Home prices just depend on where you live - Jan, 2007

Are their still reasonable places to buy houses?

If you live in a high cost of living area you might think that housing prices are insane everywhere. You are constantly hearing in the media how high the average home price is across the country. But, there are still many affordable places left ot live.

Two High Cost of living areas

Please sit down and keep your jaw away from the floor before you continue reading

Palo Alto

3 Bed, 2 Bath

1,380 Sq. Ft.


By the way, when I ran this query on Jan 30th, 2007 this was the second lowest price in my range that went to $1,000,000. But hurry quick as there were less than 30 properties in this price range


3 Bed, 1.5 Bath

1350 Sq. Ft.


To be fair in this assessment I found the cheapest Seattle property with similar square footage.

According to a CNN Report the median home price in the US in 2006 was $217,900. But, if all we go by is this value we are not seeing the whole story. Obviously with Palo Alto and other high cost areas in the stratosphere there must be areas in the U.S. with affordable housing.

Two affordable Cost of living areas

San Antonio

3 Bed, 2 Bath

1208 Sq. Ft.


Fort Wayne

3 Bed, 2 Bath

1341 Sq. Ft.


As you can clearly see housing prices are pretty variant across the country. Here is what the $269,950 Seattle price will buy you in Fort Wayne. Imagine what you get for the Palo Alto price. Move over George Jefferson. Also, you may want to plug these prices into my free amortization spreadsheet (download here) and get an idea how much it will cost you to live in these areas.

5 Bed, 4 Bath

2400 Sq. Ft.


You must keep in mind that the wages will be much lower in markets where the housing prices are significantly lower. $35,000 in Fort Wayne is like $70,000 in Los Angeles.

What if you want to stay in your general area?

In many cases moving 60-90 minutes from your current location can save you 15-40% or more on both housing costs and property taxes. It is easy enough to do the research on the internet before venturing out to check out the new "would be" location. Such an excusion can prove to make a nice day trip.

An example

Lets take our Seattle house and see what we can get by heading up North about 60-75 minutes to the town of Mount Vernon

3 Bed, 1.75 Bath

1128 Sq. Ft.


We end up saving $51,000 by moving an hour or so outside of the city. This represents a savings of about 19%.

Researching new places to live

Whether you are looking to relocate for retirement or whatever the reason, you should first do some up-front homework. The web makes it easy to research prices. Of course you still need to take measures to make sure the homes are not located "in the hood". Never buy a property or make an offer without first making a physical inspection of the place.

You can also get information on towns, cities, and communities from the web. Most have their own webites, and can give you a good sense of the services and lifestyle that is available in the community.