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

So you’ve decided to buy your first home despite every news outlet and late-night TV host telling you it’s practically impossible these days—congratulations! Now the big question is: Where should you go? You probably already have a neighborhood in mind. Maybe it’s somewhere close to where you grew up or a suburb that offers easy access to your current city. Or perhaps you’re willing to flip a coin like designer Kevin Dumais did (seriously, that’s how he and his husband, Kevin, ended up in Litchfield, Connecticut). If that’s more your speed, keep reading. 

Both Realtor.com and Zillow recently released reports on the best markets. Looking at the top 10 lists, below, you’ll notice they’re pretty different, and that’s because each company pulled from its own set of data and adhered to various methodology. Realtor.com’s analysis weighed factors like the share of 25- to 34-year-old homeowner households, the number of active listings, the ratio of listing prices to gross incomes, and even the liveliness of an area. Meanwhile, Zillow looked at things like the share of households belonging to those between the ages of 29 and 43, the ratio of affordable for-sale inventory to renter households, and the share of for-sale inventory that the median household can afford if they’re spending no more than 30 percent of their income on monthly mortgage costs. Zillow also focused on larger metro areas for its analysis. That said, overall, each one spotlights where your dollars go further and starter homes are relatively plentiful.

Realtor.com’s Best Markets for New Buyers

Zillow’s Best Markets for New Buyers

  1. Irondequoit, New York
  2. Benton, Arkansas
  3. Winterset, Iowa
  4. Newington, Connecticut
  5. Council Bluffs, Iowa
  6. Cheektowaga, New York
  7. Grand Rapids, Michigan
  8. Moore, Oklahoma
  9. Mattydale, New York
  10. Riviera Beach, Maryland
  1. St. Louis, Missouri
  2. Detroit, Michigan
  3. Minneapolis, Minnesota
  4. Indianapolis, Indiana
  5. Austin, Texas
  6. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  7. San Antonio, Texas
  8. Birmingham, Alabama
  9. Kansas City, Missouri
  10. Baltimore, Maryland

If you’re wondering what life could look like in some of the above destinations, we’ve got you covered. Here are a few of our favorite homes we’ve featured in these first-time-buyer-proof cities.

Grand Rapids

Just when Sarah Sherman Samuel’s interior design career began to take off in 2017, she made a choice that could potentially disrupt everything. She and her family decided to move from their 1,400-square-foot bungalow in Los Angeles to Michigan in search of more space and the opportunity to design her own dream home. Samuel found just that in a 1980 postmodern house in Grand Rapids, which has proved to not only be the perfect place for her but for first-time home buyers in general. The median listing price is $260,000. 


Alex Simons never expected that she would put roots down in Texas. But in 2020, after a stint in L.A., her home state came calling back. At first, her internal dialogue went something along the lines of: You are a single woman with no partner or children. Why would you buy a house? “But I snapped out of it,” says Simons. “I realized how deeply rooted the traditional ideals of a woman’s role had been ingrained in me—the culmination of decades of subconscious societal conditioning.” She landed on a new property by an independent local builder in the city’s North Loop neighborhood.


When Victoria Sass of Prospect Refuge Studio sat down with her clients, Andrea and Matthew, to talk about renovating their kitchen, she pulled out her iPad and played a clip of the Spring 2020 Gucci runway show, a contemporary collection referencing how 1970s fashion trends were reinvented in the 1990s. The red patent shoes hitting the glossy mint-colored catwalk ultimately inspired the palette for their reno. The designer focuses on “timefulness” in her projects, or the idea of layering nods to different parts of the past. “I think this space works because it’s just being itself,” she says. 

Birmingham, Alabama

It was the porches that ultimately sold Alice Callahan Thompson on her family’s Birmingham home. They weren’t particularly spacious—it was simply the idea of sitting on them that she liked. After living in NYC for close to two decades, she had grown accustomed to lounging on a stoop as they indulged in one of their favorite pastimes: people-watching.


Just because Kamaria Gray and Dakarai Carter bought their cheap old house for $110,000 doesn’t mean they decided to spend double that gut renovating the interior. Instead they learned to love what was there, down to the vintage wallpaper in their daughter Cozi’s room. Gray admits she thought about removing it at first, but now they cherish the whimsical vines.