It is a brutal reality of real estate pricing that the desirability of a particular area generally determines price. It makes sense; if many people want to live in a certain place, demand goes up. If supply doesn’t keep pace, prices rise. There are still urban areas in non-temperate climates that are magnets for jobs and, therefore, families. Given the steady demand, many baby boomers who have lived in such places for decades are looking to unload their homes and move to lower cost areas of the South.
But where are the bargains? The South isn’t quite as settled as other regions of the country and, therefore, it is possible to find great towns where the average price of a home for sale is less than $250,000, according to Business Insider, an online service. We don’t know much about Fayetteville, AR, the #1 city on Business Insider’s list for reasonably priced real estate, but we intend to visit there in the coming year and find out what is so special (besides low-priced homes). We are much more familiar with the seven other Southeast cities that made the top 25 list, including: Raleigh/Durham at #2, Charlotte at #8, Sarasota (#14), Richmond, VA (#16), Charleston, SC (#19), Greenville, SC (#20) and Tampa (#24).
Raleigh/Durham pops up on virtually every best-place-to-live list for its abundance of employment opportunities, top-flight services and entertainment options, a major airport hub from which you can fly to many international locations, and multiple major universities. Oh, yes, the Raleigh area also offers plenty of golf communities to choose as well. A couple of our favorites are Governors Club in Chapel Hill, with 27 holes by Jack Nicklaus; and Treyburn in Durham, a sleek Tom Fazio layout embedded in a beautifully treed neighborhood and part of the McConnell Group of golf courses (one membership yields access to a dozen great golf courses). But those choices only scratch the surface in this megalopolis of opportunities.
Charlotte may have been a tad later in developing than was Raleigh/Durham but it has just about caught up in terms of what it offers relocating couples with an interest in golf. North of the city, sprawling Lake Norman was a natural for golf community development. Popular with those who work in banking and other key industries that have evolved in Charlotte, Interstate 77 helps folks get into and out of town efficiently so they have extra time to enjoy the amenities of lake living after work. Plenty of other golf community opportunities especially attractive to retirees ring the metropolitan area.
If I had to choose a Florida city in which to live, it would be Sarasota for its location adjacent to the Gulf of Mexico, its sophisticated downtown vibe, and its emphasis on culture (e.g. the Ringling Museum). The huge Lakewood Ranch is almost a city unto itself with multiple golf courses, plenty of shopping and an intimacy that lives up to the promise of the “new urbanism” concept. As for Richmond, VA, we are perennially surprised that some magazine or rating agency hasn’t declared it a top 10 city for retirees. It has just about everything in the way of culture, great food, minor leagues sports franchises, universities that provide continuing education, and some friendly, reasonably priced country clubs, many at the core of golf communities. And although its location less than two hours south of Washington, D.C. is a mixed blessing -– proximity to the nation’s capital but occasionally dicey winter weather -– the pros outweigh the cons in this under-appreciated city.
For a rundown on all of Business Insider’s top 25 cities with real estate averages under $250,000, click here.