Intense competition in today’s expensive housing market has marginalized some first-time buyers, especially in metropolitan areas.

Typically, these buyers make up about 40% of the market, but they are now less than a third, according to the National Association of Realtors. The majority of millennials between the ages of 25 and 34.

However, there is still hope for home ownership. While the pandemic has stimulated a strong demand for housing, it has also allowed for more flexibility in where people can live, which benefits these first-time buyers.

So what are their best bets in 2021? Not surprisingly, the Midwest.

Four of the top 10 first-time buyer markets, as identified by realtor.com, are in the Midwest. Bloomington, Illinois, tops the list. Iowa City, Iowa, ranked second, followed by Kalamazoo, Michigan. Great Falls, Montana; Or Claire, Wisconsin; Savannah, Georgia; Schenectady, New York; Taylorville, Utah; Harrisonburg, Virginia; Rapid City, South Dakota. Some sources consider South Dakota to be a state in the Midwest.

All major markets have median home prices below the current national average of $ 370,000. Kalamazoo has the lowest average home price at $ 155,000, while Taylorsville has the highest at $ 350,000.

But it’s not just about price and affordability. To determine the best cities, realtor.com looked at house prices in relation to local income, the share of people aged 25 to 34 years living in the market, availability of homes for sale, employment opportunities, distance to work, and amenities such as bars and restaurants. Classifications were also limited to one city per state.

“With 50% fewer homes on the market this year than last year, the US housing market is competitive for all buyers,” said Daniel Hill, chief economist at realtor.com. “First-time buyers are at a greater disadvantage because they don’t have the money from selling a previous home to help pay their down payment or compete in bidding wars.”

Another survey of first-time potential buyers by realtor.com found that 44% of millennials said they don’t have enough to pay a down payment. However, part of this may be that they are not aware of the programs designed to help them.

“There are some great loan programs available only to first-time homebuyers that allow as little as 5% reduction without mortgage insurance,” said Jennifer Myers, a Doyle real estate agent who often works with millennials and herself. “There are programs like this all over the country and many first-time buyers are eligible but don’t know about these great ways to make their first home accessible to everyone.”

If a purchase is out of the question, however, the best cities to find luxury and affordable rental apartments are mostly in the south, according to another study by RENTCafe, an apartment listing website. Georgia, specifically the Atlanta area, took the lead. Cities in Alabama and South Carolina followed suit.