Third-best city: Pittsburgh
Difference between rent and mortgage:
The Steel City and surrounding communities are home to more than a dozen schools, from the 28,800-student University of Pittsburgh to 12,100-pupil Carnegie-Mellon University.
Buyers will also find the lowest home prices and monthly mortgage bills of any town on Realtor.com's list.
The median Pittsburgh home listed for just $140,000 as of July, with an estimated monthly mortgage payment of $520. That's less than half the average $1,122 asking rent investors can expect from tenants.
On the downside, Pittsburgh has a declining population, which DuBois says can hurt home prices in the long run.
"Pittsburgh definitely has challenges, but it's got good universities, it's made big investments in arts and pro sports teams and the cityscape is interesting," she says.