Stay tuned for our look at America’s Most Affordable Cities.
We will be posting a countdown each day of the top 20 Cities in America.
Every day in coastal hot spots like San Francisco, New York, and Boston, it seems the news on housing costs is just abysmal. Professionals in these areas may earn higher paychecks, but many struggle with high rents—and for many, buying a house seems like an impossible dream. But in a host of Midwestern and Southern cities, the economic realities are a lot more palatable.
Take greater Birmingham, Ala. The median family income of $61,000 might be lower than the national average ($63,900), but prices for just about everything are lower there, too. During the fourth quarter of 2014 the median sales price for a home was $130,000, and about 81.5% of homes were affordable to families bringing in the area’s median pay. Paychecks stretch further all around: groceries cost about 5.4% less in Birmingham than the national average, transportation about 13.2%, and health care 16.6%.
Birmingham may not have Los Angeles’ beaches, but it probably has happier drivers, given that the average commute time by car is a mere 24 minutes, according to Brian Hilson, president of the Birmingham Business Alliance. The metro has a strong medical research industry centered at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the Southern Research Institute, and some 70 foreign companies, including Mercedes Benz and Honda, have facilities in and around Birmingham. “You get a lot for your money to live and work and do business in Birmingham,” says Hilson. We agree–Birmingham lands the No. 1 spot on our 2015 list of America’s Most Affordable Cities.
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