Personal Finance

Here's how far $300,000 can really go when buying a home

Key Points
  • If you want to buy a bigger home, you may want to look at the heartland over the Northeast and West Coast, according to recent research from GOBankingRates.
  • Homebuyers should think strategically about where they work and where they live, and might even want to consider working remotely to save on housing costs.
Top States 2017- Cheapest States to Live: Arkansas
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When it comes to buying a home, $300,000 will get you more house in some states than others.

Personal finance website GOBankingRates used real estate website Zillow's home price index to determine just how far that much money can go.

Some of the results — which peg the Northeast and West Coast as high-cost and the heartland as more affordable — may not come as a shock, according to Cameron Huddleston, life and money columnist for GOBankingRates.

"What is a surprise is how much you're going to pay," Huddleston said.

That goes particularly when you compare the most expensive and least expensive areas. In West Virginia, the cheapest state, you can buy five times the square footage compared with Washington, D.C., the most expensive location.

10 states where $300K buys the least

RankStateMedian list price per square footTotal square feet for $300K
1District of Columbia$516.40 581
2Hawaii$510.29 588
3California$298.95 1,004
4Massachusetts$240.81 1,246
5Colorado$227.93 1,316
6Washington$203.38 1,475
7Oregon$203.04 1,478
8Rhode Island$195.24 1,537
9Montana$183.28 1,637
10New York$182.20 1,647

One surprise among the most expensive states is Montana, according to Huddleston, where an influx of residents who work on the oil fields has led to a housing shortage.

10 states where $300K buys the most

RankStateMedian list price per square footTotal square feet for $300K
1West Virginia$89.623,347

Those who work in expensive areas such as the District of Columbia might want to consider commuting from parts of West Virginia that are within driving distance to the metro area, Huddleston said.

Another alternative to save money may be to live in a more distant low-cost location and work remotely.

Barring those options, you can always take note of the low-cost locations for later relocation in your golden years.

"Perhaps it's not in the cards for you now while you're working, but in retirement moving might be an option," Huddleston said.

The data used to compile the research was from Feb. 28.

Pending home sales fall versus a year ago