Curve

What $500k gets you in the city vs the suburbs: You’ll be surprised

Tim Lucas
The Mortgage Reports editor

What difference does 20 miles make?

Apparently, a big one.

We wanted to see what a $500,000 budget would buy in a major city compared to what that same budget would get a buyer in the suburbs.

The city we chose in this instance was Seattle.

The city has held a top spot in thelist of the nation’s hottest housing markets for years running. And our case study proved that, in this city, real estate deals are hard to find.

The $500,000 city home: 660 square foot condo

Our search in the city yielded a 660 square foot loft-style condo.

It’s actually quite nice.

Nested in a converted high school — one of Seattle’s most iconic buildings — the condo supplies a neighborhood feel while being a short Uber ride from the city core.

One of the most alluring amenities, though, is the rooftop deck.

The panoramic view of the Seattle-defining Space Needle — and just about every other building in the city — makes the deck a perfect place for entertaining day or night.

You can’t buy these kind of views.

Want night life? Want a short commute? You’ve got it.

$500,000 in the suburbs: 4 beds, 2.5 baths, and 2,000 square feet

Just 20 miles away, a 2,000-square-foot, 4-bedroom beauty can be had for about the same price as the city condo.

This is brand-new construction. Never been lived in. New homes often come with warranties, and the peace-of-mind that comes with modern building codes.

Newer homes feature up-to-date styling. Expect walk-in closets, large bathrooms and kitchens, plus a place for that wide-screen.

But before you ask, “Why wouldn’t someone buy this for the same price as the condo?” remember that this is 20 miles away from where you would likely be working.

In some areas of the country, 20 miles is no big deal. But in Seattle, that distance can equal an hour of commuting or more.

Seattle traffic is some of the worst in the U.S.

Still, buying in the suburbs makes sense for those with larger families that need space or individuals who just want a slower pace of life. If you work outside the city, can work remotely, or work off-hours, living in the suburbs makes even more sense.

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