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California Dreamin': U.S. Home Values Are Highest Where the Weather Is Best

Jeff Tucker
  • California markets dominate both the list of places with most pleasant days per year and the list of priciest U.S. housing markets.
  • Additional affordable pleasant places are in the Southeast, if you don't mind some hot summers.
  • Six of the 10 sweet spots for pleasant day weather and low home values are in the Southeast, led by Greensboro, N.C.

Coastal California cannot be beat when it comes to high home prices – and nice weather. The moderating effect of the Pacific Ocean on temperatures helps give the lucky residents of coastal California metros more pleasant days per year than any other part of the country. Sunnier SoCal especially takes the cake, with Ventura, Calif., logging just over 300 pleasant days a year, followed by San Diego and Santa Barbara.[1]

Buying your own slice of paradise in sunny southern California is not cheap, though. The top five metro areas for pleasant weather have median home values around $600,000, more than double the national median of $229,000. Northern California — the most pleasant region after SoCal — costs even more, with median home values ranging around $1 million in the Bay Area metros of San Francisco, San Jose, and Santa Cruz. Hawaii also makes an appearance on the pleasant days list, with the Kahului metro area on Maui averaging about 241 of those days a year.

Outside California and Hawaii, the relationship between pleasant weather and high living costs is not nearly as strong. Sunbelt destinations in Florida and South Carolina present attractive options where more than half the days each year are pleasant, and home values are at or below the national median. Daytona Beach, Fla. represents one such place, where the pleasant weather is not out of financial reach for typical homebuyers: Its median home value is $210,000, and it comes with 207 pleasant days a year.

Seven of the 10 sweet spots for pleasant day weather and low home values are in the Southeast, led by Greensboro, N.C.:[2]

The most typical metro area, considering both pleasant days and home values, is Racine, Wisc., with 107 pleasant days a year (versus a median of 101 across all 368 metropolitan areas with data available) and a median home value of $229,700, almost identical to the national median.[3]

At the other end of the scale, Zillow's hometown Seattle has a relatively pricey median home value of $489,500, for just 118 pleasant days a year. The New York City metro also presents a poor bargain, with a home value of $442,800 and only 98.5 pleasant days a year, just below the national median. Boston is even worse, with a mere 82 pleasant days a year and a home value of $463,300.

Here are the top 10 metro areas for pleasant weather:

Metro area Pleasant weather rank Pleasant days/year Median home value rank Median home value
Ventura, CA 1 304.1 11 $598,000
San Diego, CA 2 276.1 12 $591,500
Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA 3 266.7 10 $602,800
Salinas, CA 4 259.1 13 $574,700
Los Angeles, CA 5 252.9 6 $650,600
San Jose, CA 6 248.8 1 $1,144,800
San Francisco, CA 7 240.8 2 $938,100
Kahului, HI 8 240.7 7 $628,400
Santa Cruz, CA 9 237.0 3 $821,700
San Luis Obispo, CA 10 235.7 9 $613,000

 

And the 10 metro areas with the highest home values:

Metro area Pleasant weather rank Pleasant days/yar Median home value rank Median home value
San Jose, CA 6 248.8 1 $1,144,800
San Francisco, CA 7 240.8 2 $938,100
Santa Cruz, CA 9 237.0 3 $821,700
Honolulu, HI 24 161.2 4 $676,100
Napa, CA 13 192.9 5 $665,600
Los Angeles, CA 5 252.9 6 $650,600
Kahului, HI 8 240.7 7 $628,400
Santa Rosa, CA 39 151.2 8 $628,300
San Luis Obispo, CA 10 235.7 9 $613,000
Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA 3 266.7 10 $602,800

 

 

[1] Here, pleasant days are determined using NOAA's "Global Summary of Day" weather data, and defined as days with a high temperature between 55 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit; a mean temperature between 50 and 80 degrees; zero measurable precipitation; and no hail, thunderstorms or tornadoes recorded. Dew point was also considered to measure mugginess but ultimately excluded due to its only being available at the daily average level, offering limited insight into afternoon heat. Data include 20 years of observed weather, from 1999 to 2018. This research uses the methodology laid out by Zillow's Chris Sipola here: https://github.com/zillow-research/weather-data.

[2] Sweet spots were determined by ranking every metro area from most to fewest pleasant days, and from lowest to highest home values, then sorting by the average ranking across both fields.

[3] Racine is "most typical" in terms of the smallest absolute percent difference on each metric from its national median, summed together.

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