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From The Midwest To Manhattan: What $250k Buys You Across The U.S.

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Anyone living in the American Midwest and chronically watching one of the many house-hunting or housing-flipping reality TV shows (from the comfort of their lovely, jacked-up, four-bedroom, three-bathroom, non-vinyl-siding home) typically experiences a jaw-dropping moment when they see what their $250,000 would get them elsewhere.

Housing prices—and the cost of living in general—vary wildly across the U.S., and while one may be able to live like a king in the best neighborhoods in cities in Michigan or Ohio, it would be a depressing downgrade for the same budget outside the ‘middle’.

While $250,000 can buy a dream house in Lansing, Michigan, for instance, in Los Angeles or Manhattan, the same amount buys a decidedly different dwelling.

The median home cost in Lansing is $66,725, while the median home cost in Manhattan is $965,300.

Even more dramatically, the median home cost in Dayton, Ohio, is $50,700, while in San Francisco, it’s $1,122,500.

Visually, it would look a bit like this, according to Zillow:

A home listed for sale in East Lansing, Michigan for $349,000:

(Click to enlarge)

Source: Zillow

A home in San Francisco for a similar price looks like this:

(Click to enlarge)

Source: Zillow

Try finding something in Manhattan for $250,000 and you’ll end up with … very little by way of square footage.

(Click to enlarge)

(Click to enlarge)

According to Kiplinger, living in Manhattan costs 138.6 percent more than the national average, while San Francisco costs 92.9 percent more.

And the wild differences in costs of living don’t necessarily mean that everyone living in Manhattan is just making a lot more money proportionately. The median household income in Manhattan is $75,513, while the median household income in Lansing is $34,833. Housing prices are more than 14 times more expensive in Manhattan, but salaries aren’t even three times bigger. Related: Equities On Track To Post Best May in a Decade

Even worse, “residents pay a premium of almost 40% at the grocery store, while transportation is 30% above average”, and movie ticket prices are nearly 50% higher than the norm, according to Kiplinger.

 In San Francisco, the second-most expensive city in the U.S., the median household income is $87,701, and while that’s far above the median for Lansing, Kiplinger says “even those with fat paychecks can struggle to make ends meet”.

The third most expensive city on the list is Honolulu, where the cost of living is 88.3 percent above the national average, while the median household income is $77,161. And dollars there have to stretch far because there’s a premium on pretty much all consumer goods, which arrive by boat or plane, making groceries far more expensive than anywhere in the U.S.

The worst-case scenario is potentially Brooklyn, New York, which comes in fourth on Kiplinger’s most expensive city list, but where residents feel the pinch more than anywhere. Here, the cost of living is 82 percent above the average, but median household incomes are only $50,640—or $5,000 below the U.S. median.

The Midwest may sound boring, but if nothing else, it’s looking pretty good for retirement, or for anyone feeling the pinch of trying to making ends meet while busting out of minimal square footage.

By David Craggen for Safehaven.com

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