Housing in the Bay Area

When I was a kid, a million dollar house was a mansion.  People in million dollar houses were rich, very rich.  Now, a million dollar house (in the SF Bay Area) is nothing.  It’s a 3 bedroom, 1,700 sq ft house in San Mateo. San Mateo is not a rich neighborhood at all.  Someone owning that house sends their kids to public school and doesn’t have excess money in the bank.   In Palo Alto (more affluence), that same house would be 3+ million dollars.  Insane!

One of the problems is that there just isn’t enough land developed for housing in the Bay Area.  Too many mountains and hills, not enough infrastructure to support new communities.  Without doubt, we need to increase supply.  That will help lower prices based on the same demand.

Another problem is public transportation.  New York City is surrounded by awesome public transit stretching for over a hundred miles.  The Bay doesn’t have the advantage of a single destination like Manhattan, but the public transit could be MUCH better.  The East Bay (Oakland, Berkeley, etc) have terrible commutes.  The highways are jam packed and BART is terrible.  No express trains and comfort level is near zero.

Without more housing and public transportation which would allow us to spread out, I have to believe the price will continue to go up and up.  Considering that I want a short commute, it leaves me very few options.  Luckily, we bought our house before the price got  out of reach.  Otherwise, we would be paying a fortune in rent.

This whole problem is deeply troubling to the Silicon Valley ecosystem.  It could drive people out of the Bay to other cities in the country with engineering talent and more reasonable housing prices.  I am not sure what will happen, but these prices, I feel,  are going to change the culture over time.

How has pricing been in your neck of the woods?

2 Replies to “Housing in the Bay Area”

  1. Million dollar can still buy you a mansion in Bay area, as long as you are ok with driving 35miles one way to work 🙂

  2. You may want to adjust for inflation your historic prices.

    Never the less, I was happy to leave the Bay Area 17 years ago for an environment where things were a bit more structured and uniform. Where not one house maintained a perfect lawn (with lots of fertilizer and water wasted) and the neighbor did grown weeds and had his junk cars on the front lawn. And were things like housing was affordable for most people.

    Also I’d prefer if people would realize that a certain region is not good for growing beyond a certain point and let other regions attract those companies/people that find life too expensive there.

    By the way if you think NY has awesome public transportation (old/loud/rattling/crowded subway, old/loud/rattling/unreliable busses with not schedules at the stops, old/loud/rattling commuter trains, …), then I want to invite you to Berlin or Munique or Vienna for an awesome public transportation system. For example in Berlin you can travel by underground/commuter train 20 miles out from the center to a small village/suburb at 3AM in the morning and the bus there will wait for the train to arrive before it leaves on its tour through the town. And schedules are on every single bus stop and major line crossings have boards with times when the next bus of each line arrives. Not to talk about the trains being quiet, so you can have a whisper conversation while riding and they accelerate smoothly so you can stand w/o holding on to anything.

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