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South Bend Median mortgage borrower’s debt-to-income ratio: 34.5%

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Median list price: $160,000

News flash: South Bend isn’t Chicago. It doesn’t have the high prices (the median is $289,950 in Chicago,) expensive property taxes, and traffic of its gigantic neighbor two hours to the east on Lake Michigan. And that’s made the college town of South Bend something of a go-to for Illinois expats.

“They see how much they can get with their money,” says Beau Dunfee, managing broker at Weichert Realtors, Jim Dunfee & Associates in South Bend. “So they make the move.”

The city revolves around the University of Notre Dame and its Fighting Irish football team. The college and its respected law and business schools ensure that this city has a number of well-paid professionals. And these folks are buying up colorful 100-year-old Victorian homes that line the historic downtown.

“We really don’t see a lot of debt, because the homes are so affordable. People can easily save up for a 20% threshold,” Dunfee says. And bigger down payments mean smaller mortgages.