5 Cities where Homeowners Get Big Bang for Their Buck

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By Steve Nitz
A lot of Americans dream of getting a job and moving to a city such as Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco or Chicago and eventually raising a family there.
However, it’s not quite that easy when it comes to finding housing. The affordability of a housing market is definitely something to consider when you’re factoring in what part of the country you want to spend the next part of your life in.
It’s a good thing there are cities across the country that are not only great places to live and have plenty of job opportunities, but are affordable as well, where your mortgage won’t completely drain your wallet.
Here are five major U.S. cities where homeowners can get the biggest bang for their buck:
Phoenix, Arizona
This desert city is now the sixth-largest in the United States, thanks in part to a rapid population growth after World War II. It’s also affordable, with Zillow’s home value index of $192,000 just above the national mark of $187,000.
The area’s subtropical desert climate gives way to average highs in the 60s and 70s throughout the winter months, with temps rising into the 80s and 90s during the spring and fall. It’s a desirable place to live weather-wise if you don’t mind heat – the average high temperature is over 100 in the summer – but it comes with low humidity.
The area features a team from each of the four major sports leagues (MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL), while half of Major League Baseball holds annual spring training in the Phoenix area in what is known as the Cactus League. The area is also home to over 200 golf courses.
Tampa, Florida
Tampa is part of the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater Metropolitan Area, the 22nd largest metro area in the United States. Tampa’s median home value, according to Zillow’s Home Value Index, is $160,600, below the national mark of $187,000. Ranked No. 5 on Forbes’ America’s Best Cities for the Outdoors in 2008, Tampa residents have easy access to the beaches west of the city in Pinellas County, as well as warm weather, as average highs during the winter are around 70 degrees.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Contrary to popular belief, there’s much more to Las Vegas than the Las Vegas Strip. The Entertainment Capital of the World is becoming a city for homeowners and families as well, and the Las Vegas Metropolitan area is over 2 million and the 29th largest metropolitan area in the U.S.
The city has a home value index of $198,300, just above the United States’ median home value. Residents also get to enjoy warm weather, with average highs around 60 degrees in December in this desert climate.
 Milwaukee, Wisconsin
The largest city in Wisconsin is seated right on the shore of Lake Michigan, providing its residents with numerous outdoor activities, such as beaches, fishing and boating. Known as the “City of Festivals”, Milwaukee is home to the Wisconsin State Fair, as well as Summerfest, an annual music festival on the city’s lakefront.
The median home value in Milwaukee is $96,100, well below the national mark.
Research Triangle (Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina)
The Research Triangle consists of Durham, Raleigh, Cary and Chapel Hill, and is home to three major universities – Duke, North Carolina and North Carolina State. Major employers in the area include IBM, PNC, Qualcomm and Toyota.
The area features a major international airport, and residents are anywhere from 2-4 hours from the beaches on the Atlantic Ocean. Average high temperatures in the area range from 50 degrees in January to 90 degrees in July.
The median home value of Durham is below the national mark at $174,800, while the median home value for Raleigh is $206,800.