Much like "jumbo shrimp," "civil war," or "working vacation," the phrase "affordable mansion" seems the most moronic of oxymorons. But we're here to tell you: It's a real thing! Contrary to popular belief, buying a great big house of your own does not require a winning Mega Millions ticket or fat trust fund. You just need to look in the right places.
That's why the trusty data team at realtor.com sussed out the cities where buyers can score an affordable, large home clocking in at 5,000 square feet and above. Just don't hold your breath waiting to snag a massive place in Seattle's Laurelhurst neighborhood, or Manhattan's Upper East Side. No, you'll need to set your sights a bit farther off the (glam) beaten path.
"A mansion in Alabama is going to be very different from a mansion in Beverly Hills,” says Michael Corbett, author and TV host of Extra’s "Mansions and Millionaires." "The difference is how they're defined. In smaller cities, [a mansion is] big room count and square footage. In Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Manhattan, it's amenities: the indoor spa, the wine cellar, and all that stuff."
As long as buyers stay away from the costly coasts, there are plenty of reasonably priced, extra-large houses available in the Midwest and South—where land and construction costs are cheaper and housing demand less frantic. There are also one-time industrial powerhouse cities that have plenty of historic mansions, once owned by local titans of industry, for sale.
To find out where buyers can get the most mansion for their moolah, we searched for the cities with the most affordable homes of 5,000 square feet or larger on realtor.com. They had to have at least 100 mansion listings to be included in our ranking, and we limited our list to just one city per state to achieve geographic diversity.