U.S. Cities With the Most (and Least) Expensive Homes

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Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on Porch.

Housing affordability has been a major topic of concern for researchers and policymakers in recent years. Access to affordable, quality housing is associated with a variety of positive economic and social outcomes, which makes it an important tool to encourage families to thrive.

But historically, affordable housing has been out of reach for many. Low-income populations and racial and ethnic minorities are often excluded from the wealth-building benefits of homeownership. People who rent are far more likely to be cost-burdened by housing, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. And whenever income grows slowly—as it has recently for certain groups—housing affordability becomes even more of a challenge.

Fortunately, some data suggests that affordability has improved nationwide over the past decade. One of the key indicators that housing experts consider when evaluating affordability in the market is the share of households spending at least 30% of their income on housing. According to data from the American Community Survey, the last decade has shown positive trends on this measure. In 2010, with the U.S. still confronting the effects of the Great Recession, nearly 37% of households were spending above that threshold, but the number has declined since and dipped below 30% in 2019.

But despite the decline in the number of households spending above the 30% threshold, home prices have been on the rise in recent years, which could have implications on affordability for some populations. After the sharp drops in home values during the last recession, prices turned upward and continued to grow as the economy recovered to full strength, increasing by nearly 45% over the last five years. And notably, prices continued to rise from 2020 to 2021—nearly 20% year over year—despite the economic disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic, thanks to record low inventory and increased demand. As prices increase, it will be worth watching whether the positive trends in housing expenditures continue. While homeowners are benefiting from the boom, those with lower incomes have borne the worst economic consequences of the pandemic and may be particularly squeezed as rent and housing prices continue to rise.

Of course, it is also the case that trends in real estate prices are highly dependent on local market characteristics, and some markets are far less affordable than others. At the state level, Hawaii tops all others for median list price, with a typical price of $1,140,723 for a 2,000-square-foot home. This is largely due to its geographic isolation, which makes it more expensive to source building materials, and its limited land area, which makes it harder to increase the supply of housing stock. Other pricey states like California, Massachusetts, and Washington have their prices driven by high demand in red-hot markets like the Bay Area and Los Angeles, Boston, and Seattle, respectively. At the other end of the spectrum, less-expensive markets tend to be found in parts of the South and Midwest where demand is lower and supply is less constrained.

Large metros with the most expensive homes

Down payment on a house
godshutter / Shutterstock.com

To find the areas with the most and least expensive homes and apartments, researchers at Porch used data from Realtor.com and ranked metropolitan areas by the typical price of a 2,000 square foot home. The researchers also analyzed data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis to determine the monthly price of a two-bedroom apartment and relative cost of living in each location.

Keep reading to see the large metropolitan areas (population 1 million or more) with the most — and least — expensive homes. Up first are those with the most expensive homes.

1. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA

Homes in San Jose, California
pbk-pg / Shutterstock.com
  • Price for a 2,000-square-foot home: $1,568,676
  • Median list price: $1,228,400
  • Median price per square foot: $784.34
  • Monthly price for a 2-bedroom apartment: $3,181
  • Overall cost of living (compared to national average): +26.7%

2. San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, CA

San Francisco neighborhood.
Bertl123 / Shutterstock.com
  • Price for a 2,000-square-foot home: $1,389,928
  • Median list price: $1,020,444
  • Median price per square foot: $694.96
  • Monthly price for a 2-bedroom apartment: $3,072
  • Overall cost of living (compared to national average): +34.5%

3. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA

Long Beach California homes
L.A. Nature Graphics / Shutterstock.com
  • Price for a 2,000-square-foot home: $1,230,631
  • Median list price: $1,184,500
  • Median price per square foot: $615.32
  • Monthly price for a 2-bedroom apartment: $2,302
  • Overall cost of living (compared to national average): +18.8%

4. San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad, CA

San Diego
bonandbon / Shutterstock.com
  • Price for a 2,000-square-foot home: $1,025,118
  • Median list price: $877,495
  • Median price per square foot: $512.56
  • Monthly price for a 2-bedroom apartment: $2,254
  • Overall cost of living (compared to national average): +17.9%

5. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA

Seattle house neighborhood
Frank Fell Media / Shutterstock.com
  • Price for a 2,000-square-foot home: $876,477
  • Median list price: $672,386
  • Median price per square foot: $438.24
  • Monthly price for a 2-bedroom apartment: $1,962
  • Overall cost of living (compared to national average): +14.5%

6. Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH

Boston, Massachusetts
Sunny Chanruangvanich / Shutterstock.com
  • Price for a 2,000-square-foot home: $811,991
  • Median list price: $692,500
  • Median price per square foot: $406.00
  • Monthly price for a 2-bedroom apartment: $2,233
  • Overall cost of living (compared to national average): +15.5%

7. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV

Roman Babakin / Shutterstock.com
  • Price for a 2,000-square-foot home: $629,582
  • Median list price: $499,900
  • Median price per square foot: $314.79
  • Monthly price for a 2-bedroom apartment: $1,891
  • Overall cost of living (compared to national average): +17.4%

8. Sacramento-Roseville-Folsom, CA

Home in Sacramento, California
Victoria Ditkovsky / Shutterstock.com
  • Price for a 2,000-square-foot home: $625,850
  • Median list price: $589,000
  • Median price per square foot: $312.93
  • Monthly price for a 2-bedroom apartment: $1,610
  • Overall cost of living (compared to national average): +5.2%

9. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL

Miami, Florida homes
Blue Rhino Media / Shutterstock.com
  • Price for a 2,000-square-foot home: $601,242
  • Median list price: $399,450
  • Median price per square foot: $300.62
  • Monthly price for a 2-bedroom apartment: $1,644
  • Overall cost of living (compared to national average): +11.7%

10. Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA

pikappa51 / Shutterstock.com
  • Price for a 2,000-square-foot home: $575,306
  • Median list price: $527,250
  • Median price per square foot: $287.65
  • Monthly price for a 2-bedroom apartment: $1,620
  • Overall cost of living (compared to national average): +5.0%

Large metros with the least expensive homes

woman in front of home
Andriy Blokhin / Shutterstock.com

On the other end of the spectrum, the following large metro areas have the least expensive homes in the country.

1. Cleveland-Elyria, OH

Michael T Hartman / Shutterstock.com
  • Price for a 2,000-square-foot home: $213,696
  • Median list price: $209,950
  • Median price per square foot: $106.85
  • Monthly price for a 2-bedroom apartment: $925
  • Overall cost of living (compared to national average): -10.1%

2. Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN

winter scene homes in Indianapolis, Indiana
Ted Alexander Somerville / Shutterstock.com
  • Price for a 2,000-square-foot home: $257,679
  • Median list price: $283,607
  • Median price per square foot: $128.84
  • Monthly price for a 2-bedroom apartment: $993
  • Overall cost of living (compared to national average): -8.9%

3. Birmingham-Hoover, AL

Birmingham Alabama home
Carolyn May Wright / Shutterstock.com
  • Price for a 2,000-square-foot home: $260,975
  • Median list price: $269,950
  • Median price per square foot: $130.49
  • Monthly price for a 2-bedroom apartment: $1,081
  • Overall cost of living (compared to national average): -11.7%

4. St. Louis, MO-IL

Homes in St. Louis Missouri
Rob Neville Photos / Shutterstock.com
  • Price for a 2,000-square-foot home: $282,018
  • Median list price: $261,400
  • Median price per square foot: $141.01
  • Monthly price for a 2-bedroom apartment: $1,000
  • Overall cost of living (compared to national average): -9.9%

5. Buffalo-Cheektowaga, NY

Buffalo New York homes
Richard Cavalleri / Shutterstock.com
  • Price for a 2,000-square-foot home: $283,832
  • Median list price: $249,900
  • Median price per square foot: $141.92
  • Monthly price for a 2-bedroom apartment: $982
  • Overall cost of living (compared to national average): -5.5%

6. Oklahoma City, OK

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma traffic highways
Gerson Repreza / Shutterstock.com
  • Price for a 2,000-square-foot home: $288,927
  • Median list price: $301,050
  • Median price per square foot: $144.46
  • Monthly price for a 2-bedroom apartment: $962
  • Overall cost of living (compared to national average): -10.2%

7. Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN

A historic district of Louisville, Kentucky
Philip Rozenski / Shutterstock.com
  • Price for a 2,000-square-foot home: $294,673
  • Median list price: $262,450
  • Median price per square foot: $147.34
  • Monthly price for a 2-bedroom apartment: $972
  • Overall cost of living (compared to national average): -10.4%

8. Rochester, NY

Rochester, New York
Sirichai netthong / Shutterstock.com
  • Price for a 2,000-square-foot home: $305,362
  • Median list price: $293,400
  • Median price per square foot: $152.68
  • Monthly price for a 2-bedroom apartment: $1,065
  • Overall cost of living (compared to national average): -2.9%

9. Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX

Houston homes neighborhood
Stephanie A Sellers / Shutterstock.com
  • Price for a 2,000-square-foot home: $313,947
  • Median list price: $340,624
  • Median price per square foot: $157.00
  • Monthly price for a 2-bedroom apartment: $1,258
  • Overall cost of living (compared to national average): +1.7%

10. San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX

San Antonio, Texas home
Natalia Silyanov / Shutterstock.com
  • Price for a 2,000-square-foot home: $325,376
  • Median list price: $312,500
  • Median price per square foot: $162.69
  • Monthly price for a 2-bedroom apartment: $1,191
  • Overall cost of living (compared to national average): -6.7%

Detailed findings & methodology

Happy couple buying a home in a new city
Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock.com

The data used in this analysis is from Realtor.com’s Real Estate Data: Inventory-Monthly, the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis Regional Price Parity dataset, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) 50th Percentile Rent Estimates. To determine the locations where homes and apartments are the most expensive, researchers ranked locations by the price for a 2,000 square foot home. This was calculated using Realtor’s median cost per square foot. In the event of a tie, Realtor’s median listing price was used.

To determine the monthly price for a two-bedroom apartment, researchers aggregated county-level data from HUD. Overall cost of living (compared to the national average) was determined from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis Regional Price Parities dataset.

Due to data availability issues, certain metropolitan areas and states were not included in the analysis. To improve relevance, only remaining metropolitan areas with at least 100,000 residents were included. Additionally, metros were grouped into cohorts based on population size: small (100,000–349,999), midsize (350,000–999,999), and large (1 million or more).

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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