We all love to look at the price of homes on the market, even if we aren’t looking for a house. Admit it, you’ve picked up one of those fliers from the For Sale signs despite having no intention of buying. It’s good to stay informed about the home values in your neighborhood and understand what it would cost to move into a new home.
Many potential first-time homebuyers, however, mistakenly believe that real estate costs are the only prices that matter. In fact, three main factors determine the actual price you pay for your home each month: your monthly mortgage payment depending on the amount down and the interest rate, your monthly home insurance premium, and property taxes in your area.
We set out to find midsized cities (those with populations between 250,000 and 650,000) with the cheapest monthly cost per square foot; in these cities, you can get the most for your dollar.
How much would you pay monthly per square foot for the average house in these cities? The number probably is lower than you think:
1. Toledo, OH: $0.30 per square foot
- Average total monthly payment: $461.55
- Average home size: 1,548.1 sq. ft.
Yes, that’s right. For just 30 cents each month you could pay for one square foot of floor space in your Toledo home. In the northwest corner of Ohio and resting on the state’s border with Michigan, Toledo is a little gem of home buying opportunity.
Why? Ohio has low average insurance premiums, probably because the state experiences low risk for major natural disasters. Toledo’s monthly price per square foot is more than 8 times lower than the corresponding price in Honolulu. You could say “Aloha” to lower prices in the Buckeye State instead.
Here’s an example of what your mere 30 cents could buy you: an average-sized 1,549-square-foot home with 3 bedrooms and two baths. You’ll be living easy in “T-town.”
2. Cleveland, OH: $0.31 per square foot
- Average total monthly payment: $503.61
- Average home size: 1,604.3 sq. ft.
Life in the ‘Forest City’ isn’t much more expensive than in Toledo – or much different. Cleveland relies on its position on the southern shores of Lake Erie to regulate its temperatures and extreme weather. Property taxes also are low in the city. At just 31 cents per square foot monthly, you could live in this lovely gray house with 5 beds and 1.5 baths.
3. Tulsa, OK: $0.36 per square foot
- Average total monthly payment: $630.07
- Average home size: 1,767.1 sq. ft.
If the Midwest isn’t your style, look to the Southwest, to Tulsa, for a great home buying deal. Oklahoma has the second highest average insurance premiums on our list. However, Tulsa has the lowest property taxes at an average of just $87 a month.
Although Tulsa is located in an area of Oklahoma known as ‘Green Country,’ it shouldn’t take a lot of green to purchase a home here. What can $0.36 per square foot monthly buy you? Cozy up in this 3-bed, 2-bath 1-story with a rock façade and granite countertops.
4. Cincinnati, OH: $0.37 per square foot
- Average total monthly payment: $643.52
- Average home size: 1,728.4 sq. ft.
It’s back to Ohio for our 4th best home buying deal. Many consider Cincinnati, located on the border between Ohio and Kentucky, to be the first purely American city. We’ll add that many should consider it a good American bargain. For just 37 cents per month for every square foot, you could live in a beautiful 3-bed, 2-bath brick cottage with granite counters, wood floors, and a fire place.
5. Greensboro, NC: $0.38 per square foot
- Average total monthly payment: $626.07
- Average home size: 1,628.7 sq. ft.
Greensboro has the lowest average insurance premium in our top five. Average North Carolinians pay just $56 per month to protect their homes from perils such as wind or fire. The Piedmont region also has low property taxes and mortgage rates. Residents can purchase a new home such as this 3-bed, 2-bath two-story with vaulted ceilings for a great monthly price.
We determined these prices by adding the following:
- Property tax in each county, divided by 12 to calculate the monthly payment (CNN money): http://money.cnn.com/interactive/real-estate/property-tax/
- State average insurance premium, divided by 12 for monthly premium: www.homeinsurance.com, www.iii.org
- Calculated average monthly mortgage payment with the Zillow average mortgage interest rate and average home value for each city. Used average down payment percentage per state by tree.com: Zillow.com, http://investor-relations.tree.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=870200, https://homeinsurance.com/homehq/calculators/mortgage-calculator/
We then divided the results by the median square footage for homes in the city from Zillow.com.