6 budget buys in America's most expensive metros

The 10 Priciest Zip Codes in America

Living in any one of America's biggest cities can be expensive. With the average cost of a latte at almost $5, city dwellers on a budget can feel squeezed by a daily caffeine habit, let alone a mortgage payment. But if you're determined to find an affordable house in one of the priciest ZIP codes in the U.S., fear not: It can be done. If you find a good real estate agent, carefully follow the market, and are willing to negotiate, you can get a great home at a great price — maybe even for a bargain.

Here are six well-priced homes in cities with notoriously high costs of living (we're looking at you, homes for sale in New York, NY). All of these homes have a significantly lower price per square foot than the city average — although you may have to sacrifice living in the most desirable neighborhood or tack on a longer commute. If you find one of these diamonds in the rough, be sure to call your agent and snap it up fast — as any shopper knows, a good deal is often fleeting.

Cheap Homes For Sale In New York NY

This apartment will be gone in a New York minute: $348,950, 854 W. 181st St. #1K, New York, NY 10033

Presenting: a very New York apartment at a very un–New York price tag. This renovated one-bedroom apartment is in a prewar building with views of the Hudson River. At $411 per square foot, that's a whopping $1,000 less than the city average of $1,457 per square foot. And it's upgraded! Think Silestone countertops, Kohler fixtures, energy-efficient appliances, and bamboo cabinets, coupled with quaint original features like pocket doors and parquet floors.

Cheap Homes For Sale In Los Angeles CA

Cost-efficient single family home in SoCal: $349,990, 119 N. Mott St., Los Angeles, CA 90033

This cute single family home in the Boyle Heights neighborhood is a steal at $345 per square foot (LA average is $504). It's petite, with just two bedrooms and one bathroom, but it's fully updated with new paint, new granite, new laminate, carpeted floors . . . the list goes on. Plus, it has easy access to the freeway — an LA resident's dream. (Or waking nightmare, depending on traffic!)

Cheap Homes For Sale In Chicago IL

Quaint condo in Chicago: $100,000, 3705 W. Eddy St. #2, Chicago, IL 60618

With this cozy, one-bedroom condo, you won't have to choose style over location, or vice versa. Situated in the quaint, tree-lined neighborhood of Avondale, the building borders historic neighborhoods like The Villa and Old Irving Park and has convenient access to the Blue Line. The interior hints at the history of the area as well, featuring wood doors, trim, and hardwood floors. At $121 per square foot, it's priced well under the typical Windy City average of $187 per square foot.

Cheap Homes For Sale In Washington DC

Federal fixer-upper in Fairfax Village: $370,000, 3717 Camden St. SE, Washington, DC 20020

If you're looking for space, this Spanish-style, three-bedroom, three-bath house has it: The 1,356-square-foot house and expansive yard sits on three deeded lots! Built in 1928, the historic fixer-upper needs a little love, but it has great bones, including arched doorways and original hardwoods. At $272 per square foot, it's worth putting in some elbow grease, when you consider that DC's average home costs $466 per square foot.

Cheap Homes For Sale In Dallas TX

More bang for your buck in Texas: $109,999, 3311 E. Ledbetter Drive, Dallas, TX 75216

Looking for a starter home? This single-family home in Dallas' Cedar Crest neighborhood may be it. The three-bedroom, two-bath residence has been smartly renovated with a new central HVAC unit, new gutters, architectural roof, energy-efficient windows, and refinished hardwood floors. Even the doorknobs have been replaced! At $72 per square foot, it's a steal at almost half the average for Dallas ($138).

Cheap Homes For Sale In Miami FL

Welcome to Miami: $190,000, 21314 SW 123rd Place, Miami, FL 33177

Available on a rent-to-own basis (which isn't a bad selling feature if you want to try out a house or neighborhood first), this property is all yours for $99 per square foot, compared with the Miami norm of $174. Built in 2004, the home has up-to-date features like stainless steel appliances, wood floors, and a Vivint security system, which allows you to control your alarm, lights, and AC from afar. We're also digging what looks like a red-clay-tile roof — so MIA.

Related: Tiny homes for retirees
10 tiny homes for retirees
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6 budget buys in America's most expensive metros

1. New Hampshire Tiny Home

Price: $24,999

Size: 310 square feet

Location: Antrim and Alton, N.H.

If you’re just starting your tiny house search, this micro-cabin home might catch your eye, with its earthy vibe, and top-to-bottom wood interior and exterior. The one-bedroom, one-bath tiny home is perfect for retirees looking for low maintenance at an affordable price point.

“A tiny house has minimal recurring expenses, which will reduce the amount of money a retiree will need to draw from their retirement,” said Harrell.

The National Institute on Retirement Security found that 62 percent of people age 55 to 64 have saved less than one year of their income, far less than what’s needed to preserve their standard of living in retirement. So the reduced costs of a tiny home can be especially helpful.

New Hampshire ranks at the top of the list for best places to retire rich, according to a recent GOBankingRates study. There’s no sales tax, no Social Security income tax, no estate tax and no inheritance tax. The cost of living is higher than average, but a tiny house in retirement might change that.

Photo credit: GOBankingRates/Courtesy of TinyHouseListings.com

2. Idaho Tiny Home

Price: $15,500

Size: 160 square feet

Location: Hailey, Idaho

This charming, rustic tiny home is unfinished so you can add your personal flair. Or, you can use it as a studio or wood workshop for your retirement years.  This one-bedroom, one-bath micro-home on a trailer can also be taken anywhere.

You might just want to stay in Idaho, however, thanks to its extremely low cost of living. This state has some of the best perks in the country for retirees. Retire here and you’ll have higher-than-average deposit rates to grow savings. Residents also pay no Social Security, estate or inheritance taxes, and they have low sales and property taxes.

Photo credit: GOBankingRates/Courtesy of TinyHouseListings.com

3. Wisconsin Tiny Home

Price: $25,000

Size: 300 square feet

Location: Lomira, Wis.

“For folks considering retiring, but feel the numbers are right, a tiny house could be the difference between living comfortably and on the financial edge,” according to Hartwell.

Great homes can come in small packages. This home has two bedrooms, including a master bedroom just big enough to fit a queen-size bed. If you like openness, this tiny home has it, with vaulted ceilings in the main living area. Pine adorns the walls, giving the home an earthy feel. The house is not quite complete, which means you can put the finishing touches that matter most to you.

Perhaps in your golden years, you want to move around. This tiny home is on wheels, so you can park it where you want. Wisconsin would be a great place to consider living, however, as it has some of the best health care in the country. Not to mention, there’s no Social Security, estate or inheritance taxes. The sales tax rate is also one of the lowest.

Photo credit: GOBankingRates/Courtesy of TinyHouseListings.com

4. Wyoming Tiny Home

Price: $27,000

Size: 220 square feet

Location: Dubois, Wyo.

If you’re not ready for a one-level home, check out this beauty — a two-story modular post and beam tiny house. Although not quite complete, this one-bedroom, one-bath home can come with a porch and deck for you to enjoy at your leisure. You can customize it to your retirement liking.

Speaking of retirement, Wyoming is a great state for retirees. There’s no Social Security, estate or inheritance taxes, and it has low property and sales taxes. This tiny home is also quite a bargain in comparison to traditional housing in the state.

Photo credit: GOBankingRates/Courtesy of TinyHouseListings.com

5. Alaska Tiny Home

Price: $100,000

Size: 192 square feet

Location: Tenakee Springs, Alaska

This adorable Alaska cabin is located in the center of town, near historic sites like the Tenakee Springs bathhouse. This loft-bedroom cabin has a great ocean view, and could be a good spot for your retirement and sightseeing needs. You can visit the hot springs or go hunting.

Alaska is also the best state when it comes to taxes and retirees, according to the GOBankingRates study. There’s no Social Security, estate or inheritance taxes, and it has the lowest average sales tax rate of any state. Homes, however, are higher than average, so buying a tiny house in Alaska could be your best bet.

Photo credit: GOBankingRates/Courtesy of TinyHouseListings.com

6. South Dakota Tiny Home

Price: $19,500 and $10,500

Size: 200 square feet

Location: Spearfish, S.D.

Here are two options for a retiree: this South Dakota tiny home with a modern twist that’s move-in ready, or the same home unfinished inside for you to shape into your personal retirement haven.

Although the owner is willing to deliver the tiny home, South Dakota actually makes for a very fine retirement spot. For one, tax rates are low. And with higher-than-average cost of living, moving into a tiny house could really be a money saver.

Photo credit: GOBankingRates/Courtesy of TinyHouseListings.com

7. Michigan Tiny Home

Price: $55,000

Size: 400 square feet

Location: Traverse City, Mich.

If you’re looking for a vacation-style retirement home that is more customary in style, meet this 400-square-foot park model that’s fully furnished with one bedroom, one full bath, plus an additional 200-square-foot loft. Maybe the loft can be used for extra storage, an art studio or a place for grandkids to play.

Another great thing about this tiny house: location. Michigan is the cheapest state to live for retirees, according to the GOBankingRates study. In addition to lower living and housing expenses, insurance premiums are also pretty affordable, averaging $204.

Photo credit: GOBankingRates/Courtesy of TinyHouseListings.com

8. Utah Tiny Home

Price: $55,000

Size: 320 square feet

Location: Pleasant Grove, Utah

If you want low-maintenance living, you won’t have much upkeep with this modern one-bedroom, one-bath tiny home. There’s marble in the kitchen and bath, as well as laminate flooring. Modern siding on the exterior also helps to make it truly a home on wheels.

If Utah isn’t already a retirement sweet spot for you, then perhaps this will help: Retirees in Utah have lower-than-average property taxes, and no estate or inheritance taxes. Buying a tiny house is ideal, as traditional housing in Utah can be quite expensive.

Photo credit: GOBankingRates/Courtesy of TinyHouseListings.com

9. Arkansas Tiny Home

Price: $13,500

Size: 176 square feet

Location: Mountain View, Ark.

For those who prefer the woods, behold this micro-tiny home with a nature vibe. This house, however, is well equipped — with full insulation, wiring and plumbing — and offers two bed lofts. There’s also a two-burner cook top, so you won’t need to build a fire to cook.

Arkansas can also be a good choice for retirement. It’s actually quite ideal, with fairly low living expenses and tax rates.

Photo credit: GOBankingRates/Courtesy of TinyHouseListings.com

10. Florida Tiny Home

Price: $78,900

Size: 500 square feet

Location: Tampa, Fla.

If calling warm, sunny Florida in retirement sounds good to you, consider this sea-blue cottage house. It’s just one of the amazing floor plans available to be built by Home Care Suites. It’s fully customizable and built specifically with seniors in mind.

Florida can be a great option for retirees. Not only because of the beaches and endless sunsets, but also because there is no income, estate and inheritance tax.

Photo credit: GOBankingRates/Courtesy of TinyHouseListings.com


How do you seek out affordable real estate? Share your tips and experiences hunting down cheap homes for sale in the comments!

Photos provided by Trulia

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