It's good to have a place to call home, but it's better to have a home to call your own in some of America's best real estate markets. Entering these markets can sometimes be challenging; the many factors that make these markets desirable have given most of these cities a high ratio of home price to median income. Once you are a homeowner, however, the strong appreciation rates of homes in these cities will turn your home into a valuable investment.
To create our 2015 list of the best places to buy real estate in America, we factored in home appreciation rates as well as the affordability of a particular market by comparing the median household income to the median home price in the city. These numbers were then compared to averages across states and the nation, focusing on cities with 200,000 or more residents.
- 1. San Francisco, CA
Beautiful views, a booming technology industry and mild weather are just some of the many features that draw people to San Francisco, California. The real estate market in this diverse city is red hot; the median home price is $750,900, almost double the median home price in the state of California, but worth every penny. San Francisco's healthy home prices reflect the ease with which homeowners can find a buyer for their property and the ever growing job market. San Francisco's ratio of home price to median income is higher than the national average, however the high appreciation rates will more than make up for it in the long run. Learn more about San Francisco, CA housing.
- 2. Irvine, CA
Irvine, California, is a sunny city with plentiful parks and an economy built on a diverse foundation of multiple industries, including video game development, tourism and film projects. The median price for a home is $646,500, almost $300,000 over the median home price in California. Despite high housing values, home ownership isn't significantly harder for Irvine's residents compared to the rest of the state. The city's strong average earnings give Irvine a housing to income ratio of 7. Learn more about Irvine, CA housing.
- 3. Fremont, CA
Fremont is the third California city on our list. The city is close to San Francisco and the rest of Silicon Valley, which helps to explain the strong real estate market in the city. The median cost for a home in Fremont is $605,100. Typically, Fremont will also enjoy a much lower cost per square foot than other larger cities. Fremont's strong employment market is starting to catch up with the affordability of its housing market; its housing to income ratio is just 6, which is lower than the California average. Learn more about Fremont, CA housing.
- 4. Arlington, VA
With the nation's capital as its neighbor, it's no wonder that Arlington, Virginia, is a popular place to live. Many government agencies are based in Arlington, and the city's low crime rate makes it an attractive alternative to Washington, D.C., for families looking to put down roots. Arlington's median home price is $577,300 and real estate in the city has enjoyed solid appreciation rates over the last few years. The city's housing price to income ratio is just over 5, a reflection on the strong earnings that its residents bring home. Learn more about Arlington, VA housing.
- 5. San Jose, CA
As another city affected by the monumental growth of Silicon Valley, San Jose is a tightly packed city with a top real estate market. Residents who want to a buy a home can expect a median home price of $575,100. Almost 60% of dwellings are occupied by the owner, and the average household size is 3.1 people. As with many of the other cities on this list, San Jose's solid housing market is a draw for many people, driving up the average cost of a home in comparison to its average earnings; its housing to income ratio is just over 7. Learn more about San Jose, CA housing.
- 6. Honolulu, HI
Living in a house on a tropical island may be the ultimate dream for those who love beaches, palm trees and relaxation. In Honolulu, Hawaii, owning that dream will cost about $547,600. In other parts of the island state, the median house price can be cheaper, but appreciation rates are typically higher in Honolulu. The one downfall is Hawaii does suffer from a higher cost of living due to its remote location. Honolulu's income to home price ratio is also on the high side, but it's a small price to pay for 365 days of sunshine and the peace of mind that you've made a solid real estate investment. Learn more about Honolulu, HI housing.
- 7. New York, NY
New York City is a city without comparison, with its famous Central Park, thriving art districts and constant rush of people hurrying to get to the next Broadway production. Claiming a slice of this international city can be costly. The median home price in the city is just over half a million and can climb much higher than that in Manhattan. However, since the housing rebound, New York has enjoyed some of the highest appreciation rates in the country. New York's income to home price ratio is slightly higher than the national average, but so too are the appreciation rates. Learn more about New York, NY housing.
- 8. Los Angeles, CA
On the other side of the country, far from New York City, sits the City of Angels. Los Angeles, California, is the home of Hollywood, sandy beaches and a bustling international community. The median price of a home in Los Angeles is $470,000, and the average household size is 2.9 people. Although Los Angeles' homes aren't as expensive as homes in San Francisco, median household income is also lower. Keep in mind though, some areas of Los Angeles have seen some of the highest appreciation rates in the country over the last 3-4 years. Learn more about Los Angeles, CA housing.
- 9. San Diego, CA
San Diego, California offers some of the same perks of living found in other California cities on this list, but the city offers a slightly more affordable price tag and some of the best weather in the country. The median cost of a home in San Diego is $451,800, a significant difference compared to San Francisco and Irvine. In comparison to the city's median income, homes are also more affordable; San Diego's ratio is 7, making homes significantly easier for the average resident to afford. Learn more about San Diego, CA housing.
- 10. Washington, DC
Washington, D.C., has served as the capital of the United States since 1790 and is the home of many important government employees and agencies, including the president of the country. The size of the average household in Washington, D.C., is 2.2 people. Although the White House is never on the market, families can still find a place to live in this dense city; the median house price in Washington, D.C., is an affordable $443,000, and its ratio of housing prices to income is under 7. Learn more about Washington, DC housing.
You can refer to the Best Places to Live report for real-time, up-to-date and interactive top 100 best and worst list of cities. The results are sortable, and it allows you to filter by the population as well as your preferred state.