The phrase “starter home” doesn’t have to translate to “compromise.” First-time buyers might be surprised by how much they can often find in homes under $200,000 — in terms of space (indoors or out), features, updates, and curb appeal. Even better: You don’t have to be far from friends, either. From neighborhoods in major cities to city-adjacent suburbs, these affordable homes for sale prove that you really can have it all—even in your first home.
Roomy cottage in a historic district – $179,900
You know your neighborhood’s unique when your neighbors are turtles, owls, and historic architecture lovers. That’s just the case in South East Lake, where you can see the Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve to the East. Or, if your idea of a wild time is comparing the character of one sweet 1920s-era cottage after another, just take a walk along Second Avenue, where architecture buffs are restoring homes one by one. The landscaping is something to see, too, with 75 percent of What Locals Say respondents noting that yards are well-kept. While there are a couple of charming local restaurants (the comfort fare at Ruby’s Cafe is not to be missed), you will want to have a car here if you’re looking for a livelier night out. The good news: 86 percent say parking is easy.
Whether you’re a night owl or a homebody, you can get very comfortable in this remodeled three-bedroom, three-bathroom house. The big front porch hints at the spacious interior. Though the exterior is classic cottage, the inside is comfortable and contemporary.
Brick beauty in a tight-knit neighborhood ~ $154,900
Detroit‘s revival has attracted start-ups and artsy types seeking a lower cost of living, but the success lies in the community spirit found throughout the city. For instance, take Grandmont #1, a small neighborhood in Northwest Detroit with tree-lined streets and roomy old homes that range from cute postwar houses to stately historic properties. It’s overseen by an engaged group of residents who organize services like snow removal and advocate for community needs. You can see the results of this community in action yourself at Rosemont Acacia Park, a green space with a playground at the north-west border of Grandmont #1 that was saved from closure by residents.
You can be a part of this engaged community with this spacious three-bedroom, two-bathroom Colonial-style home. There’s plenty of space to entertain newfound friends, whether you choose to host a dinner party in the formal dining room or hang out for coffee near the sunny bay window of your eat-in kitchen.
A tidy two-bedroom with a sweet facade ~ $129,900
The sprawling capital of the Peach State isn’t just about the shiny new condo towers found downtown. Drive 20 minutes southwest, and you’ll find Kings Forest, a cozy neighborhood that feels right out of a ’60s family sitcom. The vibe isn’t just from the midcentury exteriors, either: 75 percent of locals say that they see kids playing outside and 33 percent say that neighbors are friendly—not bad for a metro neighborhood. Bordered to the north by the woodsy Melvin Drive Park (a place especially popular for picnics and tennis), there’s a notable sense of peace here thanks to zero neighborhood bars and plenty of churches.
You can live the old-school life comfortably in this cozy two-bedroom, two-bathroom home. The generous backyard is full of barbecue potential and backs up to a charming wooded area.
Buffalo, New York
Handsome home in a quietly convenient location ~ $189,900
While the character of the homes within the Hamlin Park neighborhood of Buffalo may be attractively old, the energy is young. That’s because Canisius College is located here—though the atmosphere is much, much, much quieter than the stereotypical college neighborhood. In fact, there aren’t any bars or restaurants, unless you count the requisite indie coffee shop (EM Tea Coffee Cup Cafe on Hughes Avenue). Here, students are seen and not heard. Perhaps it’s because Hamlin Park is really convenient to everything—one local called out how you are within walking distance to public transit, but you can also access NY-33 and 198 with ease. Whether you drive or take the train, you can expect to be in Downtown Buffalo in under 15 minutes (or drive to Canada in about 20).
Locals also highlight the “antique and big” homes here, such as this restored four-bedroom, two-bath circa-1900 house. There are three stories to call your own, all with original details like stained-glass windows and hardwood floors.
Colorful home in a walkable spot ~ $184,000
Often topping lists of best places to find work, Madison’s job market offers plenty of job growth in a number of fields (especially in tech, healthcare, agriculture, and life sciences). You’re right down the road from all of that opportunity when you live in Schenk-Atwood-Starkweather-Yahar. This small neighborhood combines the convenience of being close to the city with a little more breathing room. There are three parks to choose from, and the beloved Starkweather Creek runs right through the neighborhood. It’s also home to a highly rated Thai restaurant and good ol’ American diner.
All of the neighborhood highlights are walkable from this charming red three-bedroom, two-bathroom house. It’s got a roomy three-season room out front and a rooftop deck, so the toughest decision in this house will be where to put your feet up.
Unique two-bedroom with desert flair ~ $187,900
Sunny days are a given in Phoenix, to the point where the heat is best experienced from the comfort of your air-conditioned home, and a car commute is a must. Yet, the right neighborhood cuts down on the hassle of errand-running, saving your energy for better pursuits. Your to-do list is much easier in the South Mountain neighborhood, where the hardware store, gas station, Starbucks, take-out places (from chains to mom-and-pop spots) and the grocery store are mere minutes away. Most importantly, there’s plenty of parking, according to 78 percent of Trulia locals. Though this sounds like we’re describing suburbia, the desert architecture (read: sunset-hued stucco) adds a fun quirk.
You’ll find a bit more beauty in this two-bedroom, two-bathroom townhouse. Every detail shines like new, and it comes with a two-car garage.
Looking for a unique starter home in your favorite neighborhood? See what’s available, right here on Trulia.
This story originally published on January 30, 2019. It was updated on April 4, 2019.