10 Safest and Most Affordable Places to Live in the U.S.

If you are thinking about relocating, safety and affordability might top your list of priorities. However, finding a place that meets these criteria without compromising on livability can be challenging.

This article unveils 10 cities in the U.S. that strike a balance between cost-effectiveness, safety and a quality living experience. Through careful analysis of crime rates, housing costs and other key metrics, we’ve identified places that stand out for their value without compromising on the essence of a good life.

Our Method: Finding The Safest & Cheapest Places To Live in the US

To begin, we started with available housing cost data and lists of affordable places to live in the U.S. In addition to affordability, we considered criteria such as trends in population growth and housing costs, unemployment rates and major employers in the area. Next, we evaluated that list against safety data, focusing on violent and property crime rates and including other metrics where available.

This process allowed us to create a list that — unlike some other lists you might find online — features affordable places where you might actually want to live!

Factors Influencing Safety: Key Metrics for Assessing Risk

In assessing the safety of various places, we relied on concrete data and clear metrics. Here are some key indicators:

  1. A. Violent and Property Crime Rates: A primary indicator of safety is the prevalence of violent and property crimes. Violent crimes include offenses such as assault and robbery, while property crimes encompass burglary and theft. Lower rates of these crimes often signify a safer environment.
  2. B. Emergency Response Times: The ability of emergency services to respond swiftly in critical situations is a vital safety metric. Shorter response times can often mean the difference between life and death in emergencies such as medical crises or fires.
  3. C. Socioeconomic Factors: Socioeconomic stability can significantly impact a community’s safety. Higher levels of education, employment and income often correlate with lower crime rates. Additionally, access to healthcare and other essential services contributes to the overall well-being and safety of a community.
  4. D. Community Engagement: Active community engagement creates a supportive environment that can deter crime and foster a sense of safety. Neighborhood watch programs, community policing and local forums for discussing safety concerns are examples of community engagement activities that can enhance safety.

Comparing these metrics across cities can help in identifying the safest places to live in the U.S. The interplay between these factors is complex, so understanding them will help us make informed decisions.

Factors Influencing Affordability: Drivers of Housing Costs

When evaluating the affordability of different areas within the United States, several factors come into play. Here are some crucial drivers of housing costs:

  1. A. Median Home Prices: One of the most direct indicators of affordability is the median price of homes in a given area. This figure gives a good sense of the cost of homeownership, and comparing median home prices across different cities can provide a clear picture of relative affordability.
  2. B. Income Levels: Local income levels affect affordability. Higher income levels in relation to housing prices can make an area more affordable for residents. It’s essential to consider the income-to-housing-cost ratio when assessing affordability.
  3. C. Rental Costs: For individuals not looking to purchase a home, rental costs are a key factor in affordability. As with median home prices, comparing rental costs across different cities can help assess which areas are more affordable.
  4. D. Transportation Expenses: The cost of transportation is an often overlooked but vital component of overall living costs. Areas with lower transportation costs or efficient public transit systems can significantly reduce the financial burden on residents.
  5. E. Property Taxes and Utilities: Property taxes and utility costs also play a significant role in housing affordability. Lower property tax rates and utility costs can make homeownership or renting more affordable. Additionally, areas with efficient public services such as water, electricity and waste disposal can offer better value for your money.

Taken together, median home prices, income levels, rental costs, transportation expenses, property taxes and utility rates give us a comprehensive idea of affordability. Evaluating these cost drivers can help potential homeowners or renters make informed decisions about where to live based on their financial situation and the relative affordability of different regions.

The Top 10 Safest and Most Affordable Places to Live in the US in 2024

10. Greenville, South Carolina

Situated in the northwest part of South Carolina, Greenville is a thriving city known for its rich cultural scene and picturesque downtown area. With a population of 74,548, an increase of 5.15% since 2020, it’s a growing community that still retains a small-town feel.

One of the most attractive aspects of Greenville is its affordability. As of October 2023, according to Redfin, its median home sale price was $435,000, an increase of 17.6% over the past year — indicating a strong appreciation in property value. Although the median home price in Greenville exceeds the recommended affordability threshold of four times the annual income for the area’s average household income of $101,490 in 2023, Greenville’s real estate market still presents a viable option for many, especially those relocating from regions with higher housing costs.

Renting is also a viable option in Greenville, with average rent between $1,144 and $1,465 per month in 2023. This rental cost, coupled with the city’s cultural offerings and employment opportunities, makes Greenville an attractive place for both families and young professionals.

In terms of safety, Greenville had a violent crime rate of 477.7 incidents per 100,000 residents and a property crime rate of 2,740.8 per 100,000 as of 2020. While these figures are above average for a city of its size and therefore suggest a need for caution, the city has also been listed on the list of safest cities in the United States due to its proactive community engagement endeavors including community policing strategies, local crime prevention programs and various other measures designed to foster a strong sense of community and reduce crime rates. Such initiatives often play a crucial role in improving the overall safety of a city, going beyond the raw crime statistics to create a safer and more secure environment for residents.

10 Safest and Most Affordable Places to Live in the U.S.

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There are plenty of employment opportunities in Greenville, and the Greenville-Mauldin-Easly area had an unemployment rate of 2.4% as of September 2023. Major employers in the area include Bon Secours, St. Francis Health, Prisma Health and Michelin North America, providing many options for job seekers, especially for those in the health and manufacturing sectors.

It is important to consider the upward trend in home prices, which, while indicative of a healthy real estate market, may at the same time pose challenges for potential buyers on a tighter budget. However, when compared with nationwide averages and considered in context with the availability of employment opportunities and a growing community Greenville is a compelling choice for those seeking a balance of safety, affordability and a culturally rich living experience.

A. Three Reasons You’ll Love Living Here

  • The picturesque downtown area with a welcoming small-town vibe
  • A variety of entertainment and recreation options
  • Proximity to the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains

B. Three Reasons You Might Want to Think Twice

  • Humid subtropical climate that might not be comfortable for everyone
  • Traffic congestion during peak hours
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9. Fayetteville, Arkansas

Nestled in the Ozark Mountains, Fayetteville, Arkansas is a city rich in natural beauty and cultural heritage. With a growing population of 97,697, an increase of 3.91% since 2020, it’s clear that more people are finding this gem of a city to be an appealing place to call home. Fayetteville is often recognized for being home to the University of Arkansas, which not only brings in a youthful, vibrant population but also provides substantial employment opportunities.

One of the most attractive features of Fayetteville is its affordability. The median home sale price, according to Redfin, was $363,181 in October 2023, a decrease of 4.2% over the last year. When the median cost is compared to the area’s average household income of $78,537 in 2023, homeownership in Fayetteville may be challenging for many, although still favorable for those relocating from elsewhere, given the higher nationwide average real estate price exceeding $400,000. For renters, the average monthly rent in Fayetteville is between $920 and $1,290 as of 2023, making it a reasonably cost-effective choice for many residents, including students and young professionals.

Although the city had an average violent crime rate for a city of its size at 344.7 incidents per 100,000 residents in 2020, and a relatively high property crime rate of 1,955.3 incidents per 100,000 residents, it’s essential to note that crime rates often differ substantially across different neighborhoods within a city. Some areas may have significantly higher rates due to various socioeconomic factors, while others might be relatively safe. Furthermore, local law enforcement and community organizations are continually working to improve safety and reduce crime rates.

The employment scenario in Fayetteville is promising, with an unemployment rate in the Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers area in September 2023 of 2.4%. Major employers include the University of Arkansas, Veterans Health System and Walmart. These establishments offer a wide range of job opportunities, contributing to the low unemployment rate and a variety of employment options for job seekers.

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The welcoming community, coupled with affordability and job market stability, makes Fayetteville an attractive place for individuals and families alike. The moderate cost of living and the diverse employment opportunities create a conducive environment for long-term growth, positioning Fayetteville as a compelling choice for those seeking affordability without compromising on a lively community experience.

A. Three Reasons You’ll Love Living Here

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  • Scenic beauty, with access to outdoor recreational activities in the Ozark Mountains
  • Growing arts and music scene, providing a creative environment

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8. Lafayette, Louisiana

Located in the heart of Louisiana’s Cajun and Creole country, Lafayette is a city that embodies a blend of unique cultural and culinary traditions. With a population of 121,322, a decrease of .55% since 2020, it’s a city that is generally maintaining its size. Known for its vibrant music scene, its spicy cuisine and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, this city is a hub of cultural richness.

A standout feature of Lafayette is its affordability in housing. With a median home sale price of $230,000 in October 2023, according to Redfin, a decrease of 5.9% over the last year, it presents a relatively low barrier to entry for homeownership, especially when compared to other cities of similar size. Given the average household income of $82,752 in 2023, the cost of acquiring a home in Lafayette is within a reasonable range for many residents.

Furthermore, an average monthly rent between $695 and $1,462 in 2023 makes it an attractive place for those looking to rent, including students and young professionals.

With a lower-than-average violent crime rate of 251.6 incidents per 100,000 residents and a similarly low property crime rate of 1,492.4 incidents per 100,000 residents in 2020, the area performs well in safety, especially for its size. Furthermore, initiatives are in place to bolster community safety and engagement, aiming to bring these numbers down further over time.

When compared with some other cities on this list, Lafayette faced a higher unemployment rate of 3.4% as of September 2023, but such a figure is still low overall, and the area offers job-seekers within the sectors of education and healthcare with major employers like the University of Louisiana, Acadian Companies and Lafayette General Health.

The overall cost of living, coupled with the city’s cultural richness, makes Lafayette a worthy consideration for those seeking affordability without forgoing a vibrant community life. The economic structure, driven by significant employers, along with the relatively low housing costs, sets a foundation for a balanced lifestyle in Lafayette.

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7. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Dubbed the “Steel City” due to its rich industrial history, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is nestled at the confluence of the Ohio, Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers. The city’s population of 295,793 is a 2.31% decrease from 2020, yet Pittsburgh continues to be a place of historical charm and modern innovation. Pittsburgh is also known for its arts scene, picturesque skyline and sports teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pittsburgh Penguins.

Overall, Pittsburgh’s housing market is attractive and affordable. The median home sale price was $250,000 in October 2023, according to Redfin, an increase of 6.4% over the previous year. Given the average household income of $80,248 in 2023, homeownership is a realistic aspiration for many residents. Additionally, the average monthly rent between $1,055 and $1,665 in 2023 gives individuals various housing options to suit their financial circumstances.

Safety-wise, Pittsburgh had a violent crime rate of 226.8 incidents per 100,000 residents and a property crime rate of 1,165.2 incidents per 100,000 residents as of 2019. These figures highlight a relatively safe environment compared to some other cities of similar size.

The unemployment rate in Pittsburgh was 3.0% as of September 2023. Major employers like UPMC, PPG Industries and U.S. Steel provide a solid foundation for employment within the city, especially in the healthcare, manufacturing and technology sectors.

Pittsburgh’s appeal extends beyond just affordability and job opportunities. Its cultural heritage, diverse neighborhoods and strong sense of community make it a desirable place for a broad spectrum of residents. Pittsburgh is an attractive choice for those seeking a blend of affordability, job stability and a culturally enriching environment. Despite the slight decline in population, the city’s resilient economy and the enduring appeal of its cultural and community assets make it a strong contender for anyone seeking a balanced and affordable living experience.

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6. Raleigh, North Carolina

The capital of North Carolina, Raleigh is part of the Research Triangle (along with Durham and Chapel Hill), renowned for its technological enterprises and academic institutions. With a population of 472,540, a 1.09% increase since 2020, it’s a city on the rise, drawing in a diverse pool of residents ranging from young professionals to established families. Known for its lush green spaces, a plethora of museums and a growing culinary scene, Raleigh is a city where innovation meets tradition.

The housing market in Raleigh is somewhat less affordable than other entries in this list, with a median home sale price of $415,000 in October 2023, according to Redfin, an increase of 5.5% over the previous year. However, given the average household income of $102,100 in 2023, many residents find homeownership within reach. Those who rent will find an average monthly rent between $1,331 and $1,664 in 2023.

Safety is a strong suit for Raleigh, which (in combination with Durham) had a violent crime rate of 295.4 incidents per 100,000 residents in 2020. These figures place it among the safer cities of comparable size. The property crime rate was higher than average, at 1,759.6 incidents per 100,000 residents in 2020.

The employment landscape in Raleigh is optimistic, with an unemployment rate for the Raleigh-Cary area of 2.9% in September 2023. Major employers like IBM, SAS Institute and Cisco Systems not only provide substantial job opportunities but also contribute to the city’s reputation as a burgeoning tech hub.

The synergy between affordability, safety and employment opportunities makes Raleigh a compelling choice for individuals eyeing a blend of economic stability and quality living. The city’s growth trend, paired with its thriving job market and relatively low crime rate, sets a promising stage for anyone considering calling Raleigh home. The blend of cultural richness, educational excellence and technological innovation further enhances the city’s appeal, making it a magnet for those seeking a prosperous and vibrant living environment.

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5. Grand Rapids, Michigan

Grand Rapids, Michigan is the state’s second-largest city, with a population of 195,911, a decrease of 1.14% since 2020. Known for its historical furniture manufacturing industry, Grand Rapids has evolved into a modern, vibrant city with a burgeoning craft beer scene and an array of cultural and outdoor recreational activities.

One of Grand Rapids’ selling points is its affordable housing market. The median home sale price in October 2023 was $266,650, according to Redfin, an increase of 5.7% over the previous year. This indicates a growing demand in the housing sector. Given the average household income of $72,017 in 2023, many residents find the city’s housing market accessible. Additionally, the average monthly rent between $1,300 and $1,616 in 2023 remains relatively moderate, providing a cost-effective living arrangement for renters.

The city has a lower-than-average crime rate when compared with similarly sized cities, with a violent crime rate of 327.4 incidents per 100,000 individuals and a property crime rate of 1,217 incidents per 100,000 residents in 2020. However, it is important to keep in mind that these are merely average figures and do not account for discrepancies between rural and urban areas, or from neighborhood to neighborhood.

Employment opportunities in Grand Rapids are ample, and the unemployment rate in the Grand Rapids-Wyoming area in September 2023 was 3.4%. Major employers like Spectrum Health, Amway and Steelcase contribute to an assortment of job industry opportunities, especially in the healthcare and manufacturing sectors.

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The upward trend in home prices suggests the ongoing potential for real estate investmentopportunities in the area. In total, the balanced cost of living, employment prospects and the welcoming community atmosphere make Grand Rapids an appealing choice for individuals and families alike. The city’s rich industrial history, coupled with its modern-day cultural renaissance, provides a unique blend of the old and new, making Grand Rapids a wholesome and affordable place to settle down.

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4. Huntsville, Alabama

Located in the northern region of Alabama, Huntsville is known as the “Rocket City” for its longstanding association with U.S. space missions. It’s a city where technological innovation thrives against a rich historical backdrop. With a population of 220,854, an increase of 2.7% since 2020, Huntsville is on an upward trajectory.

The median home sale price in Huntsville was $340,000 in October 2023, according to Redfin, an increase of 4.6% over the previous year. That price level, coupled with an average household income of $87,475 in 2023, makes Huntsville affordable compared to many cities. Those who rent instead will have the options at an average monthly rent between $1,044 and $1,164 in 2023.

Huntsville is a relatively safe city, with a violent crime rate of 262 incidents per 100,000 residents and a property crime rate of 1,262.6 per 100,000 residents in 2020.

The city boasted a low unemployment rate of 2.0% as of September 2023, thanks to major employers like NASA, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon. These organizations, primarily in the aerospace and defense sectors, not only provide abundant employment opportunities but also contribute to the city’s reputation as a center for technological innovation.

The confluence of affordable housing, promising safety statistics and a robust job market, particularly in technology-driven sectors, makes Huntsville a compelling option for individuals and families eyeing a blend of economic stability and quality living. The city’s significant growth rate underscores its rising appeal, and its rich historical and technological heritage adds a unique flavor to the residential experience. The lower cost of living, coupled with the dynamic employment landscape, positions Huntsville as an attractive and pragmatic choice for prospective residents.

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3. Lexington, Kentucky

Famed as the “Horse Capital of the World,” Lexington, Kentucky, offers a blend of Southern charm, scenic landscapes and modern urban amenities. With a population of 320,576, a decrease of .57% since 2020, it’s a city with a welcoming community vibe. The presence of the University of Kentucky adds a youthful energy and provides significant employment opportunities.

The housing market in Lexington had a median home sale price of $325,000 in October 2023, an increase of 8.5% over the previous year, according to Redfin. With an average household income of $88,901 in 2023, many residents find homeownership attainable. Additionally, average monthly rent between $1,353 and $1,519 in 2023 is relatively modest, offering a cost-effective option for those who rent.

One of the notable safety metrics of Lexington is its low violent crime rate (combined with Fayette) of 230.2 incidents per 100,000 residents in 2020, making it one of the safer cities of its size. The property crime rate for the same time period was 2,311.6 per 100,000 residents, higher than average for comparable urban areas.

The unemployment rate in the Lexington-Fayette area was 3.5% as of September 2023. Major employers like the University of Kentucky, Lexmark and Lockheed Martin offer a wide range of job opportunities, contributing to the economic stability of the city.

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The affordable housing, lower crime rates and stable job market make Lexington a desirable location for individuals and families seeking a balanced and cost-effective living environment. The city’s picturesque setting, coupled with its vibrant cultural scene, adds to the quality of life, making Lexington not only an affordable but also an enjoyable place to reside. The blend of educational opportunities, employment stability and reasonable living costs sets a promising stage for those considering making Lexington their home.

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2. Omaha, Nebraska

Situated on the banks of the Missouri River, Omaha, Nebraska, is a city known for its pioneer history, friendly community and a burgeoning economy. Home to 479,655 residents, a decrease of 2.34% since 2020, it’s a city experiencing steady improvement. Omaha’s cultural heritage, coupled with modern amenities, makes it a unique place to reside.

A compelling feature of Omaha is its highly affordable housing market. The median home price in October 2023 was $265,000, according to Redfin, an increase of 7.5% over the previous year. With an average household income of $90,389 in 2023, homeownership is a viable goal for a wide spectrum of residents. The average monthly rent between $1,020 and $1,505 in 2023 extends affordable living options to renters.

With a violent crime rate of 425.1 incidents per 100,000 residents in 2020 and a property crime rate of 2,249 incidents per 100,000 residents in the same year, it is slightly above average for a city of its size, but many neighborhoods are considered very safe.

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The balance of economic opportunities, affordable housing and a burgeoning cultural scene makes Omaha a promising choice for individuals and families seeking a blend of affordability and a fulfilling community life. The substantial employment opportunities, coupled with the low cost of living, make Omaha a pragmatic choice for those seeking a balanced, affordable lifestyle against a backdrop of historical richness and modern advancement.

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1. Des Moines, Iowa

Nestled in the heart of Iowa, Des Moines is a bustling city with a blend of historical charm and modern-day conveniences. With a population of 208,734, a decrease of 2.32% since 2020, it’s a city on the move. Known for its role in U.S. politics as the site of the first caucuses in the presidential election cycle, Des Moines also boasts a thriving downtown area and a friendly community atmosphere.

The housing market in Des Moines is notably affordable, with a median home sale price of $194,000 in October 2023, an increase of 0.9% over the previous year, according to Redfin. The average household income of $74,131 in 2023 makes homeownership a realistic goal for many residents. Furthermore, the average monthly rent between $833 and $1,035 in 2023 offers a cost-effective housing solution for those not looking to buy.

Safety in Des Moines is relatively good. The city had a violent crime rate of 336.5 incidents per 100,000 residents in 2020, about average for a city of its size. This figure suggests a safer environment compared to many urban areas. The property crime rate of 2,007.8 incidents per 100,000 residents for the same period was slightly higher than average.

Employment prospects in Des Moines are favorable, and the unemployment rate in the Des Moines-West Des Moines area as of September 2023 was 2.8%. Major employers like Principal Financial Group, Wells Fargo and UnityPoint Health provide a broad range of job opportunities, contributing to the city’s economic stability.

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The mix of affordable housing, stable employment and a relatively safe living environment makes Des Moines an appealing choice for individuals and families. The city’s steady population growth reflects its rising popularity as a place offering a balanced lifestyle. The strong job market, coupled with the low cost of living, positions Des Moines as a viable option for those seeking a blend of economic opportunity, affordability and a welcoming community ambiance.

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  • Calm and quiet living environment with a low-stress lifestyle
  • Strong sense of community with friendly and welcoming residents
  • Growing arts and culture scene providing local entertainment options

B. Three Reasons You Might Want to Think Twice

  • Cold winters with snow and ice
  • Limited nightlife and entertainment options compared to larger cities
  • May lack the diversity and cosmopolitan feel of larger urban areas

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Bonus: Choosing a City — Advice for Prioritizing Needs

Relocating to a new city is a significant decision that entails evaluating various factors to align with your individual or family needs. Here are some guiding steps:

  1. 1. Evaluating Trade-Offs: Every city has its unique set of pros and cons. Whereas some cities offer more diversity, others bring a better value for those considering real estate values over time. For instance, while Raleigh is growing rapidly due to an influx of tech sector companies, it might not agree with everyone’s sense of taste with respect to cuisine options or might pose a challenge for those suffering from allergies. Understanding such trade-offs helps in making an informed decision based on what factors are most important to you.
  2. 2. Aligning Budget and Safety Concerns: Budget and safety are two paramount concerns when relocating. It’s advisable to find a balance between the two. Cities like Greenville, South Carolina and Fayetteville, Arkansas offer reasonable median home prices and rental costs, making them budget-friendly options. Reviewing crime rates alongside housing costs can provide insight into how a city aligns with your safety and financial concerns.
  3. 3. Make the Right Choice for You: Every individual or family has unique needs and preferences. It’s essential to choose a city that not only meets your basic safety and budgetary requirements but also fits well with your lifestyle and long-term goals. For instance, if you are in the tech industry, a city like Raleigh, North Carolina, with its burgeoning tech hub, could be a suitable choice.

By evaluating the trade-offs, aligning your budget and safety concerns and ensuring that the city aligns with your personal and professional goals, you can make a well-informed decision that will serve you well in the long run. The key is to prioritize your needs and make a choice that provides a conducive environment for your personal and professional growth.

10 Safest and Most Affordable Places to Live in the U.S.

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Conclusion

The balance between safety, affordability and a desirable living environment is crucial when considering relocation. The 10 cities highlighted in this article exhibit a promising blend of these factors, making them worthy options for a variety of individuals and families.

Each city has its own unique attributes and potential challenges, but with thorough consideration, you can find a place that meets your needs and enhances your quality of life. Your next safe, affordable and enjoyable living experience might just be in one of these 10 cities. We hope you find this article helpful. If you do, please share it with others so they can benefit from it as well. Thanks in advance!

HOMEiA is a city living guide site where visitors can find detailed information about communities of interest. HOMEiA’s City Living Guides, created in partnership with local writers, are curated lists of the best, safest, and most affordable places to live. The guides feature the HOMEiA Score, a proprietary index that rates communities on such factors as housing costs, education and employment.

HOMEiA.com aims to be the premier site for people planning to relocate, providing them with insightful content and connecting them with skilled real estate professionals.

We also empower real estate professionals to establish or strengthen their web presence by highlighting their experience, knowledge and achievements. If you’re selected to join our list of certified real estate professionals, you will distinguish yourself from your peers — and earn HOMEiA’s support.

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