Of course, in 2018, it's no longer always necessary to live within driving distance of one's employer. Skyrocketing home prices in Silicon Valley and its neighboring cities have sent many of its workers far afield in search of affordable housing.
"More and more people are now working virtually, which means they do not need to be in their office and can work from almost anywhere," said Ralph DiBugnara, senior vice president at Residential Home Funding. "So why not find somewhere to live where your city dollars can go a lot further?"
Separately, a number of large companies are moving into these areas, creating new employment opportunities while revitalizing the area. One example is home appliance manufacturer Whirlpool, whose corporate headquarters are in Benton Harbor, Michigan.
"It helped revitalize surrounding areas with new lifestyle and cultural amenities," said LeadingRe's Boomsma. "This type of corporate commitment draws a young workforce, who are attracted by the lifestyle, paired with the relative affordability."
For those who don't want to commit to buying a home, the Rust Belt also has a robust rental market, according to Todd Stofflet, Managing Partner at the KIG CRE brokerage firm.
Millennials are creating demand for new apartments, which is a "a catalyst for retail, grocery and office development," he said. "As downtown populations experience a resurgence, so does the dining, entertainment and lifestyle of the area."
Although cheap prices are tempting, Daniela Andreevska, a marketing director at real estate data analytics company Mashvisor, cautioned buyers to learn the reasons behind those more attainable prices.
"One should keep in mind that many of the homes there are foreclosures or other types of distressed properties," she said. "You should analyze and inspect the property well in order to know how much exactly you will have to pay in repairs before buying it."
Clarification: Leading Real Estate Companies of the World's abbreviated name is LeadingRE.