Where homes are affordable

A distant suburb of Nashville, Murfreesboro is catching the overflow from that city’s torrid growth, having more than doubled in population since 1990 to 101,000. The city claims it’s because of great "quality of life." Also helping is the presence of Middle Tennessee State University, the system’s largest with 23,000 students.

Murfreesboro’s real estate values never bubbled. New construction offset any supply shortages, and development was facilitated by miles of open land, all of which kept prices in check. Nice starter homes of 1,500 square feet sell for less than $150,000.

See complete data and interactive map for Murfreesboro

NEXT: O’Fallon, MO

Post-war St. Louis emptied as crime climbed and schools failed. As in many cities, that drove many families to the suburbs. Many of St. Louis’ prosperous migrants relocated to bucolic places such as O’Fallon, 35 miles west of the city off Interstate 70.

Life is serene here. The mostly recently built homes are set on large lots, and working farms and open fields flank new developments. Homes are affordable, with 1,600-square-foot three bedrooms going for about $150,000.

See complete data and interactive map for O’Fallon

NEXT: Rogers, AR

In 1970, this little city is the northwest corner of Arkansas held but 11,000 residents. What could have propelled population growth to nearly 60,000 today? Hmm, the nearest neighbor is Bentonville. Anything there? Well the corporate headquarters for Wal-Mart, the world’s biggest revenue-producing company. And Rogers is where the first Wal-Mart store was located.

The chain’s success has trickled down to the communities around it, but it hasn’t priced people out. The city has an inventory of many hundreds of homes for sale from million-dollar mansions to small places priced under $50,000.

See complete data and interactive map for Rogers

NEXT: Fargo, ND

Is Fargo famous? You betcha! Much of America relates to the Great Plains city by associating it with the eponymous Coen Brothers film. Not that Fargo the movie was an ambassador for the town. The film smeared the area as a nest of vipers led by stone-cold killers, corrupt car salesmen and ditsy prostitutes, not to mention the bleak winter weather.

The reality is different. Fargo has one of the lowest unemployment rates around, a microscopic 3.5% in May. Crime is nearly non-existent. The open spaces afford the town room to grow and easily developable land has kept home prices in check.

See complete data and interactive map for Fargo

NEXT: Springdale, AR

Another Wal-Mart satellite city in northwestern Arkansas, Springdale is also home to Tyson Foods, making it "The Chicken Capital of the World." The city is mostly white, Protestant and church-going, but there is also a substantial Hispanic population.

The housing market has seen slow, steady home price growth over the past 10 years, a pace slowed recently by the housing bust. Today, many homes of 1,400 square feet with three bedrooms and two baths sell for about $125,000.

See complete data and interactive map for Springdale

NEXT: Washington, NJ

Few New York City suburbs offer housing market bargains as sharp as Washington’s, but homebuyers who work in Manhattan trade affordability for commute time. At best, it’s a good 65 miles to the city. Fortunately, many town residents find employment closer to home in the many office and industrial parks of northern New Jersey.

Home prices are very low, especially considering the high median income. A like-new 3,000-square-foot house can be bought for $350,000 or less.

See complete data and interactive map for Washington

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