Magna? Chalco? Mauldin? Realtor.com rounded up the best cities for first-time homebuyers in 2022 and found that the best housing markets for first-time buyers are under the radar.

First-time homebuyers have had a difficult time over the past few years, with inventory hitting some of its lowest lows as competition and prices have continue to increase.

But with remote work now the new reality for millions of Americans, first-time homebuyers may also have much more flexibility about where they choose to live — and that could help their odds.

Realtor.com recently determined the best housing markets for first-time homebuyers in 2022, calculating the best job markets, shortest commutes, most vibrant restaurant scenes, and most affordable costs of living, and named Magna, Utah, the best market for first-time homebuyers this year.

Danielle Hale

“Buying a first home is always a challenging undertaking, and it’s been an especially tough couple years for first-time buyers, many of whom are struggling to find a home that’s within their budget or win in a competitive bidding situation,” Realtor.com Chief Economist Danielle Hale said in a statement.

“With this in mind, and the fact that remote work has given people more flexibility in where they live, we wanted to identify markets where first-timers have a chance to become homeowners and find a great quality of life.”

These best markets for first-time buyers identified by realtor.com have nearly twice as many homes for sale than the national average, a younger population than the country as a whole, have an average of more than five eating or drinking establishments per 1,000 households, lower home-price-to-income ratios than the national rate, a lower unemployment rate than the national average, strong housing markets poised for growth, and commutes that are shorter than the national average of 30 minutes.

The following are the best markets for first-time buyers in 2022.

1. Magna, Utah

Magna, a town located in Salt Lake County about 15 miles southwest of Salt Lake City, scored high when it came to restaurants in the area at an average of 5.8 food and drink establishments per 1,000 households. The area is also poised for strong price and sales growth in the next year, which puts first-time buyers in a great position a few years down the line. A boom in new construction is also giving buyers more options to choose from.

2. Chalco, Nebraska

Located about 17 miles outside of Omaha, Chalco residents have access to ample job opportunities while also being able to easily access nature with the Chalco Hills Recreation Area, a haven for hiking, biking and kayaking. Chalco is one of the most affordable cities to appear on realtor.com’s list, with a median home-price-to-income ratio of 2.8.

3. Mauldin, South Carolina

“First-time buyers will find small town southern charm and natural attractions combined with a short commute to Greenville’s downtown area, airport and strong jobs market,” realtor.com’s analysis says of Mauldin. The city has one of the shortest estimated commutes at 24 minutes and a low average unemployment rate of 2.3 percent.

4. Beech Grove, Indiana

Beech Grove, which is technically its own city with a separate government and police department from neighboring Indianapolis, has a lot going on at an affordable price. The downtown area many leisure opportunities for young people, like restaurants, craft breweries and other nightlife options, such as the 24-hour bowling alley.

5. Portsmouth, Virginia

Portsmouth boasts a very affordable average home price of $215,000 and is home to the Norfolk Naval Shipyard and the U.S. Coastguard Portsmouth, providing plenty of military and defense-related job opportunities. With its location on the Elizabeth River and a stone’s throw from Virginia Beach, the market is also great for water sports enthusiasts.

6. Cottage Grove, Wisconsin

Cottage Grove allows residents to access all the amenities of city living at a short drive away from Madison while having all the comforts of a more quiet pace of life at their fingertips. It’s a great city for golfers with two prominent golf courses in the area, and for those who enjoy lake life, Lake Mendota and Lake Monona are just a short drive away.

7. Grimes, Iowa

Grimes is less than a 30-minute drive from Des Moines, has a very low cost of living, and has the shortest estimated commute time out of all the markets that made realtor.com’s list at just 23 minutes. In addition, realtor.com notes that Grimes has some highly rated schools, another prized feature for young families.

8. Kuna, Idaho

Kuna may soon become an alternative to Boise for first-time buyers who were hoping to make inroads in the hot market that’s exploded in recent years. The city is an easy 30-minute drive from Boise with access to the outdoors, but has much less competition, and has the most inventory out of all the cities that made realtor.com’s list.

9. Ferndale, Michigan

Young people are attracted to Ferndale for its diversity, restaurants and happening downtown, realtor.com notes. Located about 12 miles north of Detroit, it’s also very easy for residents to get to the city while enjoying a lower cost of living.

10. Maitland, Florida

Maitland is located near Orlando and has access to several lakes, providing a bunch of water recreational opportunities. The city has one of the youngest populations out of all the markets analyzed, with 25 to 34-year-olds making up an estimated 17.5 percent of the population, compared to 13.5 percent of the country overall. The area’s good schools also make it attractive to young families.

Email Lillian Dickerson

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