Location is so important when looking for a place to buy, but price and size carry considerable weight as well. Since there is an increased interest in living in less densely populated areas and many people are already planning to move due to the pandemic, in its most recent study, PropertyShark looked at how much house $250,000 buys in the top 100 largest U.S. cities.
Some highlights from the study:
• In the top 10 American cities with the most affordable square footage on our list, $250K buys over 2,500 square feet.
• In the top 10 cities with the most expensive square footage, $250,000 buys less than 600 square feet.
• Scottsdale is the least affordable large Arizona city since $250K buys only 971 square feet there.
• Tucson is the most affordable Arizona city out of the batch, offering more than twice as much as space as Scottsdale.
• $250K buys almost 1,500 square feet in Phoenix and a little extra in neighboring Mesa and Glendale.
• Overall, Texas and Arizona cities are on the rather affordable side of the spectrum, compared to New York and California.
Buying Power in the City: From 200 Square Feet in Manhattan to 3,000 in Memphis
New York — both the city and the state — has always been a place of extremes, and this holds true in terms of how much square footage $250,000 can buy. For example, in Buffalo, where the median home size is 1,713 square feet, that amount can procure more than 4,000 feet of space. Conversely, in New York City’s famously pricey borough of Manhattan, the same amount would buy only 232 square feet.
Looking westward to two of the nation’s artistic hubs, the location of the city once again results in sharp price contrasts. For instance, in Memphis, Tennessee, $250,000 buys more than 10 times as much space as it does in San Francisco — 3,324 square feet versus 269. What’s more, location also matters even in cities not as famous for their high costs of housing as San Francisco and Manhattan. For example, would-be urban-dwellers can buy 700 square feet more in Philadelphia than they can in Chicago — 1,745 square feet versus 1,060.
Open Spaces & Sprawling Suburbs: Five Times More Space in San Antonio than in Irvine
In Orange County’s Irvine — with its suburban-style homes and location near Los Angeles and the beach, where the median home size is a generous 1,861 square feet, $250,000 buys only one fourth of that space – 525 square feet. This lands Irvine’s median home price at almost $1 million.
San Antonio, Texas, a city dotted with suburban homes, is far more accessible. Here, $250,000 buys five times as much space as it does in Irvine: 2,503 square feet versus 500. Meanwhile, the cost per square foot in San Antonio is $100 as opposed to almost $500 in Irvine.
Offering a compromise between the prices in Irvine and the generous space in San Antonio is Plano, Texas. This city is situated just 20 miles from economic powerhouse Dallas and famed for its low taxes and high quality of life. In this area, $250,000 will buy 1,657 square feet of living space — three times as much space as in Irvine, but still almost 1,000 square feet less than in its fellow Texas city of San Antonio.
Seaside Cities: Three Times More Space in Tampa Than Long Beach
Living by the beach is often equated with a luxurious lifestyle and corresponding price tags. Yet, our study found that it’s not just proximity to the beach, but rather the location of the city that determines price per square foot.
For instance, with more than five miles of Pacific Ocean beachfront and proximity to Downtown LA and Hollywood, Long Beach affords only 506 square feet of space for $250,000. Alternatively, on the eastern seaboard, far down south — and in stark contrast relative to price per square foot — Tampa affords more than three times as much living space for the same price. Here, you can buy 1,764 square feet, as opposed to just over 500 square feet in Long Beach.
On the other side of the Florida panhandle, Miami is a more even keel between the previous two cities. There, $250,000 can buy 1,030 square feet — almost half as much as in Tampa and twice as much as in Long Beach, Calif. As such, Miami’s $368,270 median home sale is a middle ground between Long Beach’s $631,336 median and Tampa’s $270,738 median.
Dramatic Price Differences in Most Populous Cities: Double the Space in Austin Versus San Diego
In the country’s most populated cities with more than 900,000 residents, the difference in price per square foot between coastal cities and Texas cities is miles apart. As expected, vast Texas leads the way in providing the most space for the lowest price. In fact, in every Texas city we analyzed, $250,000 will buy more than 1,000 square feet. Specifically, in cities with more than 1 million residents — such as San Antonio, Houston, and Dallas — this amount will provide home-buyers with 2,503, 2,318 and 1,722 square feet, respectively. Likewise, Phoenix — Arizona’s desert city that’s also home to more than 1 million people — provides buyers 1,485 square feet for $250,000.
Meanwhile, with populations hovering around 1 million residents, Austin, and San Diego have vastly different pricing. In Austin, $250,000 buys more than double the amount of space as it does in San Diego — 1,139 versus 523 square feet.
Less Than 600 Square Feet in the 10 Most Expensive U.S. Cities
In contrast to Texas and Arizona, New York, and California have the highest prices per square foot, as expected. In terms of cost of space in cities with more than 2 million residents — such as Houston, LA, and Queens and Brooklyn — there is no comparing Texas to California and New York. For example, in Houston, $250,000 could buy 2,318 square feet, whereas in Los Angeles or New York City’s Queens and Brooklyn, it would only buy 524, 625 and 534 square feet, respectively — less than half the space in Houston.
Among the 10 cities with the least square footage for $250,000, the majority are in California. And, besides Manhattan’s 232 and San Francisco’s 269 square feet, the other eight most-expensive cities allow between 347 to 506 square feet. Los Angeles — with nearly 10 times as many residents as Long Beach — is almost equally as expensive. Here, $250,000 buys 524 square feet versus Long Beach’s 506.
The rest of the California cities are in the San Francisco Bay Area. In wealthy tech hubs like Fremont and San Jose, $250,000 buys 347 and 372 square feet, respectively. However, the area’s median home sizes are five times as large as those numbers, at more than 1,500 square feet in each city. Further north in less-expensive Oakland, $250,000 buys 444 square feet and is the only San Francisco Bay Area city with a median home sale price below $1 million.
As for the East Coast’s most expensive and crowded cities, Boston provides 397 square feet for $250,000, while the capital, Washington D.C., affords 477 feet. Likewise, in nearby Arlington, Virginia, the same price buys a mere 420 square feet of space.
Among the New York City boroughs on the list, only Manhattan is among the top 10 most expensive, where $250,000 buys just 232 square feet of space. Although they didn’t make the top 10 most expensive, $250,000 in Queens and Brooklyn purchases only 625 and 534 square feet, respectively. However, in Hawaii’s urban Honolulu, $250,000 buys only about half — 353 feet of space.
More Than 2,000 Square Feet in the Most Affordable U.S. Cities
Scattered on the East Coast and in the Midwest, the nation’s top 10 cities with the least expensive space allow between 2,667 and 5,407 square feet for $250,000.
For example, in Texas’s Laredo, Corpus Christi and Lubbock, buyers can purchase 2,863, 3,431 and 3,458 square feet, respectively, for $250,000. Meanwhile, Ohio is home to two of the nation’s most affordable cities. In Toledo, $250,000 buys 3,662 square feet of space, while in Cleveland, buyers can get 4,667 square feet — almost 10 times more than Washington D.C.’s 477 feet.
With the exception of Buffalo, all other cities on the list are in the Midwest. Specifically, in Lexington, Kentucky, $250,000 buys 2,667 square feet of space. In Fort Wayne, Indiana, that same amount buys 3,248 square feet, while in Detroit — the least-expensive city in the top 100 — the same amount buys an enormous 5,407 square feet.
Notably, in each of the top 10 cities with the lowest cost per square foot, the median home sale price was below our $250,000 figure. Furthermore, in each of these cities, the median home size is greater than 2,000 square feet. As a result, $250,000 buys well more than that amount of space — between 2,667 and 5,407 square feet.