The 31 most underrated American cities to live in

Charleston, South Carolina, is one of the most undervalued cities to buy a home.

caption
Charleston, South Carolina, is one of the most undervalued cities to buy a home.
source
Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

  • Smart homeowners should take out an affordable mortgage on an undervalued home, according to economists at SmartAsset.
  • SmartAsset recently found the most undervalued cities to buy a home in the US, based on value per square foot.
  • It looks like the eastern side of the US is the most undervalued area to buy a home – more than half of the top 10 cities are located there.

Becoming a homeowner is often more complicated than one expects. It’s also more expensive – millennials buying their first home today will pay 39% more than baby boomers who bought their first home in the 1980s.

In today’s homebuying climate, it’s important to take out an affordable mortgage – and even better to do so on an undervalued home. That’s according to SmartAsset, which recently released a report on the most underrated cities in the US to live in based on current vs. potential housing values.

SmartAsset created a statistical model for 200 cities investigating how housing values, represented by price per square foot, were affected by eight quality of life metrics: unemployment rates, high school graduation rates, percent of residents with a college degree, crime rate, entertainment establishment density, average days of rain, average days of bad weather, and walk score.

The model (formally, a linear regression model) shows the positive or negative impact each of those eight measures had on housing prices. To determine how overvalued or undervalued a particular city was, SmartAsset compared the model’s prediction for housing prices in that city based on how the city fared on the eight quality of life measures to the actual price per square foot in the city. SmartAsset ranked undervalued cities based on how much lower their actual housing prices were than the prices projected by the model.

For example, the average home in Los Angeles, California, is worth nearly $425 per square foot, according to Zillow. But according to SmartAsset’s model, it should be worth nearly $525 per square foot – so residents are saving almost $100.

More than half of top 10 undervalued cities are located on the eastern side of the US.

Below, see the best places to buy a home where the average property is worth at least $80 less than what it should to worth.


31. Columbia, Missouri

source
Nina B/Shutterstock

Projected value per square foot: $178.08

Actual value per square foot: $98

Savings: $80.08


30. Santa Ana, California

source
Lunasee Studios/Shutterstock

Projected value per square foot: $447.13

Actual value per square foot: $366.75

Savings: $80.38


29. Omaha, Nebraska

source
Henryk Sadura/Shutterstock

Projected value per square foot: $196.89

Actual value per square foot: $115.17

Savings: $81.72


28. Tampa, Florida

source
Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Projected value per square foot: $217.34

Actual value per square foot: $135.00

Savings: $82.34


27. St. Louis, Missouri

source
Steven Liveoak/Shutterstock

Projected value per square foot: $182.34

Actual value per square foot: $99.42

Savings: $82.93


26. Frisco, Texas

source
Andrew Fuller/Shutterstock

Projected value per square foot: $214.38

Actual value per square foot: $130.42

Savings: $83.97


25. Lincoln, Nebraska

source
Steven Frame/Shutterstock

Projected value per square foot: $220.62

Actual value per square foot: $134.92

Savings: $85.70


24. Denton, Texas

source
Jo Hunter/Shutterstock

Projected value per square foot: $200.32

Actual value per square foot: $113.42

Savings: $86.90


23. Cary, North Carolina

source
KAD Photo/Shutterstock

Projected value per square foot: $235.44

Actual value per square foot: $148.50

Savings: $86.94


22. Los Angeles, California

source
Let Go Media/Shutterstock

Projected value per square foot: $522.77

Actual value per square foot: $423.75

Savings: $99.02


21. Madison, Wisconsin

source
Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Projected value per square foot: $274.10

Actual value per square foot: $174.17

Savings: $99.94


20. Bridgeport, Connecticut

source
MainlightPhoto.com/Shutterstock

Projected value per square foot: $211.83

Actual value per square foot: $110.50

Savings: $101.33


19. Midland, Texas

source
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Projected value per square foot: $214.22

Actual value per square foot: $112.58

Savings: $101.64


18. Allentown, Pennsylvania

source
Helen89/Shutterstock

Projected value per square foot: $185.89

Actual value per square foot: $82.75

Savings: $103.14


17. Oxnard, California

source
Michael Domingo/Shutterstock

Projected value per square foot: $403.05

Actual value per square foot: $297.75

Savings: $105.30


16. El Paso, Texas

source
cht725/Shutterstock

Projected value per square foot: $187.89

Actual value per square foot: $80.75

Savings: $107.14


15. San Diego, California

source
Dancestrokes/Shutterstock

Projected value per square foot: $505.52

Actual value per square foot: $397.75

Savings: $107.67


14. Fort Collins, Colorado

source
Downtown Fort Collins/Facebook

Projected value per square foot: $335.92

Actual value per square foot: $222.75

Savings: $113.17


13. Amarillo, Texas

source
Visit Amarillo/Facebook

Projected value per square foot: $196.39

Actual value per square foot: $81.83

Savings: $114.55


12. Chula Vista, California

source
City of Chula Vista Government/Facebook

Projected value per square foot: $402.77

Actual value per square foot: $281.42

Savings: $121.35


11. Overland Park, Kansas

source
Visit Overland Park/Facebook

Projected value per square foot: $262.32

Actual value per square foot: $136.08

Savings: $126.24


10. Chicago, Illinois

source
Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Projected value per square foot: $290.12

Actual value per square foot: $161

Savings: $129.12


9. Providence, Rhode Island

source
Dan Logan/Shutterstock

Projected value per square foot: $285.40

Actual value per square foot: $145.42

Savings: $139.98


8. Plano, Texas

source
Robert Nunnally/Shutterstock

Projected value per square foot: $269.67

Actual value per square foot: $126.83

Savings: $142.84


7. New Haven, Connecticut

source
Christian Hinkle/Shutterstock

Projected value per square foot: $265.04

Actual value per square foot: $115.08

Savings: $149.95


6. Charleston, South Carolina

source
f11 photo/Shutterstock

Projected value per square foot: $323

Actual value per square foot: $172.33

Savings: $150.66


5. Ann Arbor, Michigan

source
Destination Ann Arbor/Shutterstock

Projected value per square foot: $330.09

Actual value per square foot: $179.25

Savings: $150.84


4. Baltimore, Maryland

source
S.Borisov/Shutterstock

Projected value per square foot: $241.42

Actual value per square foot: $90.42

Savings: $151


3. Newark, New Jersey

source
Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Projected value per square foot: $241.99

Actual value per square foot: $81.92

Savings: $160.76


2. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

source
Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Projected value per square foot: $266.01

Actual value per square foot: $105.21

Savings: 160.76


1. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

source
Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Projected value per square foot: $265.81

Actual value per square foot: $90.67

Savings: $175.14