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The best places to own a home – and pay less in taxes

Key Points
  • A new report analyzes median home values, state and local income tax rates, sales and use tax rates, median real estate taxes paid and effective property tax rates across the country.
  • Hialeah, Florida, just outside of Miami, came out on top of the list of best cities in which to own a home and save on taxes.
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Homeownership comes with a lot of extra expenses, mostly thanks to the taxman.

Due to increasing demand and limited inventory, the nationwide median sale price has reached $226,800, according to Zillow. Values have gone up 5.4% over the past year and are expected to rise another 2.5% in the next year.

On top of that, state and local income taxes, property tax and sales tax can drastically increase the tab, depending on where you live.

To help would-be homeowners keep their budgets in check, personal finance website GoBankingRates determined the best places in which to buy or own a home by looking at median home values as well as state and local tax rates, including income, sales and use tax rates (where applicable) and property taxes as a percentage of market value. The study of the 200 largest U.S. cities is based on data from Zillow and the Census Bureau's 2017 American Community Survey.

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In the best spots, the combination of low taxes and affordable homes that are still increasing in value make owning property more desirable compared with some of the country's pricier locales.

It may come as no surprise that three cities in Florida snagged spots in the top 10: The Sunshine State benefits from a low cost of living and favorable property taxes, as well as no personal income tax at all.

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Alternatively, Jersey City was the only metro area in New Jersey to crack the top of the list, thanks to appreciating home values and relatively affordable prices, even though property taxes were above average.

"If you buy there, it's an excellent investment," said Andrew DePietro, GoBankingRates' lead researcher and data analyst.

Here are the top 10 cities for home buyers:

  1. Hialeah, Florida
    Median home value: $286,300
    State income tax rate: 0%
    Effective property tax rate: 0.513%
  2. St. Petersburg, Florida
    Median home value: $216,400
    State income tax rate: 0%
    Effective property tax rate: 0.647%
  3. North Las Vegas, Nevada
    Median home value: $261,500
    State income tax rate: 0%
    Effective property tax rate: 0.529%
  4. Fremont, California
    Median home value: $1,120,700
    State income tax rate: 9.3%
    Effective property tax rate: 0.513%
  5. Jersey City, New Jersey
    Median home value: $483,900
    State income tax rate: 5.53%
    Effective property tax rate: 1.518%
  6. Tampa, Florida
    Median home value: $221,100
    State income tax rate: 0%
    Effective property tax rate: 0.742%
  7. Reno, Nevada
    Median home value: $370,200
    State income tax rate: 0%
    Effective property tax rate: 0.451%
  8. Las Vegas
    Median home value: $275,500
    State income tax rate: 0%
    Effective property tax rate: 0.555%
  9. Dallas
    Median home value: $214,400
    State income tax rate: 0%
    Effective property tax rate: 1.393%
  10. Salt Lake City
    Median home value: $397,600
    State income tax rate: 4.95%
    Effective property tax rate: 0.481%

At the bottom of the ranking, Rochester, New York, boasts a whopping 3.4% property tax rate, well above the national average of 1%, and expensive homes that are not appreciating in value, according to GoBankingRates.

There, "you are getting a poor return and you are also paying a ton in taxes," DePietro said.

Considering that many families spend more than 100% of their income on monthly expenses alone, a separate study by GoBankingRates identified the top U.S. cities where you can still purchase a house with a monthly mortgage payment of $1,000 or less. (Click to enlarge the map below.)

cities less than 1K map DICKLER 041618 EC

To determine the effective property tax in each city, GoBankingRates used the median real estate property taxes paid from the U.S. Census Bureau — $2,986 in Dallas, for example — and then divided by the median home value, or $214,400 in the case of Dallas.

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