A million-dollar home looks very different from one city to the next
What a home looks like depends heavily on a town's character in addition to its building history, market pressures, legal guidelines and demography. These differences mean that the house your money could buy in your hometown might not look anything like the one you'd get if you moved across the country, or even to the city next door (homes in the Twin Cities are definitely not identical). That's true even if you have a big chunk of change for a dream home – say, $1 million dollars: It's the price tag on a veritable mansion in some cities, while in other areas you would have to dream much smaller. Here's what that million dollars will get you in cities across the U.S.
A single-family home
In most large cities, 88 of the top 100, a detached single-family home is the standard for a million-dollar home. But in some cities, it's not unusual for these homes to fall under 1,500 square feet in size; in others, most million-dollar homes top 6,000 square feet, qualifying for mansion status.
Where millionaires share walls
In some cities though, a million-dollar home is likely not to be a standalone house. In these places, it's normal for owners of million-dollar properties to share walls with their neighbors, either in multi-unit buildings or zero-lot-line styles of home. Condos make up a much larger share of the million-dollar market in major coastal cities. Still, buyers in different cities get very different condos for their million dollars.
In the same way that condos typify the million-dollar market in New York and Miami, townhouses and rowhouses are the standout types of million-dollar home in Minneapolis, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia. In D.C., the homes you could get are relatively compact, with a standard 1,648 square foot layout with three beds and 2.5 baths. But in Minneapolis and Philly, most are above 2,000 square feet. Throughout the country are scattered cities with an unusually high number of million-dollar du-/tri-/quad-plexes: Boston, New Orleans, Sacramento and Long Beach, Calif. In Boston particularly, 36% of homes valued at $1 million fall into this category, a large chunk of them three-family homes of about 1,000 square feet per unit.
Commuting from your mansion
There are major cities where you can get a good amount of space for a million bucks. But, for the most part, you won't get as much space in a metro area's principal city. If you're willing to leave just a little of the daily hustle and bustle behind, you might find the mansion of your dreams in a neighboring city, depending on the metro. For example, in D.C. you could ditch that 1,600-square-foot row house right now and get yourself a small mansion in Silver Spring, Md.! But don't bother if you're in Las Vegas, unless you just want some peace and quiet; not only does your million get you a large single-family home in the city, but it has even slightly more space than in neighboring Henderson.
Whatever their composition, the square footage of $1 million homes varies widely across the country. Use the tool bar here to find the square footage of typical $1 million homes in all the cities analyzed: