Rust Belt, Sun Belt Home to Most Popular Affordable Metros for Relocating House Hunters

Elevated house prices and mortgage rates continue to influence migration trends, pushing homebuyers away from expensive coastal metros. San Antonio, Cincinnati, and Greensboro, NC, emerged as the most popular affordable metros in the country for house hunters looking to relocate. 

As of January 2024, the national median sale price was over $402,000. That’s unaffordable for many potential homebuyers, especially amidst a landscape where dips and jumps in mortgage rates can cause large market fluctuations. So, where are people looking to find houses within their budget? 

Redfin analyzed data for metropolitan areas that have both median sale prices below $300,000 and positive in-migration (more people moving in than out). Out of all the metros that met the criteria, San Antonio emerged as the most popular metro for homebuyers with a budget under $300,000. 

So, if you have a budget below $300,000 and want to move somewhere that’s growing, below are 17 metros that may work for you: 

Metros with median sale prices below $300,000 and positive net inflow

Metro Net Inflow Median Sale Price
San Antonio, TX 2,000 $290,000
Cincinnati, OH 1,300 $255,000
Greensboro, NC 1,300 $273,000
Harrisburg, PA 1,300 $255,000
Cleveland, OH 1,100 $186,000
Pittsburgh, PA 1,100 $195,000
New Orleans, LA 1,000 $268,000
Ocala, FL 1,000 $269,000
Little Rock, AR 900 $227,000
Oklahoma City, OK 900 $253,000
South Bend, IN 800 $200,000
Buffalo, NY 700 $230,000
Mobile, AL 700 $218,000
Tulsa, OK 700 $240,000
El Paso, TX 600 $257,000
Augusta, GA 500 $273,000
Memphis, TN 500 $250,000

Data sourced January 2024. Net inflow is the number of home searchers looking to move into a metro area, minus the number of searchers looking to leave. 

What does this mean?

In general, homebuyers in January looked to move to the center of the country in search of affordability, as low inventory and rising house prices drove people from expensive coastal metros. For some homeowners, moving was a means to maximize affordability and house size  – for others, it was to trade rain and snow for year-round sun. 

Nine metros in our data set are in the Sun Belt, which was a migration hotspot during the pandemic and has since seen spikes based on affordability and climate risks

Another cluster of metros in our data are located in the Rust Belt, which has been an affordable refuge for decades but has become more popular as of late. For example, Upstate New York, on the Eastern edge of the Rust Belt, was recently one of the fastest housing markets in the nation; homes sold in roughly a week. Cincinnati, Harrisburg, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, South Bend, and Buffalo are all considered Rust Belt metros. 

Today, affordability is the primary migration driver for home searchers. However, climate concerns are becoming more relevant, with air pollution emerging as a factor. In fact, roughly 1 million more people moved out of than into U.S. metros with high risks of poor air quality in 2021-2022. Other climate risks, like flooding, aren’t deterring buyers but are influencing migration trends, creating “Climate Abandonment Areas.”

Methodology: Data does not reflect actual moves. Data is instead based on a sample of about two million users who searched for homes across more than 100 metro areas. To be included in this dataset, a user must have viewed at least 10 homes in a three month period. Net inflow rounded to nearest 100; median sale price rounded to nearest $1,000.

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