Market Madness 2015: Great Eight

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It’s that mascot dancing, net cutting, underdog loving time of year again. As universities from across the nation get themselves ready for Selection Sunday, we’re celebrating the spirit of the season here at with a little competition of our own. Here are the results of the Great 8 as featured on

Eight cities left. We’re getting down to the wire, and now it’s time to bring in one of the more important factors in choosing a housing market to buy into: cost of living. Using CNN Money’s cost of living comparison tool, we stacked each market up to see how far a dollar goes in each. Using this, we compared median salary to adjust for real income from city to city and selected a winner. Let’s get into it!

bracket (5)

Dallas (3) over Portland (8) Portland has long been known as an affordable city by most standards. Over the course of the past decade or so, an influx of people and growth in various creative industries have pushed housing prices and overall cost of living up exponentially, as is shown in data listing it as the most gentrified city in the US. Dallas is a city known for old oil money foremost, as famously illustrated in soap opera TV series, Dallas. From a housing standpoint though, Dallas is like many other Texas cities in that it is quite affordable. Dallas features low taxes as well. Comparing the two, a dollar earned in Dallas is the equivalent of approximately seventy-six cents in Portland. Win: Dallas.

Pittsburgh (15) over San Francisco (4) The cost of living in the Bay Area went absolutely through the roof over the course of the past five to ten years. Featuring the highest median apartment rental price in any major city, making ends meet in San Francisco is near impossible for many lower- and lower-middle class working folks. And there are no signs that costs will dip. Pittsburgh, by comparison, remains a budget friendly option for homebuyers, where you can get a place for a quarter what it costs in SF. Even higher median wages in SF can’t keep up with the lower cost of living in Pittsburgh.

Denver (7) over Chicago (1) The Windy City has long been the crossroads of American commerce in the west: a hub of industrial production since the nineteenth century, it’s at the center of the railway system. Denver, by comparison, was known as a sleepy small city isolated in the Rockies until recently, when a boom in tech startups turned it into one of the fastest growing and highest appreciating housing markets in the nation. What happens when old and new clash? When considering cost of living, Denver eked out a victory over denser and more populated Chicago: very similar yearly salaries and cost of living, with a median income dollar in Chi going for a dollar twenty in Denver.

Houston (1) over San Antonio (2) Another battle of Texan powerhouse cities! While everything is allegedly bigger in Texas, there’s one thing you don’t want to be oversized: your cost of living. Houston and San Antonio stack up very similarly across metrics: salary, walk score, safety, health outcomes. They are very similar cost of living wise as well. In the end though, your $57,712 median salary nets you $53,672 in San Antonio, making Houston the clear winner.