ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Rockford is rising the ranks, and for good reason.

A new listing looks at surprisingly cool places to live in the U.S. for under $150,000. Houses in Rockford cost 62% less than homes across the nation. That is one of reasons which prompted a Rockford native to call it home again.

“This ranking provides a little bit of balance,” said Conor Brown, CEO of Rockford Area Realtors.

A “MarketWatch” national study labeled Rockford as a “surprisingly” cool city.

“I think sometimes Rockford ends up on some of the bad lists, if you will,” Brown said. “What this list ultimately provides is affirmation of the things we know are great about this city and community.”

Brown said that it is no shock to him.

“When we compare ourselves to other mid-major cities, the amount of parks and museums, and cultural events, city markets, and sporting events, we just have so much going on, so there’s just a lot happening that residents can take advantage of,” he said.

Green space, affordability and commute times are what makes Rockford stand out. Marc Strandquist saw the potential in his hometown and returned after living in various cities.

“I’m within 15 minutes of three major hospitals and within 10 minutes of pretty much any doctor that you could imagine, any that I might need, and so healthcare is excellent,” Strandquist said.

Those qualities are attracting new urban migrants into the city, the study said. The includes Marc’s daughter Erica. She just moved to Rockford from Denver, and said that she saves more than $800 a month owning here compared to renting there.

“I like putting money towards a mortgage over rent,” she said.

She said that there is one other thing not listed that she appreciates about Rockford.

“Rockford has a lot of great foods, and I’m kind of a foodie, so I love going and exploring that kind of stuff,” Erica said.

The downsides listed for living in Rockford are high crime rates and long, cold winters.