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What will $1 million bucks buy these days? | Manolo for the Home

What will $1 million bucks buy these days?

When I was younger, I’d hear things like “a quarter of a million dollars” and marvel at how much money that must be. Oh, how times have changed! Most of the real estate in my own neighborhood goes for at least twice that, and plenty of the houses just blocks away from my own last sold for far more than a million!

If I had a million bucks, I’d invest the crap out of it in low-risk investments that would sit untouched until it came time for me to retire. I do plan to save up a cool mil, but writing isn’t exactly a profession that nets you sick windfalls unless you’re a J.K. Rowling or a Stephen King. I’m working on it, all right?

San Fran

So what does one million dollars buy you these days? Forbes had a great slideshow on its web site illustrating what you can get for that sum around the U.S. The pic above is what you can buy in San Fransisco: a 3-bedroom pad with views of the Bay.

New York City

In Manhattan, it’s an apartment, natch.

North Dallas

In North Dallas, you get a 5,522 square-foot home. Big!


In Chicago, it’s five bedrooms and three bathrooms, circa 1893.

I rather like the fact that in some parts of the country, one million bucks doesn’t buy you much more than we bought for a third of that in beautiful Beverly, MA. At least I know that we eked our money’s worth out of our real estate purchase. I say, enjoy what you have and don’t worry about what other people are buying for whatever you paid for your house. Prices are in some sense arbitrary, so rock what you’ve got!

7 Responses to “What will $1 million bucks buy these days?”

  1. JaneC May 5, 2008 at 12:51 pm #

    Actually, though the Forbes site says “Million-Dollar Starter Homes” it notes that the pictured house in San Francisco is actually $4.9 million. $1 million won’t buy three bedrooms in a decent neighborhood in SF.

    However, for those willing to make an hour-long commute into San Francisco, the house where I grew up in the beautiful Napa Valley (18 years old, 5 bedrooms on 1/3 of an acre) is worth $1 million.

  2. Laura V May 5, 2008 at 2:48 pm #

    Every time I see one of these articles I am glad to live where I do (Pittsburgh, PA). I know more than one person who bought a “starter home” for under $30K — fixer-uppers, of course — and one can get nice “starter homes” in move-in condition around here without breaking six figures. Which leaves more money for important stuff, like hockey tickets, fancy hats, and an enormous liquor cabinet.

  3. Twistie May 5, 2008 at 4:57 pm #

    Mr. Twistie and I saved a lot of money by inheriting our 3/4 of a million dollar mansion near – but not in – San Francisco. A house down the street from us sold for 1.5 million a couple years ago. Four bedrooms, formal dining room, 2 1/2 baths, and a one bed guest cottage in the fairly small backyard.

    We walked through it and dreamed a bit, but there’s no way we’re moving any time soon! If we suddenly got a million dollars, we’d definitely do some fixing on the place we’ve already got…and blow the rest on awesomely fun stuff and a new car.

  4. Eilish May 5, 2008 at 11:34 pm #

    Here in Southern California, the market can be more than a bit nuts. Our little town in the Inland Valley used to be a farming community but has now devolved into a bedroom community for LA and Orange county commuters. For this reason, we now have over a million dollar TRACT HOMES! They can dress them up all they want, but this is insane to me. I can’t imagine who will buy them, but I guess there must be some sort of market.

    I wouldn’t trade my 1970s custom built ranch for any of them because they all sit on miniscule lots and I have nearly a quarter of an acre. IMHO, size of house runs a distant second to size of lot. But then, I’m a gardener.

  5. Emily May 7, 2008 at 8:51 am #

    Greetings to another Beverly, MA resident! How fabulous. Enjoy the nice spell of weather we’re having.

  6. Never teh Bride May 8, 2008 at 6:57 am #

    Nice to meet you, Emily! At least now that it’s raining I can be happy that my plants are getting their drink on.

  7. Emily May 8, 2008 at 10:27 am #

    Don’t get me started about plants. If you happen to hear someone yelling at seedlings, no you’re not going insane, that will be me “encouraging” them.

    Best of luck with the book- I really enjoy your blogs.