Despite the recent downturn in the housing market, the dream of owning a home is still alive and well in the United States. Not surprisingly, many of the most expensive cities for home purchasing in the United States are among the most desirable locations in the country. Even in uncertain economic times, people are drawn to areas that are scenic and have lots of career opportunities and outside activities to enjoy. It's worth noting that all of the top 10 cities in our ranking of the top cities for home ownership are on or near the coast. When it comes to where to the most expensive places to live, it seems as though being able to get to the beach on short notice is at the top of people's lists. Here's our list of the top 10 most expensive cities (with a population over 200,000) to buy a home in America.
- 1. San Francisco, CAScore: 9.5/10
It's not just Tony Bennett who has left his heart in San Francisco - residents of the City by the Bay have an unusually strong attraction to their hometown. (If you need proof, just mention that you think Los Angeles is a nice place and prepare for a 30-minute diatribe.) To be fair, residents of San Francisco have plenty of reason to love living there. It doesn't help that it's a top place for home ownership. The median home price is almost double that of a similar house elsewhere in California, meaning homeowners in San Francisco could be sitting on a gold mine if they ever want to sell. Housing prices in San Francisco, CA have increased from $422,000 in 2000 to $881,000 in 2010, meaning the average home owner more than doubled their investment.
Visit San Francisco, CA housing page to learn more.
- 2. Honolulu, HIScore: 9.4/10
At first glance, it's hard to imagine why Honolulu would be such a desirable place...oh, who are we kidding? The chance to live in Hawaii is a ticket to paradise for most people, which is why houses are in such demand in Honolulu. Sure, things might be a little pricier in Hawaii compared to the rest of the country, but the higher cost of living hasn't seemed to stop people from wanting to get into the housing market in Honolulu. As of 2010, the median asking price for a home was around $968,000, 15 percent higher than the median home value. This means that people are willing to get into the market at any price.
Visit Honolulu, HI housing page to learn more.
- 3. San Jose, CAScore: 9.4/10
The only thing hotter in the Silicon Valley than Apple products is homes for the people who design them. San Jose is at the heart of the electronics and Internet revolution, making it a prime place to live for people who live and breathe microchips and semiconductors. You don't need to work at Google or even use Google to know that there is a 98 percent occupancy rate in San Jose, a clear sign that people are still interested in moving to the area to pursue their dreams of becoming the next Bill Gates, Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg. Home prices in San Jose, CA have more than doubled since 2000, and are approximately $770,00 on average, making San Jose homes a viable long term investment.
Visit San Jose, CA housing page to learn more.
- 4. Fremont, CAScore: 9.3/10
Not many people outside of California are aware of the Northern California suburb of Fremont, but people who live in the area know that it's one of the most attractive places to live if you work in technology. This is because of its location between San Jose and San Francisco. Jobs in technology are as fluid as the Internet and people need to travel between the two tech hubs regularly. The median home goes for more than $950,000, making Fremont an exclusive place to live. The median home price in Fremont, CA has also increased almost 100% from 2000 to 2010.
Visit Fremont, CA housing page to learn more.
- 5. Scottsdale, AZScore: 8.9/10
People who live in Arizona know that if you want to find the most successful people in the state, you head to Scottsdale. It's grown from a suburb of Phoenix to a distinct city with its own unique vibe. It's earned the reputation for being the "Beverly Hills of the Desert" (sorry, Palm Springs) because of its many shops and restaurants catering to a higher-end clientele. This extends to the homeowners in Scottsdale as well. The median home value is around $492,000, which is almost double the rest of the state. The average home price in Scottsdale, AZ has more than doubled since 2000, making Scottsdale a safe real estate investment.
Visit Scottsdale, AZ housing page to learn more.
- 6. Seattle, WAScore: 8.8/10
Rain and gloomy skies haven't kept people from wanting to move to Seattle - in fact, in many cases it's been a major draw. The city draws an eclectic mix of families, entrepreneurs and dreamers. Then again, the lack of state taxes in Washington also plays a big role in Seattle's popularity. With a median home price around twice that of the rest of Washington, Seattle might not smell like teen spirit anymore, but it does smell like green cash rolling into the home buying market. The average selling price for Seattle, WA homes is over $500,000, up more than 110% from 2000.
Visit Seattle, WA housing page to learn more.
- 7. Washington, DCScore: 8.7/10
When it comes to places that will always have a demand for homes, the nation's capital is right at the top. No matter how bad the economy gets, there always seems to be a never-ending need for politicians, lobbyists and staffers to head to Washington DC in an attempt to make things better. That explains why Washington, DC has a vacancy rate of less than 10 percent. Average home prices in Washington, DC came in over $460,000, almost double what they were 10 years ago.
Visit Washington, DC housing page to learn more.
- 8. New York, NYScore: 8.7/10
The only bad part about the housing market in the Big Apple is trying to find a place to purchase. America's largest city is crammed into tight spaces, making it tough for prospective owners to find a place to purchase. If you can buy, you're in luck, as 42 percent of places are rental units only. If you are lucky enough to find a home for sale, you'll have to deal with huge price tags as New York, NY homes for sale are well over $500,000, on average.
Visit New York, NY housing page to learn more.
- 9. San Diego, CAScore: 8.7/10
When it comes to the reasons you would want to live in San Diego, please refer to our entry for Honolulu and subtract a few thousand miles from the commute to the mainland. The home of Ron Burgundy is also home to one of the most robust home buying marketing in the United States. With more than 48 percent of all units renter occupied, it's a great market for purchasing a home as an investment property. Just be sure to charge enough rent to cover your costs as average home prices in San Diego come in at over $450,000.
Visit San Diego, CA housing page to learn more.
- 10. Los Angeles, CAScore: 8.7/10
Los Angeles isn't just for movie stars - although it might help you purchase a home in Malibu or the Hollywood Hills if you are. The good news for the rest of us is that Los Angeles is a surprising diverse market for home purchasing, with plenty of good deals available in locations throughout the area. The average home price in Los Angeles is just over $440,000, more than double the average national price.
Visit Los Angeles, CA housing page to learn more.
You can refer to our Best Places to Live report for real-time, up-to-date and interactive top 100 best and worst list of cities. The report is sortable, and it allows you to discriminate by the population as well as your preferred state. If you wish to compare cost of living in your city to that of another city, you may use our cost of living calculator.