The 10 Best US Cities to Save Money on Buying a Home


  • It takes nine years for the average American to save for the purchase of a home.
  • With expensive homes and lower wages, it takes longer: 11.4 years in Austin and 17.7 in San Diego.
  • Mortgage startup Tomo used wages and house prices to list the best cities to save for a home.

Saving to buy a home can be daunting at the best of times.

Right now, depending on where you live, that may seem impossible.

First, there is a lack of homes available for purchase. Housing inventory, defined as the number of homes listed or awaiting sale, has grown from 1.39 million properties in 2019 to 760,000 in 2021, according to data from the National Association of Realtors.

The paltry stocks led to a price spike. The median price for active listings soared to $392,000 in February, up 26.6% from $310,000 in February 2020, Realtor.com found.

Likewise, the average time it takes Americans to save for a down payment to buy a home has risen to nine years — up from 7.3 years in January 2020, according to data from mortgage tech startup Tomo.

These statistics suggest that it’s difficult for anyone to buy, but they reflect a particular challenge for first-time home buyers.

“Existing homeowners can move their record capital gains to the next home,” said Skylar Olsen, Tomo’s senior economist. “But a first-time buyer who buys 10% less on the typical home and earns the median household income will have to save an additional 1.7 years since the start of the pandemic.”

It takes even longer to save for a home in some of the country’s most popular places to live, Tomo said. In Seattle, it takes 13.3 years; in San Francisco, 18.5; and in Los Angeles, 19.9.

The most affordable cities to save, on the other hand, are mostly located in the Midwest or East Coast states. Ohio and New York have multiple cities on the list.

Big cities offer certain advantages – such as higher salaries – compared to cities where it is easier to save. The cities listed as easier to save all fall below the nation’s median household income of $67,521, according to the 2020 census.

Tomo, which is gaining prominence as a lender for new home purchases, calculated the cities where it takes the least time to save up to buy a new home. Tomo estimated a price-to-house ratio by calculating the years it would take to save up to a 20% down payment using just 10% of the area’s median household income.

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