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We can’t all live in California


Climate change is in the news. We reported last week that most of the great cities of the world, built on trade routes, happen to be waterfront. This is not the greatest thing in our coming future of warmer temperatures, melting icebergs and rising seas. In spite of this, we just have this incredible affinity for water. We want to look at it, and if we can afford to, live on it. This is the pinnacle for most home-buyers.

I was thinking this week about affordability and how this relates to climate change and the popularity of waterfront cities. For fun, I looked up the most expensive places to live in the U.S. You won’t be surprised at the places: No. 1, the borough of New York, then coming in second and fifth, the outer boroughs, Brooklyn and Queens, catching up to their trendy sister. On the West Coast, in third and fourth, Honolulu and San Francisco. Orange County, Calif. was in ninth place, and our nation’s capital in 10th.

But let’s gasp and sigh, shall we? The average rent in Manhattan these days is $3,783 a month and the average home price is $1.36 million. Wowie, zowie! In comparison, San Francisco average rent was under $3,000 but just barely, at $2,925, and average home price under a million, at $820,000.

Now why, I ask you, would anyone pay that kind of money if they could avoid it? And it seems that they can. I couldn’t help but have a go at the other end of the spectrum, looking for the least expensive places to currently abide. And yes, I found good news. In McAllen, Texas, for instance, which rates as the third least expensive community in the U.S., you can rent a perfectly fine two bedroom apartment for $708. You can buy a house for an average of $178,000.

All of the lower priced communities on the list were located in the less fashionable states, most in the South – Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee – but one actually from the popular state of Colorado. In Pueblo, Colo., I found that you can buy a can of tuna for 83 cents, go to the movies for $8.50 and buy a house under $200,000. Yes!

There are many buys to be had in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, its museum featuring the largest collection of work by the American artist Grant Wood. In Rochester, Minn., home to the Mayo Clinic, there are over 100 parks, and the average citizen spends only 26 percent of their income (the average is just over $60,000) on their housing costs.

These numbers can be beat in Fort Wayne, Ind., where a home can be had for under $100,000, and in Lansing, Mich. with a median home value of only $85,000, which leaves plenty of change to enjoy the many restaurant options in both towns. In Ardmore, Okla., the average rent for a two bedroom, two bath is $550 per month which has Temple, Texas beat by a hundred a month.

So, why oh why, will you spend so much to hug the coast, east or west; It can’t just be the weather, which has been pretty challenging at best, with freezing temperatures in the east and boiling ones in California. Of course, the salaries are a bit higher in Manhattan than Topeka.

Just keep in mind, that there is life in the middle, and it can be had for a lot less.

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Posted by on Oct 1, 2015. Filed under Real Estate. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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