You Can Still Afford Your Dream Home in These 5 Cities

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You can still afford your dream home in Topeka or Portland—but don’t overlook the affordable dream homes on the market in Illinois, Iowa, and Mississippi
Finding a home you can afford is a challenge—finding your dream home within your price range might just feel impossible. Sure, that $175,000 house you found in Zillow is in budget, but do you really want to pour your savings into orange 70s shag carpet, flaking paint, and cheap laminate countertops? Too often, buying an affordable home means buying a home you can live with—not a home you love
That’s why Jerry’s changing the conversation. As the only super app created to save people money on car and home insurance, Jerry knows the value of a good deal—but we don’t think you should have to sacrifice your dreams just to save money. Instead of looking for cheap and cheap alone, we’re taking a tour of the nation’s cheapest dream houses, and you’re invited. 
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Where can you still afford your dream home?

With home prices climbing across the country and inflation weakening consumers’ bank accounts, the hunt for a dream home is more discouraging than ever. The median home price in the US is over $400,000 for the first time in history—and in many places, it’s higher. 
Hawaii and California are the two most expensive states to buy a house, with median prices of $615,300 and $505,000, respectively. Oregon, Washington, and Colorado aren’t far behind. Rocket Mortgage lists San Francisco as the most expensive city to buy a house in, followed by New York, San Jose, and the D.C. suburb of Bethesda, Maryland.  
So if you’re looking at major coastal cities, your odds of finding a good house in your price range are low. That’s why smart home buyers are looking inward—to smaller cities in the Midwest and South. 

The 10 cheapest states to buy a house in

According to Rocket Homes, these are the cheapest states where you can buy a house in 2022: 
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • West Virginia
  • Arkansas
  • Kentucky 
  • Alabama 
  • Ohio 
  • Michigan 
  • Missouri 
  • Nebraska
You’re probably noticing something: most of these states, with the exception of Alabama, are in the center of the country. The Midwest and Great Plains are excellent places to buy a house if you’re looking for the absolute lowest prices—but life in the center also comes with drawbacks. These states may be great places to look for cheap houses, but you might not be able to find your dream home there. 

How we picked our dream homes

Of course, everyone’s dream looks a little different, so what counts as a dream home? We headed to realtor.com and analyzed listings under $300,000. Here are the criteria we used: 
  • Size: It’s not everything, but it matters. For some people, a tiny house is ideal, but for others, the bigger the house, the bigger the dream. 
  • Condition: In general, we looked for houses that stand out from the crowd with top-quality finishes and move-in-ready appeal, but we also took a few fixers into consideration for people whose dream is a historic reno! 
  • Curb appeal: Let’s face it: there are great houses out there that just don’t look like much from the outside. They may be great homes, but they’re not your dream house. 
  • Unique features and amenities: Each of these homes has a little something extra: an architectural feature that adds character, a historic backstory, next-level landscaping, or a dream setting. 
Ready to see the five places where you can still afford the home of your dreams? Let’s get started. 

Topeka, KS: ideal for families

Population: 126,397
Median home listing price 2022: $139,000
Average annual home insurance cost: $1,200
Cost of living vs. US average: 82 vs. 100
You might hear Topeka called “the biggest small town you’ll ever live in.” That’s what this mid-sized Kansas city feels like: a dense, affordable suburban neighborhood with the friendly charm of a small town. It’s just an hour’s drive away from Kansas City, but you’ll avoid the higher cost of living and sky-high crime rates of the bigger city. Great schools and the Kansas Children’s Discovery Center make Topeka a solid bet for families seeking a place to put down roots. 

Your Topeka dream home: 3111 SW 10th Ave, Topeka, KS 66604

Listing price: $135,000
Size: 1,780 square feet
Bedrooms: 4
Bathrooms: 2
From the charming front porch to the HGTV-ready kitchen to a finished basement complete with soundproof music studio, this Topeka four-bedroom is the perfect illustration of just how far your budget can stretch in Kansas’s “Golden City.” Perfect for a family with kids and pets, this home is built for entertaining and fun, with a separate dining room and a sprawling backyard that features a patio and firepit—and it comes in at $4,000 under the city’s median listing price
Huge, airy windows bring in light, pitched ceilings give the upper floor character, and the basement has room for every passion project your family adopts, from a home gym to a private music studio. Get ready to enjoy Topeka’s sunny mornings from the screened-in porch! 

Natchez, MS: ideal for restoration junkies

Population: 14,981
Median home listing price 2022: $176,000
Average annual home insurance cost: $1,400
Cost of living vs. US average: 83 vs. 100
If you’re looking for the ultimate restoration project in a peaceful Southern town, look no further than Natchez. Known for its stunning antebellum mansions, Natchez was once the Hamptons of the Old South. It’s a great place to explore historic architecture—and with some of the lowest housing prices in the nation, it’s also an ideal place to snatch up a historic home of your own at a reasonable price

Your Natchez dream home: 402 Washington St, Natchez, MS 39120

Listing price: $175,000
Size: 3,890 square feet
Bedrooms: 4
Bathrooms: 1
Just blocks from the Mississippi River stands this shockingly affordable 1909 gem. Authentic hardwood floors, original light fixtures, and historic molding all make this home a stunning piece of history. But what sets this house apart from other old homes on offer is that it’s been passed down by the same family for generations—meaning that it’s been lovingly maintained. 
Of course, any house of this age comes with opportunities for updating. The kitchen is begging for an all-white makeover to match the eye-catching front porch, and the enclosed porch is a perfect canvas for a reno buff. And at the accessible price point of $175,000, just below the area’s median listing price, you’ll have room in your budget to put your own mark on this piece of history! 

Ames, IA: ideal for millennials

Population: 66,023
Median home listing price 2022: $283,500
Average annual home insurance cost: $1,400
Cost of living vs. US average: 98 vs 100
When you think of the best places for affordable living, Ames might not be on your radar—but it should be. Home to Iowa State University, this small city is located in the heart of one of the cheapest states to buy a house in, and it offers the mix of small-town and urban vibes that the best college towns provide. There’s more than one reason the city was named one of the best places for millennials to move in 2019. 
One major draw of living in Ames? Jobs. Thanks to the tech programs at Iowa State, the city’s part of the Midwest’s Silicon Prairie, which contributes to Ames’s shockingly low 2.7% unemployment rate. But the city’s also a hotspot for arts and culture, with tons of music festivals and art walks sponsored by local breweries and other foodie hangouts. You’ll also get access to gorgeous local parks and the Reiman Gardens on the university campus.  

Your Ames dream home: 712 8th St, Ames, IA 50010

Listing price: $225,000
Size: 1,595 square feet
Bedrooms: 3
Bathrooms: 2
The charming blue-and-white porch beckons you into this adorable Ames three-bedroom, which is over $50,000 cheaper than the average listing in the city! Despite that accessible listing price, it’s not short on character. If your dream is a house with a photo-ready entry staircase, this house delivers. If you’re looking for a relaxed living-dining combo for entertaining, you’ve got that too. And if you’re looking for that perfect all-white kitchen—well, it’s there, too. 
But the cherry on top of this dream house sundae is the backyard: fully fenced for your four-legged family members, the private back patio features a brand-new hot tub. Enough said. 

Rockford, IL: ideal for culture

Population: 147,070
Median home listing price 2022: $117,500
Average annual home insurance cost: $900
Cost of living vs. US average: 85 vs. 100
If your ultimate dream home is located in a major city, you might be surprised to find that you can lock in an affordable alternative and still stay within reach of all the culture and excitement those bigger cities offer. Rockford, Illinois is the perfect place to put down roots within reach of two Midwest giantsMilwaukee and Chicago
But you won’t just benefit from proximity to major cities: Rockford is a great place to live in its own right! Botanical gardens, arboretums, and nature preserves emphasize the city’s natural beauty, while the Burpee Natural History Museum, Rockford Art Museum, and Ethnic Heritage Museum keep you in touch with cultural happenings. 

Your Rockford dream home: 519 Robert Ave, Rockford, IL 61107

Listing price: $189,000
Size: 2,128 square feet
Bedrooms: 3
Bathrooms: 1.5 
This one-of-a-kind Tudor-style home is the ideal dream home for anyone who’s ever wished they live in a storybook. Lush landscaping and vine-covered brick make the house stand out, and the interior’s just as stunning, with a living-and-dining combo straight off the Magnolia Network and an all-white kitchen worthy of HGTV. Head back outside, and a private patio with tons of seating and a fireplace complement the whimsical garden setting. 
Oh, and did we mention the walk-in closet and massive sunroom? Gorgeous hardwood floors, cove molding, and banks of dazzling windows come together to create a home that feels more like a magical garden retreat

Portland, OR: ideal for tiny home lovers

Population: 645,291
Median home listing price 2022: $536,800
Average home insurance cost: $1,300
Cost of living vs. US average: 127 vs. 100
What’s that? Portland is one of the most expensive cities to buy a house in? Absolutely true—but that doesn’t mean you can’t afford your dream home there, too
Yes, Oregon has some of the nation’s highest real estate prices, and Portland’s cost of living is above the national average. But finding a dream home is all about perspective and compromise: after all, if your heart is in the Pacific Northwest, buying a cheap house in Iowa won’t really meet anything but your most practical needs. 
Buying a full-size mansion or even a standard single-family home in Portland is probably off the table if you’re working with a limited budget—but tiny homes, like the ones located on marinas on the Columbia River, offer adventurous homeowners a chance to drop anchor in the city of their dreams. 

Your Portland dream home: 19609 NE Marine Dr Slip C7, Portland, OR 97230

Listing price: $207,900
Size: 600 square feet
Bedrooms: 1
Bathrooms:
Adorable is the word for this cozy marina one-bedroom, which features a snug loft bedroom and a built-in rooftop deck. The open-plan main living area, which features plenty of windows and full-size stainless steel appliances, is perfect for indoor entertaining on Portland’s many rainy days, but you’ve also got a front porch and a spacious roof deck to soak up the sun when it ventures out from behind the clouds
This dream house also comes with something you won’t find almost anywhere else: a boat well. Whether you own a boat already or are thinking of making a new investment, this affordable dream is the ideal place to store it full-time. 

How to find affordable home and car insurance (wherever your dreams take you)

No matter where you find your dream house, you’ll need to purchase a home insurance policy to defend it from the countless perils that homeowners face. Keeping the cost of insurance down poses its own challenge—but with help from Jerry, you can find affordable rates in no time! 
Well, not no time—technically, it takes about 45 seconds for Jerry to scan rates from 50+ top insurers and find you customized quotes. Once that’s done, all you need to do is choose the quote that looks best to you, and Jerry’s team of experts will help you lock in that rate with as little paperwork as possible—and zero phone calls (unless you specifically request one!). 
The best news? You can shop for a new car insurance rate at the same time—and Jerry users save an average of $800+ a year on auto insurance alone! With savings like that, you can still afford your dream home. 
Jerry was wonderful! I used it for my auto and renters policies. I trusted it so much that I signed up my homeowners insurance under Jerry as well. All of the agents are amazingly nice and knowledgeable.” —Mary Y.
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