First-Time Buyers, You’re in Luck: These City-Adjacent Markets Are Still Affordable

Set your search radius here.
first time home
Photography by DP Productions/Getty Images

We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs.

On the long list of questions that all first-time home buyers need to ask themselves—Do I want a turnkey house or a fixer-upper? Should I get a fixed-rate mortgage or an adjustable one?—the number-one inquiry is usually: Where should I buy? To help narrow down the search radius, recently released data revealing the best markets for novice home buyers. After analyzing the expected sales in the nation’s 100 largest metros, they looked at the growth predictions for each of said market’s surrounding areas. Ultimately, they ranked 659 cities in and around those locations according to factors that first-timers would find attractive.

In case you’re wondering what makes a market hot for new owners, according to, it’s the amount of inventory available, the population of 25- to 34-year-olds, affordability (based on the average income of that age group), the volume of job opportunities within a decent commute, and the number of nearby restaurants and bars. Many towns that top the list are on the smaller side, but they’re not too far from the bustling districts that city dwellers may want to keep close. Here are five of the top 10 markets to consider:

  • If you live in Boston, look in Somersworth, New Hampshire. 
  • If you live in upstate New York, look in Eggertsville, Watervliet, or Mattydale. 
  • If you live in Philadelphia, look in Gloucester City, New Jersey.
  • If you live in Salt Lake City, look in Magna, Utah. 
  • If you live in Hartford, Connecticut, look in Windsor Locks.  

Once you’ve landed on where you want to buy, brush up on some of the best advice we’ve gathered from those who have been where you are. For example, real-estate agent Cassidy Iwersen says when the inventory is moving fast, you might want to consider places with just one bathroom (you can alway add a second!). Or, as Kate Shannon Jenkins warns, don’t let sparkly new appliances sway you into acting too quickly on an older home—all that flashiness could distract you from less-obvious structural problems. And even if you have to settle for a smaller lot, Stefanie Dollak proves you can still double the size of your new home even after you close the deal.