Breaking into the housing market for the first time is equal parts thrilling and terrifying, especially if you live in a pricey or highly competitive market. Notoriously expensive markets like San Francisco — where the average single-family home is about $1.3 million (yep, you read that right) and rising — are completely inaccessible for first-time buyers (because let’s face it, not many of us have an extra $260,000 laying around for a down payment).
Luckily, there are still plenty of small and mid-sized cities around the country that are affordable and welcoming for first-time buyers. Some of these fantastic cities even provide incentives and programs to entice new homeowners to invest in the community. Looking to set down some roots? Here are Livability's seven best cities for first-time homebuyers, based on affordable home prices, resale value, first-time homebuyer programs and — of course! — a great quality of life.