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Inflation, sky-high mortgage rates, and a wildly unpredictable market are starting to make becoming a first-time homeowner feel like a members-only club for millionaires. Fortunately, there’s finally some good news for those of us with fewer zeros in our paychecks. Data from a recent survey by Realtor.com shows that a world does still exist in which you don’t require a six-figure salary to snag a starter home. Even better: Much of that opportunity can be found in the country’s top 15 metros, so you don’t have to haul to an obscure rural town to realize the American dream. Here’s how much you need to earn to settle down in these major cities. 

  • Chicago 
    • Median two-bedroom home price: $275,900 
    • Estimated required income: $76,974
  • Dallas
    • Median two-bedroom home price: $310,00
    •  Estimated required income: $86,487
  • Las Vegas
    • Median two-bedroom home price: $335,000
    • Estimated required income: $93,462
  • Philadelphia
    • Median two-bedroom home price: $269,000 
    • Estimated required income: $75,049
  • Atlanta
    • Median two-bedroom home price: $304,995
    • Estimated required income: $85,091

If your buying journey lures you to any of these more affordable destinations, there’s plenty of inspiration to be had from those already making them feel like home. Moving to the Midwest’s suburbs doesn’t mean having to sacrifice style. Jim and Cheryl Mhyre snagged a Frank Lloyd Wright–like ranch and kept the mid-century modern look current by mixing new and vintage walnut pieces in every room. In Dallas, you’ll get a pretty big bang for your buck, but even if your budget says you have to scale down, creativity can go a long way. Exhibit A: Texas-based designer Sara Garza transformed her client’s awkward living room nook into a bookcase that doubles as a secret bar. And as for what happens in Vegas? Arvin Olano and his partner, Andrew, doubled down on a modest place with a builder-grade kitchen and then upgraded it with marble countertops, brushed-bronze pulls, and a fluted backsplash. You barely even notice that the basic white cabinets went untouched—that’s what we call working with what you’ve got.