Unlike coastal Florida, Lakeland isn't a fashionable tourist draw. Rather, it's a working-class community whose economy revolves around agricultural support for rich citrus farms in the surrounding countryside. It's also the largest metro area on Interstate 4 between Orlando and Tampa, serving the truckers and travelers who travel between the two spots. Incomes are a humble 16% below the national median.
The key to Lakeland's affordability? Home prices bottomed out in early 2011 when they fell to a median of $86,000, according to the index. Although they've recovered some since, they're still a far cry from the height of the real estate bubble, when they were a frothy $201,000.