What $460,000 will buy you in Southern California…

by Erika Torres

2443656There was an open house in our housing tract this past weekend, and being the nosy neighbors we are, we decided to go take a look.

I mean, technically, we are in the market for a house, right?

The townhome was the same layout as ours. Two bedrooms, 1.5 bath, updated kitchen, popcorn ceiling. However, it had a couple hundred extra square feet in the backyard because it was a corner lot.

And you can buy all this for $460,000!

It makes me think about how different housing is here, or in other high-demand areas, as opposed to other areas of the country where your housing is realistically affordable.

It is unrealistic for us to believe that we’ll be able to save 20% for a down payment, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t going to try. A big reason for not having any other debt is that we’ll be able to take on a larger mortgage payment.

But I still don’t want to be crippled by a mortgage. We will also have to take into account insurance, property taxes, homeowner’s association dues (if any).

Going to that open house definitely whetted our appetites. We are chomping at the bit to be homeowners so that we can fix up our house and have something to call “ours.” But we are also smart enough to know that we have a lot of saving to do.

Predicting the housing market is no fun task either. We don’t want to be priced out of our area, but we don’t want to jump into something we can’t afford just for the sake of it.

Decisions, decisions….

What would $460,000 buy in your area? 


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Cameon February 24, 2014 - 6:37 am

We watch that show House Hunters (or did until I cut off our cable haha!) and I am always amazed at the pricing of houses and the difference across the country. We are in Alabama and this is what you can get in a really nice neighborhood convenient to almost everything for that amount of money: http://www.realtysouth.com/homes-for-sale/AL/Pelham/35124/105-High-Crest-Rd-109706682. A town home here would be around $70,000- $90,000 depending on where it is. Our house was $75,000 and was a foreclosure in a really nice neighborhood and it’s 3 bedrooms, 2 baths with an office and a basement as well.

sfi February 15, 2014 - 8:52 am

I’m looking at this right where I live, so I’ve got numbers on my mind.

You don’t indicate how your mortgage would compare to renting. If you can afford the rent, chances are you can afford the mortgage (assuming you have the down payment of course). I don’t know how it is in your market, but it could be the case that buying is more expensive. If this is the case you might be better off renting and investing your downpayment.

For example, I can earn about $300/month on a 50K down payment. This means that if I rent for $2000/month, my effective rent is $1,700/month.

However, in my market, you can buy homes for less than it costs to rent. For example, I can rent a home for $2300/month, but buy it for $2100/month (including taxes and insurance). The $2,100 mortgage payment includes about $400/month of principal you keep, making the effective payment only $1,700. Good time to buy.

Tushar @ Everything Finance t February 9, 2014 - 12:40 pm

I couldn’t imagine paying that for a townhouse. That’s a lot of money! That amount would afford us a nice house in our area. Mortgages can definitely be crippling, especially when you consider the HOA fees associated with most townhomes and condos.

David February 6, 2014 - 6:43 pm

Not too much as I expected,
In Las Vegas, you can buy 4.5 dice, decently sized houses. That is an incredible difference than CA.

jadell February 5, 2014 - 9:11 am

In south/west Idaho we are currently looking to buy almost 7 acres in the country with an enormous shop and 2700 sq ft home(with need of paint and a bit of updating) for $325,000. We are hoping to sell our home in the city on .29 of an acre, 2700 sq ft for $210,000. (no updating needed here. :))

It is so crazy the different economies in the US. I am guessing the pay scales reflect the cost of housing though, too.

Kathy February 5, 2014 - 7:55 am

In Springfield, Illinois that amount will get you in one of the most exclusive subdivisions in town. Probably 4000 sq. ft., 4-5 bedrooms, 2+ baths. Cost of housing is extremely reasonable here.

Mrs. Ripples February 5, 2014 - 5:35 am

Not sure what that would buy you where I live in ohio. But I live in a 2 bedroom 1.5 bath townhouse like you described and it was only $68,000. So $460,000 would get you quite a bit around here.

newlywedsonabudget February 5, 2014 - 8:58 am

my beating heart be still…. in southern california, people spend $68,000 on a CAR

Megalicious February 4, 2014 - 10:44 pm

I live 1.5 hours outside of Vancouver,BC and am currently shopping for a new (to us) home in that exact bracket. It should get us a three bed, three bath with unfinished basement we will finish as a rentable suite for income towards our mortgage. Probably 2000-3000 sq ft. depending on the neighbourhood. It’s hard to figure out how to get the 20% down comfortably though! I’m hoping we will be able to put $96,000 down but that won’t leave any extra left for moving expenses, new furniture, and unforeseens. Is that irresponsible? Should we just put $90k down and call it a day? These adult decisions are tricky!! Good luck with your housing plans… And BTW it would probably only take you 3 years or less to save up your 20%… If you can make do at your rental in the mean time, you will make yourselves so proud! (I’m assuming you avoid a tax by putting 20% down, like we do up here. I just know in the USA I had to put 25% down on my AZ property as a foreign investor). And if you can’t wait, well that’s fantastic too – paying your own mortgage is so much more satisfying than paying someone else’s!

newlywedsonabudget February 5, 2014 - 8:59 am

Thank you! Ideally, The goal would be to stay in our rental for as long as possible until we can save a bundle, but realistically, I also don’t want the housing market to go up significantly and leave us in the dust. Plus interest rates are still relatively good. I think we will watch the market and see, maybe start dipping our toes in 2015.
I don’t know your finances but there doesn’t seem to be much difference from 96k to 90k, so maybe hold off just a TAD longer so you have moving expenses?

Lizzy February 4, 2014 - 8:43 pm

There was a house across the street from me that recently sold. Asking price was $648,000. Online it says it sold for $710,000!!! The house is about 1,007 sq. ft, 3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, detached garage. The only good thing about it is the neighborhood and the lot size!!! That’s what you get for living in the Northern California wine country!

Katy @ Katytrackslife February 4, 2014 - 8:41 pm

I’m in Sydney Australia and that would buy a studio around my area… Maybe.

House prices here are crazy, often over $1.5 million for what you described.

Even the unlivable “renovators delights” are selling for $1 mil if they’re near the city.

Of course if you moved out from the city a decent way you might still be able to get house for tafe but you’d be commuting a long way to work!

newlywedsonabudget February 5, 2014 - 9:00 am

that is so crazy!!! who actually affords to live there??? is everyone in Sydney millionaires?

Tiffany February 4, 2014 - 5:27 pm

Longtime lurker here, I just had to chime in because things are so drastically different here. Here is what you can get for around that price in my town:


The funny thing is that I think SoCal and Southwest Florida have similar climates but I guess that’s probably where the similarities end.

newlywedsonabudget February 5, 2014 - 9:01 am

Thank you for commenting! That house lives in my dreams! STUNNING!

One Frugal Girl February 4, 2014 - 3:47 pm

Our house was assessed for slightly more than that. It’s a three bedroom, two and a half bath. Well our shower is barely big enough to fit us standing up, but that still counts as a full bath. It’s a detached house with a large front yard, but not even an acre of land. We live just outside of DC in Maryland.

MargieMay February 4, 2014 - 3:33 pm

We just bought our first home in N. San Diego County for $470K: 2000 sq. ft, 3 bed, 2.5 bath . . . and we thought it was a steal! (And it was – it needed some TLC)

newlywedsonabudget February 5, 2014 - 9:01 am

That IS a steal! I’d be happy!

eemusings February 4, 2014 - 2:36 pm

Probably a crappy 2bedroom unit or apartment. Maaaaaybe a nice three bed house on the outskirts of the city.

Tonya@Budget and the Beach February 4, 2014 - 1:40 pm

It would buy a parking spot where I live in LA. 🙂

Megan February 4, 2014 - 1:33 pm

Come live by us! Our 1,300 SF 3 bedroom 2 bath cost us $190. Granted it’s up to $250 now, but yea!

newlywedsonabudget February 5, 2014 - 9:02 am

haha, if I wouldn’t have an hour and a half commute, then maybe I probably would!

SavvyFinancialLatina February 4, 2014 - 11:38 am

You would get a mini mansion in North Dallas suburb. Highland Park, probably a condo? Maybe.

Michelle's Finance Journal February 4, 2014 - 11:23 am

In Northern Virginia, you can get a very old town house or pretty ok condo. But even within NOVA, price difference is dramatic just a couple of miles away.

Jill February 4, 2014 - 11:05 am

I am beyond happy that I live in Texas after reading this! For less than $460,000 (in a really nice area) I could get a 5 bedroom, 4 bath home that is 4600 square feet. Oh and it’s on a golf course with an automatic membership (part of your home owner’s association dues) to the country club.

WellHeeledBlog February 4, 2014 - 9:25 pm

But the property taxes! 🙂 I’ve been comparing SoCal prices with Dallas prices, and while you can get SO MUCH MORE for so much less in Dallas, once you factor in the property taxes, the difference gets significantly smaller. Although the no-income tax thing is pretty nice.

newlywedsonabudget February 5, 2014 - 9:00 am

are property taxes really high in Dallas? My parents pay about $8,000 a year in property taxes on their $750,000 house, that seems like a good chunk of change to me. The only time property taxes don’t seem to suck is if youve lived in your house a long time, thanks to Prop 13.

Well Heeled Blog February 8, 2014 - 3:16 pm

$8K on $750K is barely above 1%. That’s considered a very low property tax. In Dallas and other parts of Texas property taxes can go as high as 3%. Of course, you get more house for your money in Texas, but the property taxes bit is something that a lot of people overlook. Another consideration is that CA’s relatively mild climate means you save money on heating/cooling costs, whereas in Texas it’s the exact opposite. No one would say that it’s more expensive to buy a house in Texas vs. CA, or that it’s more expensive to live in Texas than in CA, but I’d argue there are other costs outside of the housing price that are frequently overlooked.

Jessica February 4, 2014 - 10:47 am

In NYC you can get a closet for that… lol JUST KIDDING maybe a Closet AND a room! 😉

Erin February 4, 2014 - 10:41 am

That price in AL would get you in a very high demand gated community with all the perks and your house would easily be 3,000 sq ft.
I couldn’t imagine spending that much money on something so little. Makes me appreciate our house a little bit more.

E.M. February 4, 2014 - 9:32 am

That amount would likely get you 3-4 bedrooms, 2-3 bathrooms, a garage, decent sized backyard and it would be in decent shape. The prices here vary a lot depending on the city. Some of the newer townhomes are going for $350k.

Army Amy February 4, 2014 - 9:07 am

For that much money, you could get a mansion in El Paso. But you’d have to live in El Paso. Haha! Don’t get me wrong – I like living here, but I have no plan to buy a house or stay here permanently.

Poor fat chick February 4, 2014 - 8:34 am

I live in Vancouver BC Canada where the average house price is almost $1 million. $460K and you are lucky to get a one bedroom condo, maybe a bachelor suite on the outskirts of town. The further you go out into the berbs the less the house prices is but still, even a 3 bedroom house in the berbs will cost you about $1-$2 million. Our place is a one bedroom small condo and we its worth around the $300k mark. But we don’t live right downtown, we live out in the berbs and that was the price my boyfriend paid 10 years ago.. The price of our condo can get a full 4 bedroom house with a yard, garage and all the trimmings in places like Edmonton or Calgary.
Housing pricing in this city sucks

Gina February 4, 2014 - 7:50 am

In Nashville, 286,000, would get you a four bedroom, 3 bath, garage and a yard. Leaves you over 200,000 to pay someone to mow the lawn and clean the house. Put the rest in your retirement account. Seriously you need to move.

Alice @ Earning My Two Cents February 4, 2014 - 7:33 am

Here in Baton Rouge $460k will buy you a nice big lot with a 3-4 bedroom house. Back home in DC you can get a 1br condo or a 2-3 bedroom home/townhome in a cheaper suburb.

Rose February 4, 2014 - 7:25 am

In DC you could get a one bedroom condo – either very tiny and in good shape or small and in need of updates.

Akirah February 4, 2014 - 7:07 am

That’s so crazy to me. In Pittsburgh, you could probably buy a small village for that amount. Sometimes when I watch House Hunters, I am amazed by how expensive other areas of the country are. Good luck with your decision…I hope something comes up soon.

Liz February 4, 2014 - 6:36 am

In my area you could get a new construction 4 bedroom 3 bathroom home. However, I really wish we lived in a nicer climate. Sometimes I think the cost might be worth it.. The one thing that holds us back is family. I couldn’t leave them!

Lexine May 30, 2014 - 11:23 am

Just cause it’s simple doesn’t mean it’s not super hellufp.

Emily @ evolvingPF February 4, 2014 - 5:52 am

I don’t even know if houses that expensive even exist in my city! I just checked Zillow and I guess they do… not sure why… but they are about 3,500 to 4,000 square feet.

We want to buy in San Diego eventually. Very eventually. Maybe with only 10% down, we’ll see.

Heather February 4, 2014 - 5:28 am

I live in a rural area in Virginia. You can buy a very nice large house with over 3,000 square feet, four bedroom, and three bath for $300,000 here. My husband and I are thinking about purchasing a modular home since the quality has increased. We know several people who have done this and their houses are very nice. You get the same perks as building, but quicker and a little bit cheaper. My aunt lives in a suburb of Sacramento and their house is maybe 2,000 square feet, two bath, and three bedrooms. Two of the bedrooms are tiny. She paid $350,000 for her house.

Amanda February 4, 2014 - 4:12 am

When my family from Aliso Viejo was visiting Indiana, he couldn’t believe how big some of the houses here were, or that they’re cheaper than his family’s house! In Indianapolis, $450,000 would get you at least 3, 000 sq ft, if not over 5,000 and up to an acre yard.

Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies February 4, 2014 - 3:37 am

Around our neighborhood, that’d get you a big (~2500 sqft?) mediterranean-style house built in the late 90’s-2000’s in a gated community, so it probably wouldn’t need much work. It’d likely have 4 beds, 3 baths, 2 car garage, as well as a pool. You’d probably even get a lake view, though you might have to “settle” for a slightly smaller place or pay $30K more…

Oh yeah, and you’d be about 2 miles from the beach. An easy bike ride or jog. =)


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