Join 3,499 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Not surprisingly, Detroit didn't make the list.
May 12, 2009 4:41 PM   Subscribe

Thinking of relocating in these troubled economic times? You might want to consider checking out Forbes' list of The Most Overpriced Cities in America. The Top 5: Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, New York, and... Providence?
posted by grapefruitmoon (56 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
I've been to Providence. If they're not giving away land and houses then yeah, it's overpriced.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 4:46 PM on May 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


Tupac Shakur mused in 1996 that the overall cost of living in Los Angeles was so high he would almost rather “live life in the pen[itentiary]."

Thank you, Forbes, for your indispensable lyrical clarification.
posted by decagon at 4:47 PM on May 12, 2009 [14 favorites]


Also, allow me to be the first of many to complain about putting each ranking on a separate page.

Fuck you, Forbes.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 4:48 PM on May 12, 2009 [13 favorites]


Thank you, Forbes, for your indispensable lyrical clarification.

Not all readers of Forbes are down with Steele.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:49 PM on May 12, 2009 [4 favorites]


Also, allow me to be the first of many to complain about putting each ranking on a separate page.

Holy mother of god that navigation is clunky and awful... not even an elegant Flash or Ajax transition, plus I was distracted for a minute and the slideshow had already walked itself over into the next story. I am grudgingly compelled to summarize:

Most expensive cities:
19. Boston MA & Warren MI, 18. San Francisco CA, 17. Jacksonville FL, 16. St Louis MO, 15. Orlando FL, 14. Omitted due to tie, 13. Memphis TN & Tampa FL, 12. Portland OR, 11. Philadelphia PA, 10. Omitted due to tie, 9. San Diego CA & Newark NJ, 8. Cleveland OH, 7. Long Island NY, 6. Riverside CA, 5. Providence RI, 4. New York NY, 3. Miami FL, 2. Chicago IL, 1. Los Angeles CA.

I'd do the list for where Americans are relocating but I'd need another 20 minutes.
posted by crapmatic at 5:01 PM on May 12, 2009 [4 favorites]


We do have the most ridiculously priced cocktails in the country, that's for sure.
posted by scody at 5:02 PM on May 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's interesting that Philadelphia is on that list. There are lots of cheap places to live, if you're not too picky.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:06 PM on May 12, 2009


No. 19 (tie): Boston, Mass. (tie)
No. 19 (tie): Warren, Mich.
No. 18: San Francisco, Calif.
No. 17: Jacksonville, Fla.
No. 16: St. Louis, Mo.
No. 15: Orlando, Fla.
No. 13 (tie): Memphis, Tenn.
No. 13 (tie): Tampa, Fla.
No. 12: Portland, Ore.
No. 11: Philadelphia, Pa.
No. 9 (tie): San Diego, Calif.
No. 9 (tie): Newark, N.J.
No. 8: Cleveland, Ohio
No. 7: Long Island, N.Y.
No. 6: Riverside, Calif.
No. 5: Providence, R.I.
No. 4: New York, N.Y.
No. 3: Miami, Fla.
No. 2: Chicago, Ill.
No. 1: Los Angeles, Calif.
posted by bz at 5:07 PM on May 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


Wait, Cleveland is more overpriced than Boston?! I think their metrics might be weighting unemployment a little too heavily.
posted by ubersturm at 5:07 PM on May 12, 2009


Oops. Too late I see. (I was expecting a column when I previewed)
posted by bz at 5:08 PM on May 12, 2009


We're Number One! We're Number One!! Wooooohoooooooooooooo!!!!
posted by The World Famous at 5:09 PM on May 12, 2009


They do a very poor job of explaining their metrics and ranking. Does 8 out of 50 for unemployment mean that it has the 8th lowest unemployment or the 8th highest? If so, does 8 out of 50 for average salary a correspondingly low/high metric? Couple this with the irritating page-hit inflating format and count me as one of those who dumped it after the first two clicks.
posted by ooga_booga at 5:14 PM on May 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


So basically if you live near a bunch of other people, you're paying too much. Gotcha.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:14 PM on May 12, 2009


Datapoint: I paid six dollars for a soda the other night in L.A.

(Although I suppose that technically I was in West Hollywood, which is it's own city).
posted by Bookhouse at 5:15 PM on May 12, 2009


Interesting that Portland is on the list, but Seattle is not. Oregon has a state income tax, but no sales tax. Washington has no income tax, but very high sales taxes, with Seattle having the highest in the state. I would've expected Portland to be cheaper than Seattle for that very reason.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:18 PM on May 12, 2009


I was getting all optimistic that DC had suddenly become affordable or something, but this list isn't most expensive cities, apparently, it's most overpriced. They say they're looking at living expenses, earning potential, and unemployment, not just cost of living or housing prices.
posted by dilettante at 5:22 PM on May 12, 2009


This list is stupid because it's based on cost of living v. earning power and has nothing to do with the cities at all. It's a good list of "cities where it's hardest to save money given likely income and expenditure" but an "overpriced city" would be a city that isn't awesome enough given how expensive it is.
posted by moxiedoll at 5:23 PM on May 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


The whole notion of "overpriced" is largely subjective because it's about perceived value. So yeah, this list is nonsense.
posted by dhammond at 5:27 PM on May 12, 2009


I find this... questionable. The general consensus among my friends - most of whom have spend a few years living places other than Philadelphia - is that while it's not a cheap city, it's a cost-effective city, where one can experience all those nifty city things like culture and shows and museums and music while having inexpensive housing and being genuinely car-optional, which saves a bundle.
posted by Tomorrowful at 5:32 PM on May 12, 2009


Cool Papa Bell: "Interesting that Portland is on the list, but Seattle is not. Oregon has a state income tax, but no sales tax. Washington has no income tax, but very high sales taxes, with Seattle having the highest in the state. I would've expected Portland to be cheaper than Seattle for that very reason."

For the Forbes readership, a regressive tax scheme is probably considered vastly preferable.
posted by Kadin2048 at 5:40 PM on May 12, 2009


The median home price in Honolulu is 570,000 today; compared with their top contender LA at 319,000. (http://www.hicentral.com/hbr-stat.asp).

There is a tent city on the west side of Oahu where people employed in the city spend their nights because housing costs are so high. (http://gohawaii.about.com/od/hawaiianpeople/a/oahu_homeless.htm)
The fact that Honolulu is not on this list while Portland Oregon is make me question the validity of this article.
posted by Osmanthus at 5:44 PM on May 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


LA is indeed a ripoff. $1750 per month here gets me a three bedroom apartment in North Hollywood (famous for gun violence! hooray) (and I'm always told this is a steal), and for $250 less in PDX I had a five-bedroom house next to Ladd's Addition.

However, LA wouldn't be a bad place to be homeless. I met a construction worker in Santa Monica who made $25 an hour and lived in the park because he refused to pay $2000 for a one bedroom apartment. Smart man.
posted by mullingitover at 5:44 PM on May 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Another total linkbait list, and we fell for it. By their metrics, Detroit probably came close to the Top 20 for its unemployment rate alone, and Honolulu was too small to be in consideration. Can we add Forbes.com to the list of Sites Self-Respecting MeFites NEVER Post a Link From?
posted by wendell at 5:56 PM on May 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


Someone might want to tell Forbes that Long Island, though overpriced, is not a city.
posted by cjets at 6:05 PM on May 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Read today that many fairly well-paid dudes, living in various outlying areas (Brooklyn etc) from Manhattan are now moving into the city proper (Manhattan) because the recession has dropped prices and those losing jobs moving out. Rhode Island in general is now known for the very lousy shape it is in. Industry moved out; taxes go up and up; unemployment etc make it a state trying to stay afloat through taxing people unable to be taxed any more. they should as soon as possible get some casinos and at least stop the flow of their people to the Ct casinos.
posted by Postroad at 6:21 PM on May 12, 2009


THIS IS AN OUTRAGE!

Seattle didn't even make the list!
posted by tkchrist at 6:26 PM on May 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


$1750 per month here gets me a three bedroom apartment

Um. THREE bedroom? That is a steal.

You can hardly find a 1 bedroom in Seattle proper for that.
posted by tkchrist at 6:28 PM on May 12, 2009


I would've expected Portland to be cheaper than Seattle for that very reason.

It is cheaper. Portland has actual an mass transit system and much better landlord/tenant laws. This list is bullshit.
posted by tkchrist at 6:30 PM on May 12, 2009


Another total linkbait list, and we fell for it.

To be fair, people have reposted the list in the comments, so they're not getting that many pageviews out of it. Joke's on them really, when the punchline of the article is an un-copyrightable list.

I was surprised that the DC metro area wasn't on there, but I suppose it would be difficult to decide how to define the 'city' since it includes not only DC itself but 5 or 6 counties that all have variously urban and suburban parts to them. Depending on where you drew the circle you could probably get some very high or very reasonable 'averages.'
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:31 PM on May 12, 2009


Philadelphia is so expensive I've had to cancel my subscription to Forbes, so that I may still be able to afford soft pretzels.
posted by orme at 6:32 PM on May 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


You can hardly find a 1 bedroom in Seattle proper for that.

For $1750? You're nuts. $1750 can get you lots of apartment in Seattle.
posted by mr_roboto at 6:40 PM on May 12, 2009


While downtown Seattle prices have generally skyrocketed in the last couple of years, and the CD and Southend are being gentrified, I don't think prices are -that- bad yet.

Still, I remember when I moved to the Bay, all my friends saying, "It's so expensive down there!" and in less than a year I was paying less than them, because I'm in the East Bay. A block from the BART train, the lake, the library, the post office, and a short hop from Chinatown.
posted by yeloson at 6:48 PM on May 12, 2009


For $1750? You're nuts. $1750 can get you lots of apartment in Seattle.

Not three bedrooms you sure as hell can't.

Ok. Maybe one or two bedrooms in West Seattle, Ballard and the U-district. 209 listings for one bedroom under $1400. Total 103 listing for under $1800 for two bedrooms. And all of these with no indication of quality or amenities etc.

Which isn't bad but one would expect much more in a city this size. You sure as shit can find more than that in Portland. But I concede there are more 1-2 BR apartments available under $1750 that I though. I am genuinely surprised. Since ten years ago we had a helluva time finding anything under $2000 in places we wanted to live.

For three bedrooms I found 13 listings. Thirteen. Some houses with shared tenancy for $1800 or less. In LA under $1800 is a steal.
posted by tkchrist at 6:56 PM on May 12, 2009


I'm a little surprised to see Chicago so high up on that list, especially higher than New York, which my wife found to be ridiculously overpriced. Although it seems that it's based on the Chicago-Naperville-Joliet CSA, which would seem to neglect a large portion of the Chicago Suburbs (all of Lake County, which according to wikipedia is the 31st richest county in the country). Which may skew the Average Income and Unemployment Rate factors that they use.
posted by borkencode at 7:04 PM on May 12, 2009


New York, which my wife found to be ridiculously overpriced

A sixth of NYC is on food stamps. I don't know if that is a sign that it's not overpriced or a sign that it is.
posted by oaf at 7:14 PM on May 12, 2009


$1750 per month here gets me a three bedroom apartment

Dude, whatever. The only way you'd get a three bedroom anything in NYC for that price would be by personally disposing of the previous tenants in some fresh concrete.
posted by elizardbits at 7:25 PM on May 12, 2009


I was also surprised to see Chicago on that list - I'm paying $1200 for a hyooge place in Logan Square (2 br, 3 offices, yard) that I wouldn't have been able to even imagine affording in another big city and comparable neighborhood.
posted by jtron at 7:56 PM on May 12, 2009


Did I mention I just bought a house for $8000? (So the answer to whether I'm relocating in these trouble times is: yes, yes I am.)
posted by Michael Roberts at 8:03 PM on May 12, 2009


Providence smiles upon its mob -- that might have something to do with it.

[I]n 2006, the Providence Preservation Society inducted the still-incarcerated [former mayor] Mr. Cianci into its Hall of Fame. He sent his regrets, writing that he would not be able to attend because he was “figuratively and literally ‘tied up.’

posted by inkyroom at 8:07 PM on May 12, 2009


A coffee cabinet and a grinder in Providence is wicked expensive now. Even a Haven Bros and a Del's is through the roof. At least the bubbler is still free.
posted by jfrancis at 8:11 PM on May 12, 2009 [5 favorites]


I don't understand this. In terms of simple spending power, Cleveland and St Louis are ridiculously cheap. (I have personal experience with both!) Does this list imply that they're both even bigger shitholes than the low costs of living imply?
posted by slogger at 8:35 PM on May 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


The fact that Honolulu is not on this list while Portland Oregon is make me question the validity of this article.

Indeed. I grew up in Honolulu, and I've spent many years in Portland. My family owns real estate in both places, and I know both cities well. No way is Portland more expensive than Honolulu. In fact, I know several Portlanders who'd love to live in Honolulu, and would do so in a heartbeat, if not for the high cost of living there.
posted by velvet winter at 8:39 PM on May 12, 2009


That's right kids Miami is moving up into the very top tier of American cities. Hell's yeah!

Atlanta, New Orleans, Houston and Dallas can all take a long walk off a short pier, there's a new boss in town down south.

305! M I A! Represent!

Asi se hace.
posted by oddman at 9:06 PM on May 12, 2009


LA is indeed a ripoff. $1750 per month here gets me a three bedroom apartment in North Hollywood.


Dang, I'm in a 1-bedroom basement apartment in D.C. for that... in tha hood : )
posted by pwedza at 1:11 AM on May 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


wendell: I guess some self-respecting MeFites think that other MeFites can choose not to click on a link clearly marked "FORBES LIST" or possibly, if they do, don't whine "Waahhhhh, it's a list from a site I don't like!"
posted by grapefruitmoon at 4:11 AM on May 13, 2009


Providence is a beautiful city. It is also the only city where someone tried to sell me crack openly on the street. (And I've been living in the DC area since the late 80s...)
posted by JoanArkham at 6:03 AM on May 13, 2009


I'm willing to bet the key criteria here is taxes.
posted by eriko at 6:17 AM on May 13, 2009


Memphis is more expensive than boston, san fran, or orlando? There is no way in hell.

I mean, christ, I've got a 3 BR, 1400 sq ft house in a nice neighborhood and my note is 800 dollars (940 before refinancing). I don't see that happening in Boston, unless you're maybe you're talking about slum level housing. But, we got slums, too, and those houses are all under 10k.
posted by absalom at 6:45 AM on May 13, 2009


Though, I suppose if they are saying "overpriced," perhaps they feel *any* amount is too much for a house in Memphis.
posted by absalom at 6:46 AM on May 13, 2009


Nthing confusion at Seattle not making the grade.
posted by Artw at 8:19 AM on May 13, 2009


Kadin2048: I was surprised that the DC metro area wasn't on there, but I suppose it would be difficult to decide how to define the 'city' since it includes not only DC itself but 5 or 6 counties that all have variously urban and suburban parts to them. Depending on where you drew the circle you could probably get some very high or very reasonable 'averages.'

And yet they listed Boston, which has the very same thing going on. Of course, they seem to have ignored more than half the city in doing so.
posted by atbash at 8:19 AM on May 13, 2009


I second that Providence is a great city and that this list is a bit skewed. If you are able to have a job and you are making a reasonable salary it is fairly affordable, especially compared to NYC to the south or Boston to the north. You can find an apartment twice as big for half as much.

BUT the city is in rough shape financially, hell the whole state is. It was, up until recently battling for highest unemployment rate in the country with Michigan. There are lots and lots of cheap houses for sale but they aren't selling. Partly because by now they have been abandoned for too long and there is no copper left in the entire house. Among other things.
posted by WickedPissah at 8:39 AM on May 13, 2009


Wait...Portland? Really? Not true. Unless the thesis of this article is "if you live in a city, it costs more than if you live in buttfuck nowhere."
posted by Lutoslawski at 9:24 AM on May 13, 2009


I lived in Cleveland for a year with no steady income, no saved income, and went to many, many, many sports events.

It is a very cheap city, and it's getting cheaper every day.
posted by SpiffyRob at 9:32 AM on May 13, 2009


Meh. Fwiw, the "housing availability index" and "cost of living" numbers were a lot more in line with my own sense of how expensive each of these places is. E.g., San Francisco ranks close to the bottom (49/50) in terms of "the number of homes sold in a given area that would be affordable to a family earning the local median income," and does poorly in the more generic "cost of living" numbers as well. If, say, you were considering moving to one of these places and had a job offer in hand -- at, say, the median local income -- those two metrics seem a lot more relevant than some random mishmash of unemployment rate, income level, etc.

(My "price of a good beer" metric, on the other hand, tells me that of the places I've lived, San Francisco is kinda pricey, Chicago is kinda cheap, and Toronto is THE MOST EXPENSIVE PLACE ON EARTH.)
posted by chalkbored at 12:29 PM on May 13, 2009


Yeah, what is up with Chicago being #2?

I do think our sales tax to public services ratio is ridiculous and I pretty sure we have the highest public transit fares in the country but housing is a steal compared to other major American cities. You can live in a pretty roomy and even architecturally interesting apartment in a good neighborhood here for around $800 a month.
posted by Jess the Mess at 5:32 PM on May 13, 2009


« Older 2D artwork created by 'simply' folding paper....  |  The Baseball Card Movie is a s... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments