What $1 Million Gets you in the Most Unaffordable U.S. Cities

1 million studio


In most parts of the country, $1 million is enough to purchase a gorgeous home in a great neighborhood. However, that same amount is a paltry sum in the most expensive U.S. cities. It’s not just housing that’s expensive in these areas, but rents, groceries, entertainment, and transportation. Some cities have become so expensive that it’s nearly impossible for anyone but the wealthy to live in town without struggling financially or spending well over half their take home pay on housing.

Here’s what $1 MM gets you in five of the most unaffordable areas of the U.S.

1. A loft with a weird roof in Boston, Massachusetts

Boston Loft

This million dollar loft in Boston has two bedrooms, one bathroom, 1,472 square feet, and an odd brick roof. Sure, the listing tries to sell it as a “terra cotta brick” ceiling, but it’s just not very attractive. If you can get over this feature, the exposed pipes, and the $637 monthly condo fee you’ll have to pay after forking over $1 million to buy the place, it can be yours.

The kitchen is nice, with great cabinets, a Sub-Zero fridge, and double ovens — if you like to cook or simply want a well equipped kitchen, the price of the home may be forgivable. That aside, there’s nothing remarkable about the space and its main draw is the location. Brazilian mahogany flooring, one marble tiled bathroom, and big windows in the living room come with the apartment, but where’s the patio, terrace, or outdoor living area? There is none, which makes this apartment a poor value.

To be fair it is Boston, which is one of the most unaffordable cities in the country, so in that respect this unimpressive apartment isn’t the worst that you can do there.

2. A small one bedroom apartment with few amenities in San Francisco, California

San francisco one bedroom

If you’re looking to blow $1 million and don’t care much about space, this one bedroom apartment in San Francisco will fit the bill. It’s close to public transportation, which you’ll probably need after spending so much money to live in the city. However, if you still manage to hold onto your car, garage parking is available at the complex. No pets are allowed in the building and a maximum of two people are allowed to live in the unit — after all, it is just a one bedroom, one bathroom, 696 square foot space. There are no washer and dryer connections, but there is a laundromat in the building. You’ll have to pay to wash your clothes there, but at least you won’t have to haul everything around town to do the wash.

On the up side, the bathroom and kitchen were recently remodeled, and the latter has a built in wine rack and nice appliances. No outdoor living or entertaining space comes with this apartment, but you will be located close to the Marina, North Beach, and Fisherman’s Wharf.

3. A condo with a Zen garden in New York

Maspeth Apartment

This $1 million condo includes two bedrooms, two bathrooms, 884 square feet, and some decent amenities. In addition to a walk-in closet, this apartment comes with a washer and dryer, small balcony, and close proximity to Cooper Park. The Zen Garden is a community feature, as is the fitness center, heated indoor pool, and Jacuzzi. The features in the unit aren’t outstanding or even worth noting, but the community itself has nice amenities.

Yes, this is a terrible value that’s unaffordable for most people, but New York is one of the most expensive cities to live in worldwide. It’s not a shoe box and the neighborhood is relatively safe, so all things considered, this Brooklyn condo isn’t too bad.

4. A cute house with very little land in Austin, Texas

Austin Home

It seems there’s no stopping the ridiculous and unwarranted trendiness of Austin, and this million dollar home is proof that not all Texas real estate is affordable. The three bedroom, three bathroom property has a 2,546 square foot interior and sits on a 6,098 square foot lot. It’s close to the downtown area, has a detached garage, and is attractive inside and out. The kitchen is well designed, the lot is nicely manicured, and the overall feel of the home is modern. It looks like something that was pulled straight off of Pinterest — depending on your design tastes, that could be a good or bad thing.

This home does not have $1 MM appeal that other cities would have, but still, if you want to be able to say you live in the 78704 zip code, go for it. However, you could spend less than one-quarter of the price, move about 10 miles away, still be in Austin, and have a nice home on a much larger lot — take it as a standing recommendation when looking at Austin real estate that’s anywhere near Downtown.

Here’s the major problem with this property: it’s in one of the most over valued real estate markets in the nation and it’s in Texas. A million dollar home in The Lone Star State that doesn’t come with acreage is nearly unheard of.

5. An outdated home on a small lot in Miami, Florida

Miami Home

The exterior of this Miami house could use a facelift. The interior needs some updates as well. Still, if you want to live in a Miami home that’s not an apartment or condo, and you’re not worried about having a spacious lot or living in a great neighborhood, this $1 million dollar residence could be perfect for you.

The house has three bedrooms, two baths, and is 1,287 square feet. The lot it sits on is a modest 5,000 square feet. There’s tile flooring in the house — no word on how long ago that was installed — as well as central air conditioning. There’s no garage, but a few standard appliances are included. No, the appliances are not top of the line.

The most interesting thing about this house is that it last sold in 1993 for $59,900. Not much has been done with the property since then and the area isn’t spectacular, which proves one thing: Miami real estate is over valued, unaffordable, and definitely doesn’t provide much bang for the buck.

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