for your money if you’re willing to move away from the city. The median sale price in Philadelphia is $252,800. In Scranton, it’s $104,500.
There aren’t many places where you can get over 2,500 square feet of living space for under $120,000, but Scranton is one of them.
This classic Cape Cod-style home, a roomy 2,600 square feet with granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances, is listed at a budget-friendly $116,000. Qualified buyers could have a mortgage payment of just $431, according to the Zillow mortgage calculator, leaving you plenty of money to spend elsewhere.
Close to both Philadelphia and New York City, there’s plenty of opportunities to enjoy city culture and entertainment.
Shopping for a home
Buying your first house can be a stressful and expensive process. But by keeping an open mind and checking out new areas, you can find a perfect home that’s well within your budget. There are plenty of cheap houses for sale that can fit your needs.
If you’re thinking about buying a home but are worried about your existing debt, learn about purchasing a house with student loans.