Best bang-for-the-buck cities
Solid housing markets, relatively stable employment, enviable cost of living and quick commutes make these metros among the country's most affordable to live.
Omaha, our No. 1 bang-for-the-buck city (also rated the city best surviving the recession), joins a number of Great Plains metros near the top of our list. These include Wichita, Kan. (No. 6) and Tulsa, Okla. (No. 19). This swath of prairie in the center of the country was somewhat buffered from the disastrous effect on coastal markets of the housing crisis, enabling it to emerge solidly from the recession. Housing sales here kept a steady, if slow, pace during the boom.
"Quite frankly, we saw both buyers and sellers staying away," says Dr. Stanley Longhofer, chair of the Center for Real Estate at Wichita State University, of the Plains States during a period when developers rushed to satisfy a ravenous appetite for new homes in much of the United States. "We didn't have any of the overbuilding of some parts of the country. As the general economy recovers, we're well-positioned to pick up where we left off."