As we climb out of the worst housing market since the Great Depression, cities all over the United States are experiencing an upturn that is changing their economy for the better. Houses at reasonable prices for both the buyer and seller are cropping up everywhere, giving families the opportunity they need to find their dream home. Whether it be jobs, schools, or geography, these 15 cities have seen a notable turn in their housing markets, especially in new home development for the middle-class family. Here’s our list of best cities for buying a new home - along with some incredible HDR (a popular style of photography) sunset photography to boot. Complete with median home prices and popular family recreation spots in the area, you are sure to find a city you’ll love.

Map of the United States

1 - Rochester, New York

City view of Rochester, New York at night

Home Price Midpoint: $116,000

Local Recreation and Attractions: Parks designed by famous landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted in the 1880’s. Home of the Susan B Anthony House, and the Seabreeze Amusement Park.

Image source: Knowsphotos

Part of the reason why homes in Rochester have retained their value so well in the past few years is that it's a popular college town. The University of Rochester fuels the job market in the area and is one of the biggest employers in the entire state of New York.

Today, many families are falling in love with the affordable suburban homes and rural landscape of Rochester while still enjoying reliable and diverse job opportunities.

2 - Phoenix, Arizona

City view of Phoenix, Arizona

Home Price Midpoint: $170,000

Local Recreation and Attractions: One of the largest park systems in the nation with over 120,000 acres of parkland, trails, and nature centers.

Image source: RightBrainPhotography

One of the cities that was hit hardest in the housing market drop in the last few years, Phoenix has made a surprising upturn. Just a year ago, the Phoenix housing market was embarrassingly sparse. Homes that were available were incredibly expensive much to the dismay of the buyer and seller.

In the past few months, the market has stabilized itself with 64% more listings to choose from since April 2013.

3 - Orlando, Florida

Orlando, Florida

Home Price Midpoint: $165,000

Local Recreation and Attractions: Universal Studios and Walt Disney World.

Image source: Trey Ratcliff

Whether you’re looking for primary residence for your family or an investment property to rent to vacationers, the time is right for buying a new home in Orlando.With tourism finally picking up once again, the real estate market slump is beginning to correct itself in Orlando, Florida. Buyers will now notice low interest rates as well as low home prices in both metro and suburban areas; median home prices were down 51% between 2006 and 2010.

4 - Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta, Georgia night skyline

Home Price Midpoint: $257,500

Local Recreation and Attractions: Home of Coca-Cola headquarters and unique World of Coca-Cola museum, the Georgia Aquarium, and the Center for Puppetry Arts.

Image source: Kay Gaensler

Atlanta is a perfect example that suburban living isn't dead. As the market grows from the recession, families are turning back to the suburbs, but with a new twist. Taking inspiration from the "green" movement, new suburban homes being built will be much more environmentally friendly than the older suburb model. This means smaller, but more useful space, closer to the street and sidewalks, and the elimination of space wasting cul-de-sacs in neighborhoods.

5 - Charlotte, North Carolina

Charlotte, North Carolina night skyline

Home Price Midpoint: $208,750

Local Recreation and Attractions: Home to 210 parks and more than 17,600 acres of parkland and Carowinds Family Amusement Park.

Image source: Andrew Chipley

Though the average price of homes in Charlotte have not dropped significantly, mortgage rates have. In the end of 2012, buyers never considered they would see mortgage rates as low as they were, but in the last few months they have dropped even more. Today, a 30 year fixed-rate mortgage fell to 4.12% in the week of June 30th, 2014, when a year ago 30 year rates were at 4.29%. 15 year and 1 year mortgages, both fixed and adjustable, have seen drops in average as well effectively opening up options for many families looking for homes in the area.

6 - Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Home Price Midpoint: $128,250

Local Recreation and Attractions: Over 900 local volunteers participating in the Adopt-A-Park program spanning 100 areas. Myriad Botanical Gardens with 17 acres of formal gardens, tropical conservatory, and horticulture classes.

Image source: Lance Pearman

Though technically reaching its housing market peak in 2009, Oklahoma City has only lost 1% of its value since then. Today, Oklahoma City has a relatively low unemployment rate of 5.3% when compared to the rest of the nation with an average of about 7%. The average price of homes has risen in the past few years, but is still affordable for most middle-class families.

7 - Seattle, Washington

Seattle, Washington skyline

Home Price Midpoint: $440,000

Local Recreation and Attractions: Home of the famous Museum of Flight and the Seattle Art Museum and the Space Needle Observation Center.

Image source: Shutter Runner

Home to retail king Amazon, Seattle has always been a pioneer in innovation and creating jobs where there previously were none. That's good news for the housing market there as well; where there are jobs, there are certainly homes. Seattle has recovered better from the record-setting foreclosures in the past several years than other cities, partly due to its geography between mountainous land and sea. The limited land has kept Seattle a strong buyer’s market.

8 - Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville, Tennessee skyline

Home Price Midpoint: $208,000

Local Recreation and Attractions: Country Music Hall of Fame and the Centennial Park with access to the Parthenon.

Image source: Jason Mrachina

The classically colorful and musical city of Nashville is an up-and-comer for the rebounding housing market. Known for its food and music all over the country, Nashville has recently invested over $600 million on a brand new downtown convention center amounting to one of the most expensive projects in the city's history. Closings on houses have rose to 18.9% since 2013, bumping it up to a city to keep an eye on for families looking for a home this year.

9 - Salt Lake City, Utah

Salt Lake City, Utah

Home Price Midpoint: $387,090

Local Recreation and Attractions: 104 local parks, 6 golf courses, and the beautiful botanical garden, the Red Butte Garden and Arboretum.

Image source: Sam Klein

Sporting one of the nation's lowest unemployment rate (4.6%), Utah is shining star in the rebirth of the middle-class home in America. The sale of single family homes in Salt Lake County has risen by 5% in the last year, with over 30% of those sales in Salt Lake City itself.

10 - Raleigh, North Carolina

Raleigh, North Carolina skyline

Home Price Midrange: $171,800

Local Recreation and Attractions: Called the "Smithsonian of the South" for its high quality local museums like the North Carolina Museum of Art and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.

Image source: Gary Craig

Raleigh has proven to have one of the most stable housing markets in the United States, even during the recession. Determined to be the 5th most stable market in the country, wealth is tied into the properties of the city by local homeowners. While other cities have seen their worst years for real estate in the 2000’s, Raleigh's worst years were 30 years prior in the early 1980’s when house prices dropped to below 5%.

11 - Sacramento, California

Sacramento, California skyline

Home Price Midpoint: $224,500

Local Recreation and Attractions:  California state capitol, home of the California Automobile Museum. Historical Old Sacramento and Gold Rush era Sutter's Fort.

Image source: C.M. Keiner

The state of California as a whole is slowly working its way back to its former housing market. Bigger cities are moving a bit slower to recover, but Sacramento hit Forbes' list of America's top fastest-moving housing markets at #9. The average price of a home has risen in the Sacramento region, but is not predicted to rise further in the near future.

12 - Dayton, Ohio

Dayton, Ohio

Home Price Midpoint: $114,900

Local Recreation and Attractions: The Dayton Art Institute and the Carillon Historical Park.

Image source: Sam Smithson

Recently, and reported by sources all over, the Dayton Area of Ohio is the most affordable place to live in the United States. Trulia released the 10 most affordable places to live in the country and Ohio cities accounted for 5 of them. A great city for middle class families just looking for a safe and affordable town to live in, Dayton has the 5th most affordable housing market according to a study by the National Association of Home Builders.

13 - San Antonio, Texas

San Antonio, Texas

Home Price Midpoint: $153,000

Local Recreation and Attractions: SeaWorld, Six Flags, and the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park

Image source: Brandon Watts

One of the 60 metro areas that have reached or exceeded their pre-recession housing markets, San Antonio is an area for young families all over to keep an eye on. The midpoint of home values in the area, according to Zillow, is $153,000; that's a 4.6% increase from what was reported in the 1st quarter of 2013.

14 - Baltimore, Maryland

Baltimore, Maryland waterfront

Home Price Midpoint: $210,145

Local Recreation and Attractions: Home of the USS Constellation, constructed in 1854 and Flagship of the US African Squadron 1859 – 1861, Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park, the 2nd largest urban wilderness in the nation, and more than 5,700 acres of parkland.

Image source: Glenn Forest

The median price for a single family home in Baltimore is about $210,145, which is very reasonable considering the average Baltimore family income is $83,500. Weighing household incomes against average housing sales, Baltimore has shown to be one of the best bangs for your buck in the recovering market.

15 - Chicago, Illinois

Chicago, Illinois

Home Price Midpoint: $247,500

Local Recreation and Attractions: Navy Pier, Museum of Science and Industry, and a finalist in the 2014 National Recreation and Parks Association Gold Medal Award for excellence in park and recreation management.

Image source: Shutter Runner

Topping lists all over this spring as one of the most affordable housing markets, Chicago doesn't disappoint. In February of 2014, the median sales price of a home was $247,500, compared to the median price of $265,000 in other competing markets in the US. The average family home sells for 2.2 times the local family income.

Buying a new home is an important decision, come see why Shea Homes is dedicated to helping you find a new home to call your own.


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