If someone were to ask you to describe a million-dollar home, what would you say? To respond correctly, it would depend on where the home is located. For instance, one million bucks is peanuts in a place like Malibu, Calif., On the other hand, you can have a legit mansion in Canton, Ohio.
To give you a clearer picture of where $1 million will buy a little and a lot, GOBankingRates sorted the largest 600 cities in the U.S. by home median list price. Then, using the online home brokerage Redfin, we found the most affordable and most expensive cities where million-dollar homes are actually available. In many cities where the median list price is low, there aren’t any million-dollar homes for sale; they all cost much less. There are also cities where prices are high and $1 million isn’t nearly enough to buy a home. Finally, using Redfin, we included a representative home that was recently on the market. Click through to see what $1 million can buy across the country.
Million-Dollar Homes in the Most Affordable Cities
Are you looking for a mansion? Then consider these affordable places to live, where your dollar buys a lot more square footage.
10. Canton, Ohio
Median list price: $123,900
Canton may be a small city, but that doesn’t mean you can’t live large. The median price per square foot is $66.88. That’s cheap, meaning $1 million can buy you a lot of square footage.
For example, this home on Glenmoor Road offers 8,223 square feet of space, which includes six bedrooms, five baths, a private library, wine cellar and a billiard room. There’s also a heated screened-in veranda with a fireplace, custom bar, chef’s grill and flat-screen TV.
9. Port Huron, Mich.
Median list price: $114,900
The city of Port Huron is located on Lake Huron and the St. Clair River, which makes it great for outdoor activities. Port Huron is also an affordable place to live, with the median list price below the national median list price of $259,000, according to Zillow. The median price per square foot is $77.50.
So, what would $1 million buy? How about a home on the beach? This English Tudor home on Gratiot Avenue was recently on the market. It offers 4,700-plus square feet of space, six bedrooms, a grand foyer with curved staircase to the upstairs, lake views and a master suite with a balcony to enjoy the views.
8. Muskegon, Mich.
Median list price: $109,450
Muskegon is the largest city on the eastern shores of Lake Michigan. It also makes the list of most affordable places to live, with $77.37 as the median price per square foot.
With the home prices so low, what does a $1 million dollar home look like? You can buy a historic home on Lakeshore Drive, which, at the time of its listing, operated as a bed and breakfast. Although the home was built in 1877, it has undergone major renovations, including an updated kitchen in 2017. There’s also no shortage of space with five upper suites in this 4,785-square-foot home. And if the street name isn’t a dead giveaway, the home offers views of Muskegon Lake.
7. Rockford, Ill.
Median list price: $99,900
Rockford is the largest Illinois city outside of the Chicago metropolitan area. Unlike its big-city neighbor, however, Rockford is one of the most affordable places to live. The median price per square foot is $52.34.
If you have $1 million to spend on a home, you can truly live like a king in Rockford. For example, this residence on Harvest Hills Trail boasts 10,000 square feet of living space, a circular driveway with a fountain in the center and 2 acres of land.
6. Anniston, Ala.
Median list price: $99,900
This Alabama city is known for the nearby Talladega Superspeedway and Anniston Army Depot. The cost of living is one of its major pros, with the median house price under $100,000. The median price per square foot is $63.93. Montgomery, Ala, about two hours away, is one city where home prices plummeted in 2017.
For $1 million, you could get a 6,466-square-foot home like this listing on Hillyer High Road. The home offers breathtaking mountain views from its floor-to-ceiling windows. It also has impressive aesthetics with vaulted ceilings, a stone fireplace, a large walk-in shower and a bar with four beer taps. There’s also an outdoor saltwater pool that can be accessed through the downstairs den that leads out to the rock patio.
5. Warren, Ohio
Median list price: $94,900
Warren is fairly close to Youngstown and the Pennsylvania border. This location lets you land impressive home deals, with a median price per square foot of $53.53.
With $1 million to spend you could live like royalty in a mansion on King Graves Road. This beauty offers more than 9,000 square feet of space and is the perfect place to entertain friends and family, with over 5 acres of land and entertainment amenities. These include an outdoor pool with a bar, a theater room and a 4,200-square-foot basement with its own dance floor, bar, game room, lounge and fitness room.
4. Battle Creek, Mich.
Median list price: $94,900
Battle Creek is considered the cereal capital of the world; the breakfast staple was invented there. The city also offers affordable homes. The median price per square foot for a home in Battle Creek is $66.02, making it one of the cheapest cities to live.
With $1 million to spend you can live well in this 4,942-square-foot home on the beach at Goguac Lake. The house features five bedrooms, three living areas with two fireplaces and a gourmet kitchen with two island sitting areas. Outside there is a brick patio, gas fire pit and dock.
3. Trenton, N.J.
Median list price: $89,900
Trenton is the capital of New Jersey and ranks third on this list of affordable places to live where there are million-dollar homes for sale. The median price per square foot is $41.48.
This home on Hilvista Boulevard certainly looks like more than a million bucks. The mansion, which has 9,000 square feet of living space, is a 1929 Norman Tudor constructed of authentic Prince Quarry stone. Homeowners can enjoy a terrace that overlooks the flagstone patio out back as well as Cadwalader Park. Another plus is the heated garage.
2. Cleveland, Ohio
Median list price: $79,900
Home to the Cavaliers, Indians and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland is an eclectic and affordable city. The median price per square foot for a home is $43.76. Cleveland might have some of the most affordable homes in the nation, but it’s still a place where home prices skyrocketed in 2017.
At the time our research was collected, you could purchase this penthouse in the heart of downtown Cleveland for less than $1 million. This large three-story home provides some of the best panoramic views of the city and is intricately designed throughout.
1. Detroit, Mich.
Median list price: $36,300
For generations, Detroit has been called Motor City because of its iconic car industry connections. It also earns the No. 1 spot for most affordable places to live. Your dollar will stretch far at a median home price of $26.51 per square foot. The Bagley neighborhood of Detroit is especially popular right now.
With $1 million to spend you can purchase a sizable home. This residence on Edison Street spans more than 4,500 square feet and is located in the Boston-Edison District. There are seven bedrooms, three full baths and two half baths. Those who like a private book retreat will enjoy the library with a fireplace. Additionally, there are two bedrooms in a separate carriage house with a full kitchen.
Million-Dollar Homes in the Most Expensive Cities
When you think of the most expensive places to live, cities in California will certainly come to mind. So it’s not surprising that nine out of 10 cities on our list are in located in the Golden State. When it comes to $1 million, however, the homes look quite different than those in the most affordable places to live. In California, home prices — and everything else — are more expensive.
10. La Cañada Flintridge, Calif.
Median list price: $1,529,000
La Canada Flintridge is located in the Crescenta Valley of Los Angeles County. Homes here have a median price of $618.96 per square foot. Those in the $1 million range average just more than 1,600 square feet.
For roughly $1.1 million, you can get a 2,084-square-foot townhome within the La Canada Country Club community. The home has two bedrooms and three baths with an open floor plan and hardwood floors. It also boasts scenic mountain views.
9. Cupertino, Calif.
Median list price: $1,675,000
The city of Cupertino is located in Santa Clara County, in the heart of Silicon Valley. Given its close proximity to so many tech millionaires, it’s not surprising that median home prices here are a hefty $1,011.96 per square foot. The most expensive zip code in California is a little north of Cupertino in Atherton, and there’s no way you’re buying a home for $1 million in Atherton.
So what does a little more than $1 million buy? How about a 1,171-square-foot condo near the heart of Cupertino? This home has an open floor plan, granite counters, a walk-in closet in the master bedroom and a double sink in the master bathroom. The home’s condo community comes with great amenities, including a fitness center, pool, spa and recreation lounge with kitchen.
8. Carmel by the Sea, Calif.
Median list price: $1,750,000
With a name like this, you know it must be expensive. This beach city is located on the Monterey Peninsula and offers picturesque cottages. The price for homes here is $534.96 per square foot.
For a little over a million bucks, you can own a cottage just a mile from Carmel Beach. The size isn’t much at just shy of 1,400 square feet. However, that does include two bedrooms and two bathrooms. The rooms are generous in size and feature hardwood floors throughout as well as vaulted ceilings.
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7. Santa Monica, Calif.
Median list price: $1,774,500
Santa Monica is a coastal city west of Los Angeles. Understandably, its location and attractions, including the famous Santa Monica Pier, drive prices higher. The median price per square foot is $994.39.
For roughly $1 million, you can purchase a three-bedroom, two-bath townhouse on Bay Street that’s1,480 square feet. There’s a private rooftop deck that offers mountain and city views for the perfect gathering spot.
6. Los Gatos, Calif.
Median list price: $1,799,000
Los Gatos has one of the most expensive zip codes in the U.S. With the median listing price at about $1.8 million, buyers pay a median price of $821.24 per square foot.
For $1 million you can get a 2,400-square-foot ranch house like this one on Francis Court. It has three bedrooms and two baths and modern upgrades. The home is located just minutes from downtown Los Gatos.
5. Laguna Beach, Calif.
Median list price: $2,100,000
Laguna Beach is located between Los Angeles and San Diego and offers something for beach lovers and art enthusiasts. The median price for a home in this little slice of paradise is $2.1 million. The median price per square foot is $932.95.
Considering the median price of homes in the area, a $1 million residence won’t get you a huge amount of space. For example, this two-bedroom condo on Jasmine Street is just a little over 1,000 square feet. However, it is nicely renovated and conveniently located near the heart of the city.
4. Newport Beach, Calif.
Median list price: $2,299,000
Another California hot spot for beachgoers and boaters is Newport Beach. This Southern California city has a price per square foot of $769.93. With so many California cities on this list, it’s understandable that the state is one of the least affordable for millennials to buy a home.
If you’re picturing a palace for $1 million, you’ll be disappointed. Paying this much will land you a condo on Ima Loa Court with roughly 1,900 square feet. The end-unit condo has three bedrooms and 2.5 baths. It offers updated wood floors and ocean views.
3. Naples, Fla.
Median list price: $2,590,000
The Naples metro area is home to Pelican Bay, known for its private beaches, top-tier golfing and upscale shopping. This small island community is expensive to live in, however, with a median list price of roughly $2.6 million. Buyers can expect to pay around $400 per square foot.
To live in this exclusive community, spending $1 million can get you this second-floor coach home overlooking the Pelican Bay Golf Course. It has three bedrooms and three baths and covers 2,548 square feet. The home comes with superb views of the golf course and a glassed-in lanai.
2. Beverly Hills, Calif.
Median list price: $2,675,000
Beverly Hills is associated with wealth, so it’s not surprising that it’s the second-costliest place to live on our list. The median price per square foot is $862.07. The city is home to many Hollywood stars and others involved in the entertainment industry.
Even $1 million is small change for most who live in Beverly Hills and won’t buy you a mansion. You can, however, own a 1,408-square-foot condo in the Beverly Hills area. It has three bedrooms and three baths and is located a short distance from shops and cafes.
1. Malibu, Calif.
Median list price: $3,445,000
Taking the top spot on our list is Malibu, which is the preferred place of residence for the ultra-wealthy and A-list celebs. This makes it one of the most expensive housing markets in the country. The median home price is nearly $3.5 million, with the median price per square foot of $897.79.
A million-dollar home in Malibu won’t get you a lot of elbow room. For example, this log cabin listing on Decker School Road offers 1,656 square feet of space, three bedrooms and two baths and a detached garage that has been converted to a living space.
Methodology: The median price per square foot is via Redfin’s calculations; the list of 600 largest cities is via the U.S. Census. After sorting the cities by home median list price, the final 10 least expensive and most expensive cities are places are where a home that costs roughly $1 million is actually for sale.
About the Author
With a broadcast news career that spans more than a decade, Lia Sestric has had the opportunity to cover local and national news for television and radio. The Washington, D.C.-based writer has been freelance writing for a number of years. She frequently writes about higher education, careers, and finance. Along with GOBankingRates, her work has appeared on major sites like Yahoo, The Huffington Post, MSN and many other news outlets.