Coastal metropolises like Los Angeles,
New York, Boston and San Francisco all have their attractions,
from sunshine and shopping to clam chowder and cable
cars. But while still ranked among the most desirable
places to live, hot coastal cities share a common drawback:
a dire lack of affordable housing.
For those of us
who aren't billionaires, even the charms of Broadway
and the beauty of a Pacific sunset might not justify
applying most of our salary to a mortgage payment.
High home prices in popular coastal cities
appear to be driving a wave of migration to less costly
locales, according to Lawrence Yun, economist at the
National Association of Realtors, or NAR. Californians
are buying up properties in cheaper neighboring states.
On the East Coast, Yun said, prospective homeowners
are seeking out property in Virginia and the Carolinas.
Last year, moving firm United Van Lines
reported that California had a higher number of outbound
moves relative to inbound ones for the first time since
1995. For every 44 moves into the state last year, the
company handled 56 outbound moves.
States with a much higher number of people
moving in rather than out included Oregon, Idaho, Arizona
and North Carolina.
Overall, housing affordability nationwide
is at its lowest point in 15 years, according to the
NAR. In December, the percentage of households in California
able to afford a median-priced home stood at 14 percent,
according to the California Association of Realtors.
New York City, Boston, Washington, D.C., and increasingly,
South Florida, according to Yun, are also progressively
unaffordable. The most affordable markets, by contrast,
tend to be in the Midwest.
If you're living in one of the places
on the most-expensive list, take heart. There are plenty
of places in the United States where homes are still
quite affordable. With real estate markets in some popular
relocation venues showing signs of slowing, this might
be a prime period for home buyers to plan a move.
But don't pack up your belongings just
yet. Here are some things to consider when choosing
a new place to live:
Cast a wide net
... at first
When contemplating a move several hours or even time
zones away, the possibilities initially can seem endless.
For those living in the nation's most expensive ZIP
codes, almost anyplace looks like a comparative bargain.
Start with an open mind. Talk to friends
and family about where they live or wish they lived.
Compare prices in Manhattan, N.Y., and Manhattan, Kan.,
using Web sites like Realtor.com
Real Estate. Read articles and books that rank best
places to live. Often they'll point to unexpected locales.
One list ranked Las Cruces, N.M., and Athens, Ga., among
the best destinations for retirees. Boise, Idaho, meanwhile,
topped a Forbes list of places to pursue a business
Online quizzes can also be an entertaining
option. Two to try are Sperling's
Best Places and Find
Your Spot. The sites ask you to specify preferences
for locations based on qualities like climate and cost
of living, then return matches to corresponding towns