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Old 08-16-2004, 09:44 AM   #1
SkirtBoy
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Default The 10 most overpriced cities

Do you think where you live is overpriced? You may be in for a shock. No matter how bad you think you may have it, it's a good bet that plenty of other Americans have it worse.

By Betsy Schiffman, Forbes

One of the inalienable rights of American citizenship, although not one expressly cited in the Declaration of Independence, is the ability to complain about how much things cost. Whether it's a gallon of milk, a tank of gas, the price of a Broadway show or real estate prices, we find solace for the damage to our wallets with a little healthy griping.

That griping becomes even more heartfelt when the cost of living isn't keeping pace with people's incomes.

When the U.S. Commerce Department reported a 0.7% dip in spending for June (a much steeper drop than the 0.1% drop economists were expecting), the decline was attributed to the fact that job growth hasn't come back in yet, and personal income growth had been slight. That means residents of major metro areas such as New York or Chicago may rightfully grumble that they're paying boom economy prices for real estate in a non-booming economy.Check out your options.
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Although residents of Boston, New York or San Francisco are obviously willing to pay dearly for housing, the financial blow is usually softened by the promise that they will be earning a decent living and may have the opportunity to advance their careers. When the economy hits a bump, however, it becomes more difficult for big city residents to justify the premiums they pay to live in areas that aren't quite as rich in opportunity as they'd hoped.

Where the payoff isn't there
This is the third time we've compiled our list of the Most Overpriced Places. We determine our findings by looking at the cost of living, housing affordability and job and income growth of the 150 places ranked on Forbes' Best Places For Business. The places with the highest cost of living, least affordable housing and most modest job and income growth are the cities that make it to our list.

There are a few places that have made it here each year -- including San Jose, Calif., and Bergen-Passaic, N.J. -- but we have a few newcomers this year, too. Portland, Ore., for example, has a diverse business base, but it's been saddled with high unemployment numbers and meager job growth; and while the cost of living isn't as exorbitant as places like San Francisco, the median home price there is a good $25,000 above the national median.

A surprising newcomer is Jersey City, N.J., where the cost of living is high, partly as a result of all the New Yorkers who moved across the Hudson River in search of lower tax and housing costs. There has been a great deal of development over the past decade, with new residential and commercial buildings dotting Jersey City's waterfront overlooking lower Manhattan. The city is still mostly a commuter town, however, thanks to an improved ferry system, but there isn't much local job growth yet despite the fact that many Wall Street firms such as PNC and American Express are opening offices here.

The rankings in Forbes' Best Places To Do Business are based on a 1 to 150 scale, where 1 is the best and 150 is the worst. A city that ranks 150 for its cost of living, for example, is the absolute worst of all 150 places in the list. (The rankings we used in this list were based on data from Economy.com and Sperling's Best Places.) The median home prices were taken from the National Association of Realtors' fourth-quarter report on existing family home sales, where the national average was $170,800. (The median home price in Jersey City was not available, however, and the median home price in San Jose came from the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors.) The cities are ranked in the order of the most overpriced to the least overpriced.

The 10 most overpriced cities
Rank City Job growth Income growth Cost of living Housing affordability
1 Seattle 122 149 132 122
2 Bergen-Passaic, N.J. 110 102 141 131
3 Miami 79 132 127 137
4 Portland, Ore. 118 133 114 105
5 Middlesex, N.J. 85 131 138 116
6 San Jose, Calif. 150 28 149 142
7 San Francisco 145 27 150 146
8 Chicago 119 98 123 120
9 New York 103 63 146 143
10 Jersey City, N.J. 98 101 119 135

Source: Economy.com; Sperling's Best Places

The details
1. Seattle. The Seattle metro area is home to some of the largest American corporations (such as Boeing and Microsoft), but that doesn't mean that the cost of living and housing are proportionate to the job and income growth in the area. The Economic Development Council of Seattle and King County argues that there's a reason for the high housing costs -- mainly because roughly 25% of local residents are in either professional or managerial positions.

2. Bergen-Passaic, N.J. To be fair, few people move to the Bergen-Passaic area in hopes of finding a job in town. The area is full of professionals who commute to and from New York. Still, local residents are almost paying big city prices to live outside the big city. In terms of job growth, the area ranked 110 out of 150, and income growth was 102 out of 150 places ranked.

3. Miami. Florida may have led the nation in adding new jobs last year, but Miami-Dade County's unemployment is still higher than the national average (above 7%). In a Miami Herald report, Gov. Jeb Bush said Miami's lagging unemployment rate was due to the fact that Miami was "unique" because of its high costs. He got that right. The city ranked 137 out of 150 places for housing affordability and 127 out of 150 for cost of living. Living in the sand and sun isn't cheap, apparently.

4. Portland, Ore. "We need to improve the business climate of the Portland area, because we are racked with some of the highest unemployment rates and the lowest job-creation rates in the country. Those are unacceptable." Those were the words of Jonathan Schlueter in an Oregonian interview after he was named the executive director of the non-profit Westside Economic Alliance in Portland. During the tech boom, Oregon became a desirable destination for professionals hoping to find an affordable alternative to the Bay Area, but it ended up driving up the cost of living, and the job market hasn't quite caught up.

5. Middlesex, N.J. Some of the largest employers in Middlesex include large companies such as Bristol-Myers Squibb and Merrill Lynch, and the area's unemployment rate has been below the national average (last year it was 5.4% while the national unemployment rate was 6%), but it's not clear how many people are employed locally since Middlesex County, roughly 40 miles away from New York City, is also a major bedroom community for New York professionals.

6. San Jose. San Jose, the largest city in the Bay Area, wasn't really considered a desirable place to live prior to the tech boom. During the late 1990s, however, as housing prices rocketed along with the stock market, it became just as expensive as its northern neighbor, San Francisco. Now the city is left with a 6.8% unemployment rate hangover, and housing costs are still among the highest in the country.

7. San Francisco. The median home price in San Francisco is $597,300, and the city ranked 145 out of 150 for job growth, making it a difficult place for Americans who haven't already made their millions in the technology industry to settle down and raise a family, or find a new job. Still, for anyone pursuing a career in the technology industry, the Bay Area is the best option.

8. Chicago. While the Chicago economy is showing modest improvements -- the unemployment rate declined by 0.9% according to the most recent statistics released by the Illinois Department of Employment Security -- its job growth ranking leaves much room for improvement, and its 6.2% unemployment rate is still above the national average (currently at 5.5%). Still, the $228,100 median home price is significantly less expensive than places like San Francisco, where the median is above $500,000.

9. New York. New York expensive? Fuggedaboudit! As of June 2004, the unemployment rate in New York City was a steep 7.4%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Meanwhile, New York still remains one of the most expensive cities in terms of the cost of living and housing affordability. But as they say, if you can make it there, you'll make it anywhere.

10. Jersey City, N.J. Although Jersey City is showing some economic promise, the cost of living is still high in relation to the local job growth. The city is trying to sell itself as its own economic hub, and even managed to persuade Wall Street financial firm Goldman Sachs to move into a new office tower on the waterfront, which is estimated to have added 1,100 jobs to Jersey City's local economy. Still, the city has a bit more growing to do before its job market catches up to the local cost of living.
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Old 08-16-2004, 09:49 AM   #2
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I call b.s. Boston DEFINITELY should be on there.

They charge so much for a stinkin' studio apartment, it'd make your head spin.
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Old 08-16-2004, 09:57 AM   #3
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Ahhh... I love WY
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Old 08-16-2004, 09:58 AM   #4
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Boston is a freaking bargain compared to San Francisco and New York. And, I'd be living in Portland, OR right now if the economy there wasn't so ****ed.

Boston is expensive, but not that bad compared to other cities.
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Old 08-16-2004, 10:03 AM   #5
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I dunno. 5 friends rent a house in Boston for about $3,200/month.
3 used to pay $1,800 for a small apartments....
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Old 08-16-2004, 10:04 AM   #6
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I paid $1550 for a ONE bedroom in San Francisco.
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Old 08-16-2004, 10:05 AM   #7
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Yeah, 1/2 that will get you a nice, 1100-plus sq ft two bedroom in Orlando.
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Old 08-16-2004, 10:05 AM   #8
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And it's not just rent that makes San Francisco expensive. My insurance was more, gas was more, food was more.
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Old 08-16-2004, 10:06 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Subi Chicky
Yeah, 1/2 that will get you a nice, 1100-plus sq ft two bedroom in Orlando.
True, but then you'd be in Orlando
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Old 08-16-2004, 10:07 AM   #10
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Gas costs more in CA because they are required to use a more clean burning gas than we have to here in MA. I wouldn't doubt for a second that other stuff costs more in CA.
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Old 08-16-2004, 10:10 AM   #11
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I don't know . . . I'd rather be in Orlando than a lot of places.

The food and gas and rent are the cheapest in Vegas of places I've lived.
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Old 08-16-2004, 10:15 AM   #12
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Gas in Vegas isn't cheap, it's cheaper in Boston!
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Old 08-16-2004, 10:19 AM   #13
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Philly is cheap!
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Old 08-16-2004, 10:20 AM   #14
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Hmph. I thought for sure Washington DC would be on there.......or at least some of the suburbs at least.
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Old 08-16-2004, 10:25 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WagonMonster
... I'd be living in Portland, OR right now if the economy there wasn't so ****ed.
we just tell people that to keep you out.
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Old 08-16-2004, 10:27 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WagonMonster
And, I'd be living in Portland, OR right now if the economy there wasn't so ****ed.
Portland is a gorgeous city (when its not raining). I have some family that lives out there and they love it.

as long as you dont have children and have to send them to public school the area is great.
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Old 08-16-2004, 10:33 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by il96
Philly is cheap!
yeah, if you're a baller. my lady and i couldn't find a one-bedroom big enough for a couple in a nice part of town for less than $1,200. and most one-bedrooms at that price point were BARELY big enough and more like studios.
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Old 08-16-2004, 10:33 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WagonMonster
I paid $1550 for a ONE bedroom in San Francisco.
You could find that in Boston as well, you just have to move closer to the city.

My neighbors here in Somerville pay $1400 for a one bedroom, but it is really nice.
The story is talking about the cost of buying anyway

Quote:
I call b.s. Boston DEFINITELY should be on there.

They charge so much for a stinkin' studio apartment, it'd make your head spin.
Read the article, it explains why

This story does not look at rental prices, they are looking at the cost of buying

Additionally, the story is about the most overpriced cities, not the most expensive so they are also talking about the cost of living vs the the job market offered by the city. In which case Boston offers a lot in return for the high price of living, so does not deserve to make the list
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Old 08-16-2004, 10:37 AM   #19
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Bah, I lived in Eugene for 5 years, so I get grandfathered in!

But seriously, find me a Web Dev job and I can be there by the end of the month!

MonstAr hearts Portland
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Old 08-16-2004, 10:37 AM   #20
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Heh heh heh... middlesex
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Old 08-16-2004, 10:37 AM   #21
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I did read the article, and I still think it should be there, judging by the supposed parameters.
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Old 08-16-2004, 10:39 AM   #22
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this list isn't just based on rent/housing/costs of living . . . it's plotting that figure against economic development (i.e. salaries of jobs IN THAT TOWN, job growth IN THAT TOWN, etc). that's why you're not seeing Boston, Philly, DC, etc. on the list - the people who live there have jobs that pay them enough in the same town to allow him to live there, making it not that "expensive" in the eyes of this particular stat.

Jersey City is on there because speculative yuppies are snatching the housing up and rehabbing it, which is driving the cost of ANY housing in town up . . . yet said yuppies do not work in Jersey City.
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Old 08-16-2004, 10:39 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Siper2
I did read the article, and I still think it should be there, judging by the supposed parameters.
I don't, having lived in San Francisco and having family from New York.
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Old 08-16-2004, 11:09 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WagonMonster
Gas in Vegas isn't cheap, it's cheaper in Boston!
Last time I was there it was. I'm sure like other things it could have changed.

I wish I lived in a bigger city.
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Old 08-16-2004, 11:25 AM   #25
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OMG costal cities are expensive?
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