Finding an area with good jobs and cheap housing is difficult in today's economy, but not impossible. For years, both coasts have boasted employment growth, while the Midwest remained stagnate. The Southwest with its moderate climate grew faster than any section of the country. The fast growth however, has left a glutted housing market, and fewer opportunities for new jobs.
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One of the best areas for very affordable homes is Deerfield Beach, Florida. But for those still working, the job market is not as inviting, as most employment opportunities are in the service sector. (For some other suggestions, see Top 10 Cities For A Career In Finance.)
For the best job opportunities, Bethesda, Maryland has seen a job explosion is recent years. It has one of the highest median family incomes in the nation. There are many opportunities for jobs here but housing can be very expensive - especially considering it is less than an hour's commute to Washington, D.C.
Combining several lists: the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Forbes, CNN, and Sperling's Best Places, these are the top five cities for both job opportunities and affordable housing.
1. Indianapolis, Indiana
This Hoosier city scored high on every list. The city boasts ten sports teams, an amazing city park system including Canal Walk, and one of the nation's top museums, Indianapolis Children's Museum.
Labeled both the Amateur Sports Capital of the World and the Racing Capital of the World, Indianapolis has one of the lowest costs of living for a major metro area at nearly 18% less than the national average.
The median price for a home here is $120,000. Surrounded by thriving suburbs offering easy commutes into the city, as well as a variety of city living options, you can find great housing as a good price.
The job outlook is very optimistic, with many jobs in management from the numerous corporate headquarters to scientific and tech jobs. The jobless rate in Indianapolis is less than 8% - that's nearly 3-5% below the national average. (For other cities with cost-effective real estate, see Top 5 Cities For Cheap Real Estate.)
2. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
This city surprises many people, as Pittsburgh is in the heart of the "rust belt," and known for its steel mills. Genuine hard work by the local government, businesses and the community has kept this vibrant city alive and thriving. Over the last ten years, nearly 1,600 technology companies have located here, including a Google campus. Neighborhood revitalization projects offer incentives to homebuyers, and old industrial neighborhoods are now filled with small businesses. It is also the headquarters to several financial institutions.
Ranked #1 as America's Most Livable City by Rand McNally in 2007, Forbes in 2010 and The Economist in 2011, Pittsburgh, is one of the best places in the United States for good jobs, a great community and very affordable housing.
3. Omaha, Nebraska
Corn may be king of agriculture, but Warren Buffett is king of finance; he resides in Omaha and that attracts big business. A smaller Midwest city, Omaha offers charming neighborhoods in a variety of price ranges, good employment prospects at dozens of Fortune 500 companies, as well as a low cost of living. (To help determine if you are ready to purchase a home, read Are You Ready To Buy A House?)
4. Columbus, Ohio
Ohio's capital and largest city offers an enviable arts and theatre community, including the Center of Science and Industry (COSI) (a nationally recognized museum), the Ohio State University (the largest in the nation), and it was ranked the number ten city by Relocate America in 2010. Great job prospects in the high-tech, agricultural and chemical industries, some of the best housing prices in the state and a very affordable cost of living make Columbus look very inviting.
5. Austin-Round Rock, Texas
A college town, Austin was ranked as the third-fastest growing city in the United States in 2006. Austin is an extremely diverse city, boasting a mix of professors, musicians, high-tech workers and a large gay community, Austin's slogan is "Keep Austin Weird." For the influx of high-tech corporations over the last decade, it has also acquired the nickname the "Silicon Hills." Nationally known for its music, it has a preserved its small local business base, has a vibrant and noted arts community, affordable housing and a low cost of living.
The Bottom Line
If you're looking for good job prospects combined with affordable housing, think the Midwest as it is coming back vibrant and strong. (To help you get a fair deal on your next home, check out 10 Tips For Getting A Fair Price On A Home.)