The city you live in increasingly determines how much square footage you get for your money in the US. Affordability varies so much from state-to-state, that it can mean the difference between a small studio apartment and a sizable 4 bedroom house! If you’re starting a family or already have one, maximizing your space is likely to be a top concern. It may even have crossed your mind to move interstate to buy a home.
According to Zillow, the median price of homes currently listed in the US is around $300K, so we decided to find out exactly how much home you can buy for this amount in 8 different cities across the country. We’ve ordered our findings from the most affordable cities in terms of square feet for money, to the least.
Even though Austin’s housing market is the second most expensive in Texas, it’s still 23% cheaper than anywhere else in the country. The median price of homes currently listed in Austin is $405K but there were plenty of 2 bedroom condos for sale in the Downtown area around our price bracket.
For $300K, we also found a 2,101 sqft single-family home, 20 minute’s drive from Downtown, offering open plan living, 3 generous bedrooms set over two floors, and a large grassy fully-fenced backyard, perfect for a couple looking for space to relax, entertain or raise a family.
Housing in Chicago is still very affordable with the median price of homes currently listed at $329K. Some of the city’s most popular neighborhoods have listings at $300K and under, such as Bridgeport, The Gap, Pilsen and South Loop; all within a 10 minute drive or under to Downtown.
In Bridgeport, for example, we found a stylish open plan 1,453 sqft condo loft with 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and lots of extra features, such as 12ft ceilings, an entertainment deck with skyline views, walk-in closets, LED lighting throughout and storage galore. You definitely feel like you’re getting value for money in Chicago.
If you move to Portland you can expect to buy a home in a reasonably priced and stable housing market. While the median price of Portland homes is $449,950, if you have $300K to spend you can easily find a 2 bedroom condo around 1,000 sqft in this price bracket. Condos really do suit all tastes and budgets here!
We had no trouble finding a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 936 sqft condo listed for $299K, just an 8 minute walk from Downtown with park views and including a free laundry, pool, hot tub and sauna. You can also find smaller single-family homes and townhouses away from Downtown for $300K or under but you’ll have to search a little harder if you want a decent property for this price.
Los Angeles, CA
Los Angeles is traditionally one of the least affordable cities to buy a home, and that still holds true with the median price currently listed at $859K. You wouldn’t find a cheap house in somewhere like Beverly Hills, for example! However, because Los Angeles covers a wide area, there are plenty of budget friendly neighborhoods.
At $300k you’re not going to be living in the lap of luxury, but we found a clean, well appointed 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom 880 sqft condo in Winnetka for $299K. It had 2 parking spaces and onsite amenities including a large pool, spa, barbecue area, gym, rec room with a pool table and two laundry rooms.
You have to get in quick if you want a slice of the Denver housing market. Properties are sought after here, and sell on average in just 10 days. The good news is house prices are predicted to dip 10% here by spring 2021.
The median price of homes listed currently for sale in Denver is $464,900, but you can still find plenty of condos listed for much cheaper. Though you may not be swimming in space, we found a cute historic 805 sqft condo in cosmopolitan Capitol Hill, with 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom and modern fit out for bang on $300K. Living so close to Downtown you’d have a quick walk to restaurants, art museums and other urban delights.
New York, NY
Manhattan is the most desirable location to live in New York and houses here are well over the national average at $1,550,000. If your budget is way less, there are options for cheaper townhouses and single-family homes in Brooklyn, Staten Island and the eastern suburbs.
Even though it’s slim pickings in Manhattan for $300K we found 350 sqft co-operative studios and 1 bedrooms (and the odd 2 bedroom) selling for around this price in the Upper East Side. A ‘co-op’ is an arrangement where you buy a ‘share’ in the building rather than an apartment. The number of shares you own corresponds with the size of your apartment. It’s a bit of a strange system but it tends to work well in cities like New York.
Washington DC is a very competitive housing market with hot homes selling in less than a week and for more than listing price. Even though $599,900 isn’t one of the highest median listing prices in the country, we struggled to find anything much in the Downtown area for our price bracket.
The best we could do close to Downtown for $300K was a 439 sqft condo in a turn of the century building in Dupont Circle. Marketed as a studio, it had a separate bathroom and kitchen, with a shared rooftop deck and great walk score of 99. If you’re looking for a single-family home, then southeast Washington D.C would be your best bet.
San Francisco, CA
The lucky last is San Francisco, where the median price of homes currently listed is $1,310,500, so $300K pretty much gets you a glorified closet. We found a newish but basic 347 sqft condo in the Civic Center for $310K, with no bedroom and 1 bathroom, and no other redeeming features, though it did have a shared roof deck and a 99 walk score.
Cities where $300K can buy you the biggest home
Of the 8 cities we looked at: Austin, Chicago and Portland, are the three cities that will best maximize your $300K. For this home value you can expect to get something between 1,000 to 2,000 square feet, in a good location, and in excellent, move-in ready condition. If you want to buy a home in one of the three least affordable cities: New York, Washington DC or San Francisco, you might want to keep saving or look for a better paid job.
Ready to buy a home in an affordable city right now? Jump online and check out what’s available in REX’s homes for sale!