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U.S. cities where it's cheaper to buy a home than to rent one

Million-dollar neighborhoods
Neighborhoods where the entry fee is $1 million 01:17

The old maxim about finding a home -- "why rent when you can buy" -- might seem like a stale crust of financial wisdom in an age when rising housing prices have made that goal a stretch for most Americans. But in at least three cities around the U.S., it happens to still be true.

A recent analysis by property research firm ATTOM Solutions found it's more affordable to rent, rather than buy, that roof over your head in 93 percent of larger counties around the U.S. (those with populations of at least 1 million). Not surprisingly, that includes real estate markets known for sky-high prices and a shortage of a middle-class housing, including Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas, Miami, New York, San Francisco and other big cities.

But in three cities -- and only three, out of 40 counties ATTOM looked at -- buying a place is more affordable than renting: Cleveland (Cuyahoga County, Ohio); Detroit (Wayne County, Michigan); and Philadelphia (Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania).

Given the well-known economic woes that have long plagued these and other Rust Belt manufacturing hubs, the reason for that won't come as a surprise: Homes are cheaper there, noted Jennifer von Pohlmann, director of content and PR at ATTOM.

The median sales prices for a house in Philadelphia is $210,000 and $127,000 in Ohio's Cuyahoga County. In Wayne County, Michigan, a home may be purchased for well south of six figures, at $89,000.

That contrasts with the areas in California, New York and Washington, D.C., where median sales prices for a home now approach $1 million. Overall, ATTOM found that home prices in larger metropolitan areas are rising an average of 6.7 percent per year, while rents are increasing an average of 3.5 percent.

The following maps show where around the U.S. it's more affordable to rent than to buy a home and how much of your income you'd need to spend.

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