Residents of San Jose, Calif., enjoy a healthy local economy, great weather and access to San Francisco's cultural amenities.
And they pay for it.
The monthly median cost to buy and maintain a home in the area last year was $2,980. Big tech companies like Apple and Google are based there, which means there's a great demand for housing. This helps drive prices.
But geography also has a lot to do with why San Jose is so expensive.
"Natural boundaries that protect San Jose--mountains to the west and east in particular--mean we're really limited for space," says Damon Loskutoff, a Santa Clara-based real estate agent with Keller Williams. Quality of life is also a factor. "The climate is great--we barely get any rain--there's lots of diversity, and we have great universities, access to a good deal of fresh produce and many great companies are based here."
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San Francisco and New York, N.Y., ranked second and third. The least expensive? Cleveland followed by Columbus, Ohio, and Pittsburgh.
Behind the Numbers
To determine America's most and least expensive places to own a home, we used data from the U.S. Census Bureau's 2008 American Community Survey, released Tuesday. It reported the 2007 median monthly home ownership costs in the country's metro areas with a population over 65,000. Home costs include monthly mortgage payments, real estate taxes, various insurances, utilities, fuels, mobile home costs and condominium fees.
In some areas of the country--particularly in big cities on the coasts--the costs of owning and maintaining a home are higher than ever before.
That's certainly true in San Jose. Along with rising fuel costs, there are currently 9,066 foreclosures in the area, according to RealtyTrac, an Irvine, Calif.-based company that tracks the number of foreclosed-upon homes in each ZIP code of the U.S. Likely to blame for some are rising monthly payments unsustainable by homeowners living beyond their means.
© Teresa Hurst/iStockphoto
|San Jose, Calif.|
San Francisco and Boston are home to solid firms and suffer from lack of space. There is only so much expansion to be had in a city surrounded by water. The result? Homeowners in San Francisco pay $2,838 a month, while those in Boston shell out $2,219 a month.
Perhaps worst off are those in New York. In Manhattan, buyers pay an average of $1,036 per square foot. In San Jose the average is $463 per square foot. Because city slickers generally live in smaller spaces and usually don't have outdoor space, they pay a slightly higher premium to own a home.
Those getting the real deal live in places like Pittsburgh ($1,187 a month), Columbus, Ohio ($1,060) and Cleveland, which boasts a median cost of $978.
Of course, there's less demand for homes in these cities, and that has a lot to do with lack of job opportunity. In Cleveland, the unemployment rate was 7.2% in July 2008 and 5.3% in Pittsburgh, up .7% from July 2007.
Abundance of space is a factor too. In Charlotte, N.C., there are just 230,434 housing units at an average density of 951.2 people per square mile, according to the census, while in Washington, D.C., there is a similar amount of housing units--274,845--but the average density is 4,476.1 people per square mile.
| Top 5 Most Expensive Cities |
1. San Jose, Calif.
2. San Francisco, Calif.
3. New York, N.Y.
4. Los Angeles, Calif.
5. San Diego, Calif.
See more of the most expensive cities
| Top 5 Least Expensive Cities |
1. Cleveland, Ohio
2. Columbus, Ohio
3. Pittsburgh, Pa.
4. San Antonio, Texas
5. Indianapolis, Ind.
See more of the least expensive cities