Owning a home is considered a milestone for many American adults. The quintessential American Dream is founded upon the idea of acquiring a home and providing for one’s family through hard work. The housing market has skyrocketed over the last several decades, and millions of Americans fear they’ll never be able to own a house due to crippling student debt. But there are still affordable options to consider, particularly the starter home.


What Is a Starter Home?

By definition, a starter home is an affordable home for first-time buyers, usually through their personal savings and a mortgage loan.

Starter homes have begun to fall out of tradition in the 21st century; more Americans are buying an existing property. In the past, a starter home was typically a single-family home in a newly developed area. The families who moved in were the first to live in a neighborhood, and they quickly formed close communities.

However, as the cost of living increased, the average salary didn’t. Adults today who graduate with thousands of dollars in student debt aren’t making much more than their parents did back in the day, but the average American home costs double or, in some areas, triple the price it did 30 years ago.

So, a starter home will vary for everyone based on their budget. Suffice it to say that most people’s ideal starter home is a small to moderately-sized property that is affordable for the average working professional in the first several years of their adult life.

What to Look For

A starter home in 2020 will most likely be quite different from one in the 1990s or even the early 2000s. Today, a starter home might be a smaller, older house on the outskirts of a metropolitan city, or it could be a house that’s dated and in need of upgrades.

Many starter homes lack the modern amenities of newer constructions, but many have new upgrades, including energy-efficient appliances and electric stoves. A good starter home will accommodate a person’s needs for the next three to five years, but it isn’t what people consider a “forever home.”


Rather than raising a family for years, a starter home might be the house someone initially settles down in. As their family grows and/or they acquire more financial security, upgrading to a larger home in a nicer area is the next logical step.