For many, the tradeoff between space and cost is a deciding factor on where they choose to settle down. Should you buy a tiny studio in Manhattan or a starter home in Charlotte? The reality is that living in certain places often means downsizing your expectations.
But we at RealtyHop wondered just how drastic these tradeoffs were between cities. Are there hidden gems where you wouldn’t have to sacrifice size for desirability? In our second annual report, we calculated the amount of square footage you’d be able to buy in every major city in America at the current national median home sales price of $375K. Our results provide a snapshot of where your dollar goes furthest, and where you may just get everything you’re hoping for in a new home.
- At the current national median home price of $375K, San Francisco gets the least space at 374 square feet, while Detroit gets the most at 5109 square feet.
- California is again the most space-constrained state, with 11 out of the 20 cities with the most expensive price per square foot.
- Despite unaffordable housing prices nationally, there are desirable cities where you can find solid deals. At the national median, Winston-Salem, NC at 2,647 square feet, San Antonio, TX at 2,268 square feet, Houston, TX at 1,932 square feet, and Richmond, VA at 1,779 square feet were all great options.
- Hialeah, FL saw the largest spike in price per square foot this past year, up 16.51% to $288.76.
- New York City edged closer to San Francisco in price per square foot, with the city’s median jumping 5.84% over the past year to $917.89.
Cities where you get the most space for $375K
1. Detroit, MI — 5,109 square feet
Looking for the best bang for your buck in terms of space? Detroit has the lowest price per square foot among all cities in the country at just $69.30, meaning that $375K would get you a giant 5,109-square-foot house. For perspective, this is 13.6 times larger than the most expensive city, San Francisco.
2. Birmingham, AL — 4,962 square feet
Birmingham came in a close second, with an affordable price per square foot of $84.97. At this rate, a family purchasing a home at the median national home price could get 4,962 square feet of living space.
3. Cleveland, OH — 4,186 square feet
Those looking to move to Cleveland will be happy to know that they can get 4,186 square feet of living space for the national median price of $375K. The city’s price per square foot of $79.68 was also 11% lower year-over-year, making the market even more affordable.
4. Lubbock, TX — 3,824 square feet
At $108.93 per square foot, Lubbock came in as the fourth city where you can get the most space. For $375K, a family can get over 3,800 square feet of living space in their new home.
5. Wichita, KS — 3,723 square feet
At the national average, a homebuyer in Wichita can get an enormous 3,723-square-foot home, given the city’s price per square foot of $108.26.
Cities where you get the least space for $375K
1. San Francisco, CA — 374 square feet
San Francisco once again came in as the most space-constrained city in the U.S., with the national median home sales price of $375K would only yield 374 square feet of space. Despite a 4.12% drop, the city remains incredibly expensive at $961.80 per square foot.
2. New York, NY — 432 square feet
While many cities have seen prices cool off from the price hikes seen over the past year, New York continued to climb. The average price per square foot in the city rose 5.84% year over year to $917.89, meaning that the national average would only get you a tiny 432 square foot studio.
3. Fremont, CA — 459 square feet
Given its proximity to San Francisco, it’s no wonder Fremont is the third most space-constrained city for the price. A tiny 459-square-foot studio would be all you could get for the national median, given the city’s $795 price per square foot. Prices were, however, down 2.78% from the year prior.
4. Boston, MA — 512 square feet
The price per square foot in Boston dropped a considerable 7.94% over the past year. However, the city remains one of the most expensive in the country. A $375K budget for a home would mean you could only get 512 square feet of living space in the city.
5. San Jose, CA — 513 square feet
San Jose rounds out our most expensive cities, with a price per square foot of just over $760. Given the national median average price, a buyer would only be able to get 513 square feet of space.
Methodology & Limitations
To create this report, we analyzed home price data taken from over 1.5 million for-sale listings on RealtyHop between Jan 2023 and March 2023. Listings included residential single-family homes, condos, co-ops, and townhouses actively on the market, but excluded those that did not list square footage.
To calculate the median price per square foot, we divided each listing’s price by its total square footage. These statistics were then aggregated based on the area, with the median taken for each city.
We used the National Association of Realtors’ latest March 2023 median existing-home sales price of $375K to calculate the square footage one could purchase at that price.
While we’ve used the citywide median price per square foot in our calculations, one limitation of our study is that this statistic is usually not uniform across a city. Our findings are meant to paint a picture of the differences across cities (and broadly within a city), and not meant to dictate the exact properties you could buy at any given price and size.
Have questions or comments about this report? Reach us at [email protected]
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