October 10th, 2016


…I guess I won’t be moving to any of these metropolitan areas any time soon.

Unless my sugar daddy comes along.

We’re just talking about living at the two-bedroom apartment level, and it ain’t cheap:

In San Francisco, America’s most expensive city, workers need a $216,129 salary to not feel burdened by the cost of renting the average two-bedroom apartment at $5,043-a-month.

Households that spend more than 30 per cent of their income on housing and utility bills are considered ‘cost-burdened households’, based on a threshold set by The Department of Housing and Urban Development.

In the new report by SmartAsset, a 28 per cent rent-to-income ratio was used to determine how much money households need to afford a two-bed apartment in the largest U.S. cities without feeling ‘cost-burdened’…

[In San Franciso,] [t]he median household income in the city is still only $78,378.

That’s household income, too, which often includes the income of two people.


New York is the second most expensive place to live – with workers needing to earn a salary of $158,229 to make the cost of renting a two-bed apartment at $3,692-a-month affordable…

In Los Angeles you need a $145,629 salary to not feel burdened by the average cost of renting a two-bed at $3,398…

The fourth most expensive place to live is Boston, Massachusetts.

You’ll need a $120,900-a-year salary to find the average Boston apartment with a couple of bedrooms affordable at $2,821 per month.

Of course, it depends what you mean by “city.” You can live within commuting distance of some of those cities for less, but it also depends on what you consider “commuting distance.” For San Francisco, you have to get many hours away before things get at all reasonable, and they’re still not especially reasonable.

28 Responses to “Hmmm…”

  1. snopercod Says:

    One of the side effects of these high-cost cities is the lack of children. Working families with kids just can’t afford to live there. I used to live in a rural area that was “discovered”. At the time, the wife and I were renting a house with an ocean view for $150/mo. But in later years, real estate prices skyrocketed and so did property taxes. The working families were forced out and one of the two elementary schools closed down due to lack of students. (In doing a google search, I guess my great insight is old news. Story of my life…)

  2. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Just the other day my daughter mentioned that she’s paying $2100.00 a month for a 2 bdrm apt in Denver and, that’s with a 20% employee discount…

  3. liz Says:

    Gees – my yearly property taxes are $2,600 for a 2,600 sq ft home with taxable value of $255,500 in a great suburban neighborhood.

    And my gas station has E10 at $1.79 and I can get 100% gas, which I always get since the mpg is always better. COL is lower, obviously.

    Yea – you may find problems with where I live in the central plains of the US, but I’m happy, can live and travel at my leisure. I really like living in the open spaces – going to the crowded coasts are disturbing.

  4. CV Says:

    I went to grad school in Boston in the 1980s and dreamed about settling there permanently (it’s still one of my favorite cities). Fortunately my boyfriend (now husband) didn’t agree, and we ended up living in Pittsburgh, which now routinely ranks among most liveable cities in the US:


    Pittsburgh’s rust belt vibe is considered downright trendy these days! We even have to dodge Uber’s self-driving cars around the neighborhood.

    If we had lived in Boston, we’d probably still be renting. The only thing the ‘Burgh is missing is closer proximity to the beach.

  5. Sara C Says:

    We lived in Santa Cruz for many years. When our rent went from 1500 to 4000 overnight we had to move away. Oregon is a much more comfortable place to live!

  6. jim murray Says:

    ‘sugar daddy’, how sexist. JFK lined up ‘sugar mamas’.

  7. groundhog Says:

    Look into the tiny house trend.

    Maybe you could buy a tiny house and live on the roof of another building?

  8. Brian Swisher Says:

    Sara C, here in Portland, rents are way up and rentals scarce. I am fortunate in owning my own home and buying it before home prices really took off.

  9. liz Says:

    CV – hey, since you live in Pittsburgh and not Boston, you can probably afford more trips to the beach.

    My niece lives outside of Boston and my sister goes to visit often. They have never mentioned going to the beach. Heck, they travel down to the Chesapeake area for vacations near the water.

    I live in OKC and spend more time sailing at Lake Hefner and Lake Texoma than they do “at the beach”.

  10. parker Says:

    Our eldest son, daughter inlaw, and their 2 children recently bought a 3 bedroom 1600 sf house in a good neighborhood in Urbana, IL for 135K. Its in fine shape with a nice backyard and close to an elementary school where he teaches gifted 3rd graders. Similar values can be found in Cedar Rapids, IA where we live on the edge of town. Living is easy in the Midwest if you stay away from the metro areas.

  11. huxley Says:

    Let me be annoying and say I just sold my house in San Francisco for 1.1 mil. It was a nice enough, but not special, family townhouse in a good location. It certainly needed work.

    I was house poor and I was having trouble finding work as a silverback programmer. Plus I had some medical expenses coming up. I was paying $630/month property taxes.

    My impression is San Francisco real estate values have achieved escape velocity like New York and London and will be largely immune to economic swings.

    I might be kicking myself down the line for not refi’ing and hanging on to it. If I was younger I would have. I’m getting too old to ride things out.

    Given the current instability — 2016 could be another 2008 or just a standard tech bubble bust — I decided to cash out instead. I don’t see prices going up too much higher in the near term.

    So I’m in New Mexico, enjoying the change of scenery. I was born here and perhaps I will die here.

  12. Sharon W Says:

    I was thrilled last week when my son’s fiancee secured an apartment for them in Walnut Creek (under 45 minute commute to San Francisco)–the 2-bedroom just $50 more per month than the 1-bedroom ($2100). Washer/dryer in the unit and a fireplace. Beautiful complex, lovely community. That gal is golden!

  13. AesopFan Says:

    Moved from Gulf Coast area of Texas (smallish town) to Denver Metro: got a smaller house that cost three times as much as we sold ours for.

    But, there are no mosquitoes or cockroaches.

  14. Sara C Says:

    Brian S, Portland seems so reasonable compared to 800,000 for a fixer upper! We settled in Eugene, way affordable and we just got a Whole Foods.

  15. parker Says:

    Sara C,

    Our youngest son and his family live in Eugene. We love visiting them (of course) and find the azelias and rhododendrons amazing.

  16. Tesh Says:

    I see no reason to live in a big urban area in the first place. The cost of housing is little compared to the cost of living there, including poor schools, poor politics (almost always leftist in urban areas), annoying neighbors, claustrophobic layout, one way streets, noise, light pollution, taxes, nanny statism, higher crime, worse air, skanky advertising all over the place, pushy professional beggars, stairs, pigeons, and so on. About the only cool thing about NYC, for instance, is Spider-Man, and he’s fictional.

  17. kolnai Says:

    I lived for a while in the Inland Empire (which might be a stretch be considered an exurb of LA, though it’s well beyond commuting distance, I think), and the prices there were surprisingly reasonable. I had a pretty nice 2 bedroom/2 bath apt shared with my brother for about $2,100 by the time I left (2013).

    By contrast, when I lived in lower Manhattan near the south sea port – in the 2005-era – I was paying around $1800 for a not very big studio apartment. I confess that I loved it, though. The little bubble I was able to create for myself with amazing shopping, food, bookstores, and the like within walking distance was like heaven to me. Two train stops from my grad school was much preferable to the 50 minute slog I had prior to that coming from an awful, flooded basement apartment in the darkest Bronx (and that was costing me 1250$ anyway).

    There’s always people willing to pay the insane prices, I guess.

  18. GRA Says:

    This all about worldly perception of each city to the outsider.

    I’m in Chicago and it all depends on what neighborhood you’re looking at. Compared to LA, NYC, DC and SF the middle American city is a straight out bargain. Since it’s in middle America it will never be as popular as coastal cities.

    Neighborhoods like Lake View, Lincoln Park, Wicker Park and of course the Gold Coast and The Loop will be in demand therefore more expensive, but every now and then you can get a one bedroom apartment for a decent price with some amenities in said neighborhoods. Studios aren’t actually shoe boxes as well, which is always a good thing. Rogers Park, Edgewater and Hyde Park all are decent places to rent out.

    NYC is NYC (read: a cluster f_ck of a party with people from everywhere trying to get in on the action). The entire island of Manhattan (maybe excluding Harlem and the most northern west side) is a rent pit; west side of Brooklyn also is a rent pit. Bright-eyed millennials, wealthy foreigners and poor hipsters all want either Manhattan or the “cool” side of Brooklyn.

    SF will always, always be popular due to Silicon Valley and the uber health conscious types if they don’t settle for Denver. SF will also look down on the entire country because it’s not “progressive” enough like SF itself (read: loss of common sense)

    LA is LA (read: rather rundown yet still appealing to the dreamer because of filtered sunsets near a beach).

    DC is DC (read: entirely overrated but it can charge prices that rivals NYC and LA because it can; most jobs are in government).

    If you want city living pick some city in the Midwest or the somewhere in the South.

  19. Brian Swisher Says:

    Sara C.
    Yeah, Eugene is much more affordable than Portland, and way more affordable than Santa Cruz. The country between Eugene and Cottage Grove is some of the prettiest I’ve seen. Just noting that the Urban Growth Boundary (among other things) is making life difficult for renters here.

  20. snopercod Says:

    Property taxes on my ~3,000 s.f. home on two acres with a running stream, a pond, and an orchard run $1,200 per year. Eat your hearts out, y’all…

  21. Artfldgr Says:

    Despite going to bronx science, and being homeless to attend a bit of college, my wife an i will never have a home, never have children, never retire.. i will drop dead before that can happen..

    though my sister, who didnt go to science, and wasnt as academic, has 6 degrees, is worth several million, has two kids, 6 properties… why? she has a hole… which makes her a protected class because THAT is the key to being a protected class unless your skin color is not too pale..

    cant wait to die..
    tis the best thing that can happen to me

  22. OM Says:

    Life is what it is, never was, and never will be fair.

  23. kolnai Says:

    Damn art, I hope that’s just gallows humor!

  24. Frog Says:

    Boston is the biggest college town in the country, descended upon by about 250,000 students yearly. It makes it on OPM (Other People’s Money). Without that, Boston would be a mere shadow of its present self.

    We are seeing what happens, very, very gradually in a knowledge-based instead of manufacturing economy. There is little place in the new economy for the middle class and its values: You either have it, or you don’t.
    The haves make few babies; the have-nots make more, and are on the dole at some level, even if it is “only” the “earned income tax credit” (a bizarre term in its own right). Since the haves make few babies, they don’t care about schools, which are a disaster in all cities. The haves are secular humanists also, preening, self-worshipping and sanctimonious, so they ignore church, a great source of middle-class strength.

    The Boston syndrome is seen in other university-based towns of much smaller size. Durham, NC, home of Duke U, is 40% black. The town is Dukies and blacks, all living on OPM. Just down the road is Chapel Hill, home of UNC. Housing is quite expensive in both places, compared to NC towns that are not home to educational juggernauts headed by presidents paid like corporate CEOs.

    (I am a former tenured Duke faculty member who disliked academia so much that I quit; I have kids in Boston)

  25. Ymarsakar Says:

    Artfldgr Says:
    October 11th, 2016 at 8:56 am

    No, that’s just Art being Art over the years, as I can testify as being a witness.

    Art, you know you’re being rather pathetic, the way you self pity yourself, don’t do anything others have recommended such as distancing yourself from Leftist academics who you hope to get a pension from. Of course you aren’t worth anything to them. They stick you in a closet and abuse you all they want, because they are Leftists.

    Yet you blame women for having a hole, which is also why you like Trum, because he’s your surrogate for attacking people who you lack the individual courage to resist.

    And that’s what is really pathetic. It’s not even worthy of pity. Your sister found a way to succeed in life, yet you don’t give her any credit. The blame is never on you, is it.

    When OCD people and Asperger get into a pattern, they are stuck in it almost forever.

    I’ll give Art some credit at least, since he has learned over the years to capitalize most of his initial sentences in the first paragraph. That’s a change for the better. Although at that rate, changing one’s life will take a century or more.

  26. RV-12 Pilot Says:

    “Households that spend more than 30 per cent of their income on housing and utility bills are considered ‘cost-burdened households’, based on a threshold set by The Department of Housing and Urban Development.”

    As long as I’m not subsidizing that in any way as a taxpayer, to each his own. Once I’m asked (ha! Like they “ask”) to hekp them out, well, then I’ve got a problem with it.

  27. n.n Says:

    “sugar daddy” including: billionaire, celebrity, athlete, government. Humanitarian pornographers are also known as “sugar daddies”. Planned Parenthood and abortion industry are also “sugar daddies” that take “care” of women’s “problems”, unwanted and inconvenient babies. Progressive liberalism combined with the Pro-Choice quasi-religion is a degenerative process and condition.

  28. Big Maq Says:

    Noticed that Dallas was on the list as the lowest cost of living.

    Philly was close to the same col, BUT it is economically depressed.

    There is a natural advantage to Dallas, and Texas, and, even more generally, the “Heartland” between the coasts, somewhat represented by the political divide.

    Great article here by Joel Kotin that give background to this.

    Recommend Joel Kotin as a regular read. He explains the whys behind the demographic, and, with it, political shifts we are seeing, with a conservative lens.

About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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