Conditions have never been better for buying a home.

If 2020 has taught millennials anything, it’s how to navigate Zillow.

Whether a side effect of restlessness or a serious consideration, many have daydreamed of leaving their apartments and settling in someplace new—ideally somewhere with a good backyard and a home office. Though few of us are in a position to actually drop a down payment, data suggests that this is a great time to buy a home due to falling mortgage rates and rising personal savings rates.

If you’re one of the lucky ones in the market for a long-term pad, there’s a new report from fintech company SmartAsset that’ll help you focus your Zillow searches on the most promising cities for first-time homebuyers right now. The 2020 study was more extensive than in previous years, analyzing 185 major US cities as opposed to only 66 cities in 2019. It compiled the data using a dozen metrics that spanned four categories: home market favorabilityaffordabilitylivability, and employment.

The study named Grand Rapids, Michigan, the most desirable market right now—and that finding doesn’t even consider its superior beer and restaurant scene. Next in line was Henderson, Nevada, followed by the entertainment-heavy Virginia Beach, Virginia. Here’s the full list of standouts:

40. Overland Park, KS
39. El Paso, TX
38. Spokane, WA
37. Brownsville, TX
36. Aurora, CO
35. Lexington, KY
34. Scottsdale, AZ
33. Amarillo, TX
32. Nashville, TN
31. Lincoln, NE
30. Denver, CO
29. Fort Collins, CO
28. Des Moines, IA
27. McKinney, TX
26. Corpus Christi, TX
25. Sunnyvale, CA
24. Plano, TX
23. Pasadena, TX
22. Glendale, AZ
21. Madison, WI
20. Lakewood, CO
19. Jackson, MS
18. Arlington, TX
17. Bellevue, WA
16. Chandler, AZ
15. Mesa, AZ
14. Colorado Springs, CO
13. Peoria, AZ
12. Irving, TX
11. Frisco, TX
10. Sioux Falls, SD
9. Gilbert, AZ
8. Garland, TX
7. Omaha, NE
6. St. Petersburg, FL
5. Fort Wayne, IN
4. Boise, ID
3. Virginia Beach, VA
2. Henderson, NV
1. Grand Rapids, MI

This year’s data looks dramatically different from last year’s, most likely thanks to the larger sample size. Only four cities on 2020’s Top 40 list can be found on the Top 25 list from 2019.

The Southwest steals the show—11 of the Top 40 cities are in Texas and six are in Arizona. The Northeast, on the other hand, is notably absent from the report, largely due to its high unemployment rates. The highest-ranking Northeast city is Buffalo, New York, coming in 43rd place, followed by Pittsburgh in 64th.

The famously expensive coastal regions managed to get a few cities in the lineup. Sunnyvale, California, and Bellevue, Washington, shine on the West Coast, while Virginia Beach, Virginia, and St. Petersburg, Florida, on the East Coast.

See how each city scored in the four primary metric categories in the table below:


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Kyler Alvord is a news writer at Thrillist. Find him on Twitter and Instagram. Or don’t. It’s really up to you.

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