Deseret News photo illustration

Buying a home is a big step in life, but it's an expensive one. But the expense doesn't have to be as big depending on where you choose to live, according to data from the National Association of Realtors. The group's "Housing Affordability Index" ranks metropolitan areas on how easily a family earning the median income can qualify for a mortgage. A value of 100 means a median-income family has exactly enough to qualify for a mortgage. An HAI score of 120.0 means a family in the area has 120 percent of the income necessary to qualify for a mortgage. The following is a ranking of the top 30 cities where affordability has increased the most.

30 New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner, LA
joseph a via Flickr

Change in affordability index: 14.81 percent

Home affordability score: 160.06

Median Income: $29,423

Median home value: $173,500

29 Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor, OH
Dougtone via Flickr

Change in affordability index: 14.83 percent

Home affordability score: 204.06

Median Income: $30,123

Median home value: $138,800

28 Gainesville, FL
KlipschFan via Flickr

Change in affordability index: 14.95 percent

Home affordability score: 125.85

Median Income: $24,982

Median home value: $162,200

27 Columbus, OH
Dougtone via Flickr

Change in affordability index: 15.04 percent

Home affordability score: 161.04

Median Income: $31,406

Median home value: $159,800

26 Lansing-E.Lansing, MI
churl via Flickr

Change in affordability index: 15.33 percent

Home affordability score: 234.94

Median Income: $23,582

Median home value: $128,900

25 Sacramento--Arden-Arcade--Roseville, CA
www78 via Flickr

Change in affordability index: 15.36 percent

Home affordability score: 125.8

Median Income: $31,441

Median home value: $252,000

24 Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI
web@kstp.com

Change in affordability index: 15.52 percent

Home affordability score: 158.44

Median Income: $35,533

Median home value: $210,300

23 Reno-Sparks, NV
RobertCiavarro via Flickr

Change in affordability index: 16.12 percent

Home affordability score: 134.02

Median Income: $28,068

Median home value: $176,600

22 Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, FL
StevenM_61 via Flickr

Change in affordability index: 16.16 percent

Home affordability score: 165.59

Median Income: $25,182

Median home value: $128,600

21 Hagerstown-Martinsburg, MD-WV
Mr. T in DC via Flickr

Change in affordability index: 16.19 percent

Home affordability score: 134.41

Median Income: $30,749

Median home value: $182,600

20 Jacksonville, FL
Areopagus via Flickr

Change in affordability index: 16.51 percent

Home affordability score: 167.79

Median Income: $30,291

Median home value: $158,500

19 Dayton, OH
madaise via Flickr

Change in affordability index: 16.8 percent

Home affordability score: 201.28

Median Income: $26,756

Median home value: $124,200

18 NY: Edison, NJ
jenniever via Flickr

Change in affordability index: 16.84 percent

Home affordability score: 88.03

Median Income: $36,404

Median home value: $410,300

17 Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Miami Beach, FL
Exploratus via Flickr

Change in affordability index: 17.11 percent

Home affordability score: 125.3

Median Income: $26,841

Median home value: $174,000

16 Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI
enric archivell via Flickr

Change in affordability index: 17.25 percent

Home affordability score: 123.34

Median Income: $30,977

Median home value: $198,500

15 Norwich-New London, CT
Dougtone via Flickr

Change in affordability index: 18.02 percent

Home affordability score: 133.06

Median Income: $33,084

Median home value: $252,600

14 Dover, DE
Jimmywayne via Flickr

Change in affordability index: 18.27 percent

Home affordability score: 94.27

Median Income: $30,016

Median home value: $200,200

13 Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC
Phong Nguyen via Flickr

Change in affordability index: 18.89 percent

Home affordability score: 116.28

Median Income: $30,295

Median home value: $239,900

12 Salt Lake City, UT
Ravell Call, Deseret News

Change in affordability index: 19.3 percent

Home affordability score: 111.03

Median Income: $28,708

Median home value: $226,200

11 Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA
k1ng via Flickr

Change in affordability index: 20.71 percent

Home affordability score: 206

Median Income: $30,852

Median home value: $166,100

10 Cumberland, MD-WV
Dougtone via Flickr

Change in affordability index: 20.97 percent

Home affordability score: 188.36

Median Income: $21,484

Median home value: $122,300

9 Boise City-Nampa, ID
gharness via Flickr

Change in affordability index: 22.22 percent

Home affordability score: 152.47

Median Income: $25,643

Median home value: $157,700

8 Rockford, IL
ifmuth via Flickr

Change in affordability index: 22.31 percent

Home affordability score: 189.95

Median Income: $26,969

Median home value: $127,900

7 Tucson, AZ
nim via Flickr

Change in affordability index: 23.13 percent

Home affordability score: 140.15

Median Income: $25,868

Median home value: $165,700

6 Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ
Kinkisharyo via Flickr

Change in affordability index: 24.87 percent

Home affordability score: 162.01

Median Income: $30,462

Median home value: $155,600

5 Mobile, AL
Nouhailler via Flickr

Change in affordability index: 25.14 percent

Home affordability score: 164.37

Median Income: $27,080

Median home value: $121,700

4 Salem, OR
Dougtone via Flickr

Change in affordability index: 25.87 percent

Home affordability score: 120.72

Median Income: $23,329

Median home value: $194,600

3 Akron, OH
OZinOH via Flickr

Change in affordability index: 26.04 percent

Home affordability score: 218.54

Median Income: $28,095

Median home value: $139,800

2 Gulfport-Biloxi, MS
mrbill via Flickr

Change in affordability index: 27.49 percent

Home affordability score: 177.48

Median Income: $24,786

Median home value: $133,700

1 Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ
joseph a via Flickr

Change in affordability index: 27.95 percent

Home affordability score: 111.55

Median Income: $30,661

Median home value: $208,100