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The best and worst cities for first-time homebuyers, mapped

There's no yellow brick road to affordable housing, but Kansas sure is nice.
There's no yellow brick road to affordable housing, but Kansas sure is nice.

Dorothy was right about Kansas. It's a great place to live, and there's no place like home — especially for homebuyers. WalletHub says as much, crowning Overland Park, Kansas, as the best US city for first-time homebuyers.

This interactive map shows how 300 US cities ranked against one another for first-time homebuyers. Indicated by blue dots are the friendlier areas for buying a home; orange dots indicate less-friendly places.

Let's be honest: The American dream is so closely tied with home ownership, it's difficult to name an example archetype of a successful American who rents. That is, unless your definition of success includes the Dude, who abided in an apartment.

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The average-but-special qualities of Kansas

What factors did WalletHub consider to determine that Kansas is so wonderful? The site looked at an index of factors that it believes make housing a good investment, including affordability, the living environment, and the strength of the local real estate market (read the full methodology here). Overland Park, Kansas, came out on top, but only in an average kind of way. Here's the list of the top 10 cities, based on WalletHub's three focus areas:


Five Texas cities joined Overland Park on the list, as did three Colorado cities and Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. No single city won the top spot in every factor ranking, which makes sense: Some cities have more houses available to buy, but the options may not be in good living environments, and vice versa.

Location, location, population

Overland Park, with fewer than 200,000 residents, hit a high of about 75 degrees on Tuesday. Beyond good weather, homebuyers also care about things like proximity to family, jobs, and lifestyle preferences. Since bigger cities tend to offer more options, let's take a look at how they ranked (again, blue is friendlier):

There's one big problem with using population size alone as a measurement of opportunity: Many cities are struggling to grow their economy despite a large population. A good example of this is Detroit, which ranked 104th out of the 300 largest global metropolitan areas in a Brookings Institution study of city growth since 2009. When comparing the growth of the same 300 cities between 2013 and 2014, Detroit ranked 237th.

So if you still want to buy in or near a city, consider a smaller city. In the ranking below, large is considered to be a city with more than 300,000 residents, midsize is 150,000 to 300,000, and small is fewer than 150,000. Just look at all these unusual options:


How do you feel about Frisco, Texas (and not "Frisco," California)? Maybe you're coming around to Overland Park, and starting to sway from Bryant Park. Wherever you choose to live, you'll need luck, patience, and a bit of the Dude's chill attitude to get there.

VIDEO: 220 years of population shifts in one map

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