has been analyzing a ton of data — including median home prices, rental rates and median incomes — and says these are the top 20 cities offering affordable homes and good jobs.

We count them down to Realtor's top pick for livability and opportunity.

20. Richmond, Virginia

Early spring neighborhood in Richmond, Virginia-refurbished homes, trees, plants, flowers, lawns and sidewalk. Horizontal.
vincent noel / Shutterstock
Richmond has many attractive neighborhoods with reasonable home prices.
  • Median list price for a home: $319,950
  • Median household income: $66,191

As Virginia's capital city, Richmond obviously offers positions in state government, but private companies have loads of jobs here, too. The local unemployment rate recently sank to an 11-year low of 3%.

The region's largest private employer is the credit cards giant Capital One. Tobacco company Altria Group (maker of Marlboro) is based here, and so is the used-car retailer CarMax.

Richmond's home prices are heating up, but still reasonable. They jumped 7% during the year that ended in August, and that was after surging 9% during the previous one-year period.

19. St. Louis

City of St. Louis skyline. Image of St. Louis downtown  at twilight.
f11photo / Shutterstock
The Gateway Arch dominates the landscape in St. Louis.
  • Median list price for a home: $209,950
  • Median household income: $62,531

In St. Louis, they might want to think about hanging a "Help Wanted" sign on the Gateway Arch. Unemployment in the metro area has dropped to 3.4%, the lowest in 18 years.

The region added nearly 13,000 jobs over the year that ended in August, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Boeing's St. Louis plant recently signed new contracts to build military aircraft and provide hundreds of new jobs. The largest local employer is BJC HealthCare.

Home prices rose 6.7% from spring of 2017 to spring of this year but are still modestly priced. You can buy a 1,200-square-foot condo downtown for about $178,000, or in the suburbs for just $127,000, reports living-costs website Numbeo.

18. Columbus, Ohio

German Village, just south of downtown Columbus, Ohio, is known for beautiful brick homes and lush gardens
aceshot1 / Shutterstock
German Village, south of downtown Columbus, is known for its beautiful brick homes.
  • Median list price for a home: $249,950
  • Median household income: $63,009

Ohio's capital city is dominated by Ohio State University (Go Bucks!) and state government, but they're not the only games in town for job seekers.

The area's largest private employer is banking powerhouse JPMorgan Chase, with a massive workforce of more than 20,000. Insurance company Nationwide is based here, and so is burger chain Wendy's. The region's 3.8% unemployment rate is the lowest in Ohio.

Columbus has many charming, historic neighborhoods with gorgeous homes that aren't crazy-expensive. They include Merion Village, where the average sale price last year was about $268,000, reports Forbes.

17. Omaha, Nebraska

Sunrise and the city skyline reflected in the river
Christopher Boswell / Shutterstock
Omaha has jobs, inexpensive housing -- and Warren Buffett.
  • Median list price for a home: $289,050
  • Median household income: $65,490

How do we know Omaha is a great place to live? Because Warren Buffett — one of the richest men on Earth, who could live anywhere on the planet — has chosen to remain in Omaha, his hometown.

Besides Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, other Fortune 500 companies based here include Union Pacific (railroad), Kiewit Corp. (construction) and Mutual of Omaha (insurance). Finding a job is no problem: The area's unemployment rate has fallen to just 2.7%.

Home prices in the area have jumped 8.5% in the last year but remain fairly unexpensive. In the suburbs, the average cost of a 2,000-square-foot home is under $275,000, says Numbeo.

16. Sioux Falls, South Dakota

The falls that give their name to the city - Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
photo.eccles / Shutterstock
Sioux Falls lives up to its name.
  • Median list price for a home: $234,950
  • Median household income: $65,490

South Dakota's largest city is getting bigger all the time, thanks to its bustling job market and cheap real estate.

Unemployment in fast-growing Sioux Falls has plummeted to an unbelievably low 2.3%. Major employers include: health care providers Sanford Health and Avera Health; meat processor Smithfield Foods; and banking behemoths Wells Fargo and Citi.

While still very affordable, the area's home prices have skyrocketed 9.6% in the last year.

15. Anchorage, Alaska

colorful wooden turquoise house in Anchorage, Alaska, USA
O.C Ritz / Shutterstock
The housing in Anchorage can be quite colorful.
  • Median list price for a home: $305,050
  • Median household income: $85,266

Anchorage is Alaska's biggest city and its center for industry and jobs. Work is available in health care, tourism, government — and of course, energy (oil and gas).

Living costs are higher in Anchorage than in many of the other cities on this list, but salaries are higher, too. The metro area's 5.4% unemployment rate is relatively high, but down from a year ago.

You can buy a three-bedroom house in the suburbs for under $330,000 or a two-bedroom downtown condo for $179,000.

14. Des Moines, Iowa

Des Moines, Iowa - JULY 16: Downtown Des Moines at dawn from the University Avenue bridge on July 16, 2016 in Des Moines, Iowa
Nagel Photography / Shutterstock
Living costs and home prices in Des Moines are below the national avderage.
  • Median list price for a home: $292,950
  • Median household income: $67,375

The largest city in Iowa is also its capital, offering jobs in state government and at Iowa State University, about 30 miles outside of town. But Des Moines' largest local employer is Wells Fargo, with 14,500 workers in the metro area.

You'll find good job prospects in Des Moines, because the local unemployment rate has fallen to 2.3% — one of the lowest in the U.S.

Housing prices have gone up 7.6% in the last year but are still very attractive. You can buy a modern one-bedroom loft condo downtown for $185,000 or a new three-bedroom house in suburban West Des Moines for about $280,000.

13. Lafayette-West Lafayette, Indiana

View of the fountain in the campus of Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana
Aeypix / Shutterstock
West Lafayette is home to Purdue University.
  • Median list price for a home: $200,050
  • Median household income: $54,046

If you know Indiana, you know that Indianapolis is smack in the center of the clock. The Lafayette area is between 10 and 11 o'clock, about 60 miles northwest of Indy.

The local unemployment rate is a low 3.4%, and there are plenty of big employers with opportunities, including Purdue University (pictured), Subaru and Caterpillar.

Here's a sign of how inexpensive housing is here: A new building is now renting one-bedrooms for $1,399, and the local newspaper calls that "unheard of." A suburban four-bedroom home built in 2010 is priced under $240,000.

12. Raleigh, North Carolina

Newly built colorful homes near downtown Raleigh NC
zimmytws / Shutterstock
Downtown Raleigh features brightly colored new homes.
  • Median list price for a home: $347,930
  • Median household income: $70,693

Raleigh is booming, particularly downtown. New restaurants and nightlife have helped create demand for thousands of new downtown apartments and condos not far from the North Carolina Capitol building.

A one-bedroom downtown rents for about $1,200 a month, or you could buy one in a building with a pool for $245,000. But for just $307,000, you could buy a suburban five-bedroom house built in 2000.

Staffing firm ManpowerGroup recently identified Raleigh as one of the U.S. metro areas with the strongest job prospects. Unemployment is just 3.5% here.

11. Worcester, Massachusetts

WORCESTER, MA - FEB 9: A Worcester city street during the aftermath and cleanup of the blizzard of 2013 on February 9, 2013 in Worcester, Massachusetts. Snowfall totaled 28 inches
Joyce Vincent / Shutterstock
  • Median list price for a home: $311,800
  • Median household income: $71,212

Worcester is that city in central Massachusetts with the odd pronounciation, like "Wooster." More people are learning how to say it, as the city grows and becomes more of a bedroom community for Boston, about 50 miles away.

Worcester's lower costs are a big attraction. Homes are considerably less expensive than in Boston, where the median home price is close to $500,000. In Worcester, you can buy a suburban three-bedroom home for under $335,000.

For those who want to work here and not commute to the big city, the local unemployment rate recently hit 3.8%, and new jobs will be added as the Pawtucket Red Sox minor league baseball team moves to Worcester. Play ball!

10. Atlanta

Typical townhouses on Georgia suburbs with a courtyard in the middle
RodClementPhotography / Shutterstock
Townhouses have been springing up quickly in the Atlanta suburbs.
  • Median list price for a home: $329,950
  • Median household income: $65,167

"Hotlanta" is hotter than ever for job opportunities. The local unemployment rate recently fell to a 17-year low of 3.8%.

The metro area is home to several Fortune 500 companies, including The Home Depot, United Parcel Service, Coca-Cola and Delta Air Lines, plus it's attracting tech industry startups.

Young professionals will find plenty to do in the city that hosted the 1996 Summer Olympics. The traffic can be horrible, but Atlanta is more manageable than, say, New York or Chicago. It's a big city, but not humongous.

9. Madison, Wisconsin

Suburban life - aerial photo. Autumnal, overcast day.
Henryk Sadura / Shutterstock
You find affordable homes in tidy neighborhoods throughout the Madison area.
  • Median list price for a home: $309,750
  • Median household income: $70,042

Wisconsin's capital city, and the city where you find the University of Wisconsin, offers jobs for both blue-collar and white-collar workers.

Companies based here include Alliant Energy, American Family Insurance and Spectrum Brands, whose products include Rayovac batteries and the George Foreman Grill. The area also has loads of health care jobs.

The city's unemployment rate was just 2.4% in July. That's startlingly low, and so are home prices: You might find a condo downtown for under $300,000 or a three-bedroom home in the suburbs for less than $270,000.

8. Hartford, Connecticut

HARTFORD, CT, USA - AUG. 16, 2015: Hartford modern city skyline on Market Street in downtown Hartford, Connecticut, USA.
jiawangkun / Shutterstock
Downtown Hartford is drawing millennials.
  • Median list price for a home: $275,050
  • Median household income: $77,980

Younger millennials are flocking to Hartford, and for good reason. Obsolete office buildings are being converted to residential living spaces downtown, creating hip, affordable living spaces for professionals just starting out.

Hartford is home to major insurance companies, and the industry offers good-paying jobs. The local unemployment rate recently fell to 4.1%.

Suburban single-family homes sell for under $325,000.

7. Baltimore

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - MARCH 3: Colorful row homes in this Hampden neighborhood on March 3 2017 in Northern Baltimore.
Andrew F. Kazmierski / Shutterstock
Baltimore has many neighborhoods of affordable homes.
  • Median list price for a home: $325,050
  • Median household income: $77,704

Baltimore has been getting back on its feet following riots in 2015. The downtown and waterfront areas have been given a facelift and are attracting many new residents, particularly to luxury condos in old office buildings that have been converted.

Conveniently located close to Washington, D.C., Baltimore offers an easy commute to government jobs, and homes that are far more affordable than in the nation's capital. Washington's median home price is a much higher $449,950.

Unemployment in the Baltimore area stood at 4.6% in July, a few notches above the national rate for the month of 3.9%.

6. Philadelphia

May 14, 2018 - Philadelphia, PA, USA:  Moving day in the Rittenhouse Square neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Jana Shea / Shutterstock
Professionals are moving into downtown Philadelphia for the reasonably priced homes.
  • Median list price for a home: $269,950
  • Median household income: $70,516

Philadelphia is in the middle of a huge building boom, with more than 8 million square feet of new development being added, according to real estate services firm JLL Philadelphia.

Businesses need more space for all the new employees they're looking to hire. And, townhouses and high-rise condos are going up in the downtown area, all with modest price tags. You might find a one-bedroom condo for under $250,000.

In July, the Philadelphia metro area had an unemployment rate of 4.6%.

5. Manchester, New Hampshire

Manchester, New Hampshire, USA Skyline on the Merrimack River.
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock
Manchester offers opportunity, convenience and affordability.
  • Median list price for a home: $325,050
  • Median household income: $80,246

One of Manchester's largest employers is Southern New Hampshire University, which has been on a hiring spree in recent years, adding more than 1,000 professors and administrators.

The city also has job opportunities at a number of budding health care startups, and at the Segway scooter company, which is based in the area.

Manchester boasts an impressively low unemployment rate of 2.6% and is conveniently located less than an hour from Boston — where the median home price is $200,000 more expensive.

4. Burlington, Vermont

Burlington, VT, USA - September 30, 2013: People gather to watch the boats along the water at the Burlington Marina.
Erika J Mitchell / Shutterstock
  • Median list price for a home: $319,050
  • Median household income: $70,227

Burlington is a great place to plant yourself if you're looking to build your career in a slower-paced city. You might find a job with the University of Vermont, or with Ben & Jerry's, which offers its ice cream free to employees as a cool perk. (Literally!)

Houses in Burlington are decently priced, with three-bedroom homes selling for under $350,000. And, Burlington and its suburbs offer walkable downtowns, adding to the region's charm and cost-effectiveness.

The region's unemployment rate of 2.6% is far below the national average.

3. Minneapolis

Downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota at night time as seen from the famous stone arch bridge / Shutterstock
  • Median list price for a home: $344,565
  • Median household income: $76,791

Minneapolis and neighboring St. Paul are home to many Fortune 500 companies, including General Mills, Target and UnitedHealth Group.

The metro area's unemployment rate was just 2.6% in July. Given its variety of employers, the region is attracting talented professionals from larger cities like New York and Chicago.

The Twin Cities have experienced an influx of residents since 2010, which has sparked the construction of new downtown condos and apartment buildings.

2. Houston

Suburban American neighborhood street with row of brand new two story residential houses in Humble, Texas, US. Newly constructed, freshly built modern home with landscaped yard.
Trong Nguyen / Shutterstock
Large homes in the Houston suburbs can be surprisingly cheap.
  • Median list price for a home: $324,950
  • Median household income: $67,225

Texas' largest city is a major hub for the energy industry, and it's a great place to live and find a good job even if you don't have a college degree.

In true Texas fashion, homes in Houston are getting bigger and bigger — but not their prices. You might find a four-bedroom, 3,600-square-foot home for about $350,000.

In July, unemployment rate for Houston and its suburbs was 4.4%.

1. Chicago

typical suburb of Chicago
vladdon / Shutterstock
The Chicago metro area is much more affordable than America's other big cities.
  • Median list price for a home: $299,550
  • Median household income: $69,911

Chicago tops's list. It may be the nation's third-biggest metro area, but home prices are far lower than what you find in larger New York and Los Angeles.

Home to Fortune 500 companies such as McDonald's, Walgreens, and Boeing, "Chicagoland" attracts workers of all ages and from all over the globe.

Decent public transportation makes living in Chicago a lot easier than in many other cities. The city's unemployment rate stood at 4.1% in July.

Find today's best mortgage rates where you are:

About the Author

Doug Whiteman

Doug Whiteman


Doug Whiteman is the editor-in-chief of MoneyWise. He has been quoted by The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and and has been interviewed on Fox Business, CBS Radio and the syndicated TV show "First Business."

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