Criteria and Selection Process
We used the following four criteria to judge the largest 150 cities in the United States:
To be considered, a city must currently have an unemployment level less than the national average of 6.5%.
Best city for unemployment: Salt Lake City, Utah, at 3.4%.
"Worst of the top 10" for unemployment: Tampa, Florida at 6.4%.
To be considered, a city must currently have a median income of at least the national average of approximatly $44,000 per year.
Best city for median income: Seattle, Washington at $61,000 per year.
"Worst of the top 10" for median income: 4-way tie - Tampa, Florida; Orlando, Florida; Houston, Texas; and Salt Lake City, Utah, all at approximately the national average of $44,000.
Projected Home Value Growth over 3 Years
To be considered, home values in a given city must be predicted to grow greater than 20% over the next three years, as judged by Forbes real estate analysts.
Best city for projected home value growth: Phoenix, Arizona at a whopping 41%. This means that if you bought a home in Phoenix at the city average home price of $196,000, you should be able to sell it three years down the road for no less than $276,000 - an increase of nearly $80,000!
"Worst" of the Top 10 for projected home value growth: Houston, Texas at a still-impressive 24%. This means that if you bought a home in Houston at the city average home price of $191,000, you should be able to sell it three years down the road for no less than $236,840.
For this criteria, we compared each city's median income to that city's average home price. The math is simple: higher incomes and lower home prices make buying a home more affordable!
Best city for home affordability: Tie - Fort Worth, Texas and Boise, Idaho, both with an "affordability index" of approximately 0.303 ($51,000 median income divided by $168,000 average home price).
"Worst" of the Top 10 for home affordability: Salt Lake City, Utah, with an "affordability index" of approximately 0.186 ($44,000 median income divided by $236,000 average home price).