WRITTEN BY JAYMI NACIRI
If you’re looking for the perfect place to buy your first home, you’re likely overwhelmed with the “what,” “where,” and “when.” Many places across the country have seen growth that has pushed prices far beyond what a typical first-time buyer can handle. But that hasn’t stopped them from getting into the market.
“Buying a home for the first time is an exciting and important milestone for many Americans,” said WalletHub. “Their purchases make up a sizable chunk of the market, too. In 2017, 38% of all U.S. single-family home purchases were made by first-time buyers.”
So where should you be looking if it’s time for you to put an end to rent? WalletHub’s new list of “Best & Worst Cities for First-Time Home Buyers” can help.
“WalletHub compared 300 cities of varying sizes across 27 key indicators of market attractiveness, affordability and quality of life,” they said. “Our data set ranges from cost of living to real-estate taxes to property-crime rate.”
Beyond their overall score based on an affordability rank, a real estate market rank, and a quality of life rank, we’re looking at their top five and further breaking down the pros and cons of living there.
No. 1: Broken Arrow, OK
Pros: “Broken Arrow offers both small-town charm and big-city amenities” since it’s close to Tulsa, said Livability. “Some of Oklahoma’s most scenic natural areas surround the community, making it a top spot for outdoor activities, while its cultural attractions draw people seeking arts and entertainment, especially in downtown’s Rose District. Broken Arrow also includes a thriving business climate, three renowned hospitals, and excellent public and private schools.”
Cons: Potential for tornados and earthquakes, the latter attributed to aggressive fracking. High sales tax – Oklahoma’s average tax rate of 8.72 percent is the fifth-highest in the nation, according to the Tax Foundation. It’s 8.417 percent in Broken Arrow.
No. 2: Tampa, FL
Pros: Tampa oozes charm with historic neighborhoods you might not find in other first-time buyer cities. Their overall real estate market rank by WalletHub is No. 4. There is always something to do, with tons of ongoing activities, festivals, and special events. There’s no state income tax and property tax is also incredibly low, at two percent. If you’re a sports fan, you’ll also love the fact that there are four professional sports teams in Tampa.
Cons: “Common complaints include a relatively flat landscape and streets that are lined with a multitude of chain retail plazas,” said Life Storage. “Traffic can also be a nightmare. As the lightning capital, you can expect daily thunderstorms throughout the summer, and you’ll most certainly want a hurricane emergency plan.”
No. 3: Centennial, CO
Pros: Mountains! A lovey downtown! Arts, culture, and recreation! And friendly people to boot.
Cons: “Compared to the rest of the country, Centennial’s cost of living is 35 percent higher than the U.S. average,” said Best Places. And while homes are still more affordable than in many places in the country, the growth of the area continues to push them up. That growth also means more and more people discovering the area, and more traffic on the roads. If you’re looking for a private, serene retreat near the mountains, this isn’t it.
No. 4: Boise, ID
Pros: If you’re looking for open space and beautiful scenery, with great access to recreation (Hello, Greenbelt!), you’ll find it here – despite the ongoing growth.
Cons: Winter weather. Lack of a professional sports team (Get used to rooting for Boise State University!). Slower pace – a “pro” for many, but a fact of life that might be harder to embrace for someone craving the vibrancy of big-city life. And a low real estate market rank of 169 by WalletHub.
No. 5: Grand Rapids, MI
Pros: Access to water. If the idea of being landlocked in some of the other cities on the WalletHub list has you in a panic, Grand Rapids could be a possibility since it’s under an hour from Lake Michigan. Low traffic. The list ranks quality of life at No. 142, but if you love beer, you’re in luck because there are great breweries in town (The city even won USA Today’s Best Beer Town poll.).
Cons: If you don’t love cold weather, don’t even think about it. Winters can be brutal. There’s also a notable lack of walkability unless you’re in downtown.