2017 Best Cities to Build a Forever Home

Whether you’re planning to buy or build your dream home, Texas is probably a smart place to look.

Earlier this year, GoodCall® analysts brought you the Best Cities to Buy a Forever Home. But that list, which featured a lot of cities in Texas, raised the question: What if you are looking for a place to build your dream home instead of buy?

Analysts continued to crunch the data and determined the Best Cities to Build a Forever Home. These are cities where building a custom home is affordable, as is the general cost of living. The top cities are generally great places to live, with lower crime and unemployment rates, where residents tend to be more educated. The cities are growing and saw significant increases in home values as they recovered from the 2009 recession.

Edmond, Okla., came in at No. 1, propelled by its relatively low cost for a custom home (an average of $526,460), low crime rate (17 per 1,000 residents), and 22% gains in home value since the recession. The Oklahoma City suburb has an estimated 90,000 residents. Those Edmond residents seem to value education; more than 50% have at least a bachelor’s degree and more than 95% have at least a high school diploma.

The other top cities to build were Frisco, Texas; Flower Mound, Texas; Round Rock, Texas; and Rochester Hills, Mich.

Key Highlights:

  • Five of the top 10 cities were in Texas, and they all ranked in the top 10% of cities for the low cost of a custom home.
  • Most of the top cities are in the Midwest and Mid-South.
  • Cities with the lowest costs for custom homes also tend to be areas where home value growth was modest or nearly stagnant.
  • Cities with high home value growth tend to be much less affordable – in many cases the cost for a custom home was more than 15 times higher than the area’s median income.


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View the full rankings.


  • 30% – Cost to build a custom home: The average amount paid for a custom home, from Houzz.com, as a percentage of the city’s median household income based on the 2015 American Community Survey estimates.
  • 20% – Cost of living: The cost of basic needs, including housing, groceries, health care, and utilities, as compared to the national average. This made up 20% of the score.
  • 20% – Home value recovery: Median home value increase following the recession as a percentage between 2009 and 2015 according to American Community Survey estimates.
  • 10% – Crime rate: Data on the number of property and violent crimes per capita in 2015, from the FBI.
  • 5% – Net Migration: The percent population change from 2010 to 2015, based on American Community Survey 1-year estimates.
  • 5% – Unemployment: The unemployment rate in 2015 from the American Community Survey estimates.
  • 5% – College education: The percentage of residents older than 25 with a bachelor’s degree, according to 2015 estimates from the American Community Survey.
  • 5% – High school education: The percentage of residents older than 25 with a high school diploma, according to 2015 estimates from the American Community Survey.


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