By Matt Wiley
If you’re reading this, you probably already know that Wesley Chapel is a great place to live. What you may not know, however, is that Wesley Chapel’s attractiveness as a place to live has been mathematically proven. With a formula and everything. Just ask the analysts at national consumer advocacy website NerdWallet.com.
NerdWallet.com analyzed 179 places in the state of Florida to determine which have the characteristics that are most favorable to home buyers.
The study attempted to answer three main questions:
1. Are homes available? We looked at the area’s home ownership rate to determine the availability of homes. A low home ownership rate is likely a signal of competitive inventory, more options for renters rather than buyers and expensive housing. Areas with a high home ownership rate led to a higher overall score.
2. Can you afford to live there? We looked at median household income and monthly homeowner costs to assess whether residents could live comfortably in the area. We used monthly homeowner costs to measure cost of living. Areas with high median incomes and a low cost of living scored higher. Thinking of buying a home yourself? Check out our mortgage tool to find the best rate.
3. Is the area growing? We measured population growth to ensure that the area is attracting new residents and showing signs of solid growth. This is likely a signal of a robust local economy, which is another attractive characteristic for home buyers.
According to the study — which examined the availability and affordability of homes, as well as the population growth percentage in U.S. Census Designated Places (CDP) with populations of more than 20,000 (as outlined on Census.gov) — Wesley Chapel ranked fourth out of the 179 places studied to own a home in the state of Florida, behind only Oakleaf Plantation (near Jacksonville), the Keystone area (near Tarpon Springs) and Fruit Cove (also near Jacksonville), in that order.
The area included in the Wesley Chapel CDP covers from County Line Rd. north to S.R. 52 and from Wesley Chapel Blvd. (S.R. 54 between S.R. 56 and I-75) east to Morris Bridge Rd.
Here’s what the study author Erik Martinez had to say in his analysis of Wesley Chapel: “This community, part of the Tampa metro area, is only a 25-minute commute north of the city. It has a home ownership rate of 75.4%, and its population grew at a rate of 10.1% between 2010 and 2012. It has a 120-acre park and will see expansion of S.R. 56 in the next few years, which will make commutes easier. Wesley Chapel also has its own Chamber of Commerce and Center for the Arts. And if it’s a place of leisure you’re seeking, look no further. Wesley Chapel is home to Saddlebrook Resort, which provides a relaxing getaway without having to leave your own community.”
NerdWallet.com analyst Maggie Clark adds that,“The 75.4-percent home ownership rate is an important metric, because it tells us that a lot of people in the area actually own their homes, which looks appealing to future buyers.”
Nerd Wallet also considered home affordability in the different areas, by analyzing the median household income and average monthly homeowner costs. The study found that the monthly median selected homeowner cost in Wesley Chapel is $1,658 and the median monthly household income is $6,153, which puts homeowner costs as a percentage of household income at 26.9 percent. In the study, areas with high median incomes and a lower cost of living scored higher, like Wesley Chapel.
The study’s top place for home ownership, Oakleaf Plantation, had a median selected homeowner cost of $1,789 and median monthly household income of $6,013, putting the area’s percentage at 29.8 percent. The state average median selected homeowner costs for 2012 was $1,581, while the state average median monthly household income was $3,.
“From what we found, Wesley Chapel is a pretty affordable place to live,” Clark says. “But, where the area did extremely well was in the growth department.”
According to Census data used in the study, the population in Wesley Chapel grew 10.8-percent between 2010-12. The #1 area, Oakleaf Plantation, grew by 16.2 percent.
“The (Wesley Chapel) community definitely is growing,” Clark explains. “The data shows that a lot of people are moving to the community and that the community is capable of supporting that growth.”
Greater Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce executive director Hope Allen says she isn’t surprised by the study’s findings.
“It’s great to see our community listed in a valid study that portrays (Wesley Chapel) in a positive light,” Allen says. “Our area is growing and I think this study gives home buyers real data to support their decision to buy in Wesley Chapel. I think this study solidifies what we already know — that Wesley Chapel is a great place to live, work and play.”
For additional information about the study, or to check out the 19 other areas that also made the Top-20 “Best Areas in Florida” list, please visit NerdWallet.com.