HOW TO GET A $2,000,000.00 HOME FOR A SONG

By in Real Estate, Saving | 14 comments


“Owning a home is a keystone of wealth.. both financial affluence and emotional security”. –Suze Orman (from

For as long as I can remember, real estate was a part of my life. On Sunday’s we would pile in the car to look at real estate my parent’s company owned or preview property for sale. One of my first jobs out of college was in real estate sales. I started investing in real estate in my 20’s and to this day, work for a real estate holding company.

This past summer, El Carino and I relocated and purchased a “short sale” condo. Our home is 2 stories, 1,800 square feet, with 4 (tiny) bedrooms. Comparable homes to ours in New York City sell for $2,000,000.00 to $3,000,000.00. Our purchase price was nowhere near that amount.

My interest in real estate transcends real property and extends to home decorating. In order to meet my decorating “fix” HGTV is my television destination. One of my favorite shows is “House Hunters.” The program tails buyers across the country as they look for their ideal property. I cannot get away from the reality that….

An identical property can sell from $200,000.00 to $2,000,000.00, depending upon its location!

We moved from a very low cost of living area to a more expensive one (not NYC). Consequently, the house we sold cost less and had more square feet than the new home we bought. And, as I boldly stated, a comparable home to ours would easily cost in the millions in New York City.



Real Estate Strategy

I’ve discussed this topic before; building wealth can be accelerated by living in a low cost of living area. Life is all about choices. Do you want the excitement of living in LA, Chicago, NYC, or San Fransisco? If so, be willing to pay 100% to 400% more for a home than in St. Louis, Missouri. When El Carino was job hunting, I was a regular visitor at a cost of living calculator. Every time he had an interview, I plugged in the numbers to determine what salary was appropriate for the job and location. In fact, in the early parts of our lives, we deliberately chose to live in lower cost of living areas to maximize our lifestyle and savings.  Those decisions paid off quite well. We fed our love of the arts and theatre with occasional visits to major cities and returned willingly to our less expensive abode. Paula at Afford Anything takes the concept globally, and talks about the lowest cost of living spots internationally.

I encourage anyone who is younger, mobile, and interested in building up a nice nest egg to consider their geographic location and cost of living when considering their future. Tens of thousands of dollars can be saved each year by opting to live in a less expensive area. Live in middle America and you too can have a million dollar home (by New York City standards) for a fraction of the cost.

Would you sacrifice the excitement of the “big city” for thousands of dollars in long term wealth?

cost of living data credit; cnnmoney



  1. Considering I’m not really a city gal this is a no-brainer for me anyway. Having lived in both a 480 sf studio and a 2000sf home in my life, I’d say that proximity to location is important. But location is not the holy grail of real estate for me that it is for some.

    Andi @ MealPlanRescue

    February 15, 2012

  2. I am fortunate to live in a town with a great cost of living. A home that would cost $2million in San Francisco can be had for $300,000 here, maybe less.

    People who live in those areas say they pay more for the nightlife, culture, etc, which is fine. I’m just not willing to work that much harder to build wealth for the sake of some trendy clubs.

    John | Married (with Debt)

    February 15, 2012

  3. Along with a lower cost of living, there are lower wages too and less opportunities. There is no perfect area to live. For example, the majority of the people who work in New York City do not live there. They live in the neihboring states which are somewhat cheaper to live. I do embrace your point that it is all about choices.


    February 15, 2012

  4. @Andi and @ John, That type of flexibility will assist you in wealth building. Being able to live in a variety of settings increases your options for cutting expenses.Those who are not wedded to “big city” living can cut way down on their housing and living costs.
    @Krantcents- Obviously you can make a go of it anywhere. It’s just much easier to buy a home when the median home price is lower than $500,000.


    February 15, 2012

  5. As you say, this is a life style choice among other things. I would not want to leave the NYC area for many reasons, but even financially it is a good place to be. (1) There are lots of opportunities to make money in a place like NYC. (2) It is possible to afford more expensive housing, since a smaller percentage of your (higher) income is used for other essentials like food, transportation, etc.

    Besides, NYC is not that expensive compared to other big cities in the world as you can see on this chart . Among the cheaper places I have totally fallen in love with Buenos Aires, but my own cariño is not so fond of the place to say it politely. I guess we’ll stay put in NYC…..


    February 15, 2012

  6. Thanks for the mention!!

    I guess it depends on what you do for work. If I could snag a job that paid $143,000 in NYC, I’d do it, “cash up,” and then go retire in a cheaper location.

    On a global scale, I suppose that’s exactly what I’m doing — earning my money in America, getting paid in U.S. dollars, so that I can spend it on vacations in countries with lower costs, like Indonesia or Colombia.

    Paula @ Afford Anything

    February 15, 2012

  7. @Ctreit-And that is the perfect example of they types of trade offs individuals like to make. I have several relatives who wouldn’t trade NYC for anything. For us, it’s a great place to vacation 🙂
    @Paula-Great example of maximizing your earnings.


    February 15, 2012

  8. We live in Houston, and the cost of homes here are very cheap (at least compared to where I am from, PA). I am very thankful for it! It is a city, but the cost of living is much lower than other cities. Sort of a good compromise.

    Amanda L Grossman

    February 15, 2012

  9. I am grateful that I was “planted” in the low-cost mid-western state of Michigan. HGTV is also my wife’s favorite channel to land on, and I often get caught up watching the same shows. We make a game out of guessing which house each couple will choose. #1, #2, or #3?! Like you, I am amazed at how much money people pay for houses that are comparable, or even inferior to mine!


    February 16, 2012

  10. @Amanda, Houston is supposed to be a desirable city. I’m surprised the COL is lower than in PA. You’ve got good weather and big city amenities, sounds like a win win.
    @Matt-Michigan has many lovely ammenities, with the lakes and skiiing and a rebirth in the Detroit area. Plus, you are close to Chicago for the big city life!! And, don’t get me started on HGTV!!! It’s totally my guilty pleasure 🙂


    February 16, 2012

  11. Excellent point Barb! What price are you willing to pay for location? If you are young (and without kids), you can easily skip criteria like school district etc., and save a ton by choosing to live in less expensive locations.


    February 16, 2012

  12. @Money-Our move this summer was awesome… Bought a condo and didn’t worry about the school district!!!


    February 17, 2012

  13. Barb -Check out home prices in Detroit if you want to get a home for a song. Search online listings – you might be able to get a stately looking home, and practically put in on your credit card for a few thousand dollars 🙂

    Really though, I’m pulling for the Motor City to revive and see good times. Point is that there are some extreme deals out there depending on where one lives. I’m staying here in the Chicago area, so I’m probably trading value for location…minus the warmth of course:)


    February 17, 2012

  14. Hi Squirrelers, I’m rooting for Michigan too, and the auto industry is turning around a bit. Florida is another state with big bargains. Of course, Chicago is one of the most exciting cities in the country, with some affordable homes on the outskirts.


    February 17, 2012


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