A House for $500K: Vancouver vs. 25 other cities


In 2013, The Economist ranked Vancouver as the most expensive place to live in North America. With real estate prices still on the up and up, this is great news for people who already own their homes, but what about those of us looking to enter the real estate market?

Many young families still have the dream to live in a detached home with a yard. Apartment-living isn’t for everyone, especially those expanding their families, and the cost of a city apartment big enough to house a family of four is pretty hefty.

A lot of us grew up in a Vancouver where owning a three-bedroom home close to the city and other amenities was not too hard. When my parents had children and bought a house in North Vancouver, the average price of a detached home here was only around $150,000. Today, it is $1.2 million.

If you’re feeling kind of nauseous right about now, you’re not the only one. I’m going to have to go watch Love Actually five times to reverse the stress of writing this article.

That being said, I thought I’d find some solace by searching real estate in other North American cities. I don’t have plans to move to St. Louis, but if I ever do, I sure won’t have a problem affording a house there.

So here was my query: What can you get for approximately $500,000 in other North American cities? My criteria for the search was based on the qualities of a starter home:

  • a detached home
  • minimum three bedrooms
  • a yard
  • close to the city
  • in a decent neighbourhood

Upon selecting these homes, I tried my best to choose homes the average person wouldn’t mind living in. When there was lots of selection, neighbourhood and quality of home took precedent. When there wasn’t much choice, proximity to the city was number one.

Starting off in Vancouver, here are the results:

Vancouver, British Columbia

Like many big cities, there are virtually no single-family detached homes for $500,000 in the City of Vancouver. This home was the closest proximity to downtown Vancouver for the price and criteria I had selected.

Neighbourhood/Region: Surrey
Distance from city centre: 33.9 km
Square footage: 1479 sq. ft.
Number of bedrooms: 3
Asking price: $479,000

Vancouver exterior

Vancouver interior

Images via Realtor.ca

Halifax, Nova Scotia

Neighbourhood/Region: West End, Halifax Peninsula
Distance from city centre: 3.1 km
Square footage: 2148 sq. ft.
Number of bedrooms: 4
Asking price: $489,000

Halifax exterior

Halifax interior

Images via Realtor.ca

Montreal, Quebec

Neighbourhood/Region: Saint-Basile-le-Grand, Quebec
Distance from city centre: 25.5 km
Square footage:
Number of bedrooms: 4
Asking price: $499,900

Montreal exterior

Montreal interior

Images via Remax Quebec

New York, New York

Neighbourhood/Region: Jamaica, New York
Distance from city centre: 26.8 km
Square footage: 1280 sq. ft.
Number of bedrooms: 3
Asking price: $476,000

New York exterior

New York interior

Images via Realtor.com

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Neighbourhood/Region: Wyndmoor, Northwest Philadelphia
Distance from city centre: 18.6 km
Square footage: 2376 sq. ft.
Number of bedrooms: 3
Asking price: $485,000

Philadelphia exterior

Philadelphia interior

Images via Realtor.com

Washington, D.C.

Neighbourhood/Region: Silver Spring, Maryland
Distance from city centre: 10.2 km
Square footage: 1550 sq. ft.
Number of bedrooms: 3
Asking price: $499,000

Washington exterior

Washington interior

Images via Realtor.com

Toronto, Ontario

Neighbourhood/Region: East Danforth
Distance from city centre: 7.2 km
Square footage:
Number of bedrooms: 3
Asking price: $499,000

Toronto exterior

Toronto interior

Images via Realtor.ca

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Neighbourhood/Region: Oakmont, Pennsylvania
Distance from city centre: 19.1 km
Square footage:
Number of bedrooms: 3
Asking price: $474,900

Pittsburgh exterior

Pittsburgh interior

Images via Realtor.com

Naples, Florida

Neighbourhood/Region: Upper Estates
Distance from city centre: 26.7 km
Square footage: 2260 sq. ft.
Number of bedrooms: 3
Asking price: $529,900

Naples exterior

Naples interior

Images via Realtor.com

Detroit, Michigan

Neighbourhood/Region: Huntington Woods
Distance from city centre: 24.3 km
Square footage: 2242 sq. ft.
Number of bedrooms: 3
Asking price: $499,000

Detroit exterior

Detroit interior

Images via Realtor.com

Atlanta, Georgia

Neighbourhood/Region: Brookhaven, Atlanta
Distance from city centre: 19.7 km
Square footage: 1845 sq. ft.
Number of bedrooms: 3
Asking price: $499,000

Atlanta exterior

Atlanta interior

Images via Realtor.com

Nashville, Tennessee

Neighbourhood/Region: West End, Tennessee
Distance from city centre: 6.5 km
Square footage: 2417 sq. ft.
Number of bedrooms: 3
Asking price: $499,900

Nashville exterior

Nashville interior

Images via Realtor.com

Chicago, Illinois

Neighbourhood/Region: Grand Boulevard, Chicago
Distance from city centre: 10.5 km
Square footage: 5000 sq. ft.
Number of bedrooms: 4
Asking price: $550,000

Chicago exterior

chicago interior

Images via Realtor.com

St. Louis, Missouri

Neighbourhood/Region: Central West End, St. Louis
Distance from city centre: 6.6 km
Square footage: 3600 sq. ft.
Number of bedrooms: 6
Asking price: $539,900

St. Louis exterior

St. Louis interior

Images via Realtor.com

New Orleans, Louisiana

Neighbourhood/Region: Uptown, New Orleans
Distance from city centre: 5 km
Square footage: 2106 km
Number of bedrooms: 3
Asking price: $489,000


New Orleans exterior

New Orleans interior

Images via Realtor.com

Houston, Texas

Neighbourhood/Region: Garden Oaks, Houston
Distance from city centre: 14.3 km
Square footage: 2136 sq. ft.
Number of bedrooms: 4
Asking price: $494,900

Houston exterior

Houston interior

Images via Realtor.com

Austin, Texas

Neighbourhood/Region: Lakeway, Texas
Distance from city centre: 40 km
Square footage: 3132 sq. ft.
Number of bedrooms: 3
Asking price: $500,000

Austin exterior

Austin interior

Images via Realtor.com

Fargo, North Dakota

Neighbourhood/Region: South Fargo
Distance from city centre: 11.8 km
Square footage: 2021 sq. ft.
Number of bedrooms: 5
Asking price: $498,900

Fargo exterior

Fargo interior

Images via Realtor.com

Winnipeg, Manitoba

Neighbourhood/Region: Elm Park, Winnipeg
Distance from city centre: 7.1 km
Square footage: 2664 sq. ft.
Number of bedrooms: 3
Asking price: $499,900

Winnipeg exterior

Winnipeg interior

Images via Realtor.ca

Denver, Colorado

Neighbourhood/Region: Virginia Village, Denver
Distance from city centre: 9.2 km
Square footage: 1226 sq. ft.
Number of bedrooms: 3
Asking price: $509,500

Denver exterior

Denver interior

Images via Realtor.com

Phoenix, Arizona

Neighbourhood/Region: Phoenix Mountains Preserve
Distance from city centre: 17.4 km
Square footage: 2065 sq. ft.
Number of bedrooms: 3
Asking price: $499,900

Phoenix exterior

Phoenix interior

Images via Realtor.com

Calgary, Alberta

Neighbourhood/Region: Vista Heights, Calgary
Distance from city centre: 6.7 km
Square footage: 1729 sq. ft.
Number of bedrooms: 3
Asking price: $519,000

Calgary exterior

Calgary interior

Images via Realtor.ca

Los Angeles, California

Neighbourhood/Region: Northeast Los Angeles
Distance from city centre: 6.7
Square footage: 1386 sq. ft.
Number of bedrooms: 3
Asking price: $499,000

LA exterior

LA interior

Images via Realtor.com

Sacramento, California

Neighbourhood/Region: Curtis Park, Sacramento
Distance from city centre: 5.7 km
Square footage: 1860 sq. ft.
Number of bedrooms: 4
Asking price: $499,950

Sacramento exterior

Sacramento interior

Images via Realtor.com

San Francisco, California

Neighbourhood/Region: Oakland, California
Distance from city centre: 11.2 km
Square footage: 1347 sq. ft.
Number of bedrooms: 3
Asking price: $499,000

San Francisco exterior


San Francisco interior

Images via Realtor.com

Seattle, Washington

Neighbourhood/Region: North Beacon Hill, Seattle
Distance from city centre: 5.4 km
Square footage: 2160 sq. ft.
Number of bedrooms: 3
Asking price: $500,000

Seattle exterior

Seattle interior

Images via Realtor.com

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About the author

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Jill Slattery Jill Slattery was born and raised in Vancouver, where she also earned an Arts degree from UBC in English and Creative Writing. She is an avid TV-watcher and a shameless Taylor Swift fangirl. Jill is a Staff Writer at Vancity Buzz. Contact her at jill@vancitybuzz.com

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