If you’re starting a career and can’t wait for homeownership, here’s where to move

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Once you’ve earned a college degree, you’re on your way to achieving the American dream. You’ll take another big step forward in that quest when you buy a home of your own.

The investment in a home can be a huge driver of a household’s wealth. According to the Federal Reserve’s 2013 Survey of Consumer Finances, the median net worth of a homeowner household in the U.S. was $195,400. For renters? Just $5,400.

Homeownership with a fixed-rate mortgage effectively allows you to lock in your monthly housing costs, and the equity you build up works as a kind of forced-savings program that you’ll one day be able to cash out (assuming your house doesn’t drop in value).

A new graduate might want to look at housing costs when deciding where to settle. In many metro areas, homeownership is largely unattainable for younger workers because of steep prices. But other places are relative bargains.

Here are some cities that that rank well for home affordability, according to the National Association of Realtors, and have characteristics that make them attractive starting spots for grads.

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