New Residential Real Estate Measurement: Citiness Index By Zillow and Yelp

Houses in Suburbs

It appears that we not have a brand new residential real estate measurement: Citiness Index gifted to us by Zillow and Yelp. But what is it?

Let’s be honest, most of us want to live in big-city-like places but without the high costs and crowds, especially in 2020. Zillow and Yelp have partnered up to deliver the best of both worlds: big-city feel with a small-town housing prices. Together they have created a new measurement for this new way of living called Citiness Index!

What Is Citiness Index?

Simply put it’s a measurement of suburbs of the major metropolises (as defined by Census) that offers the big-city feel when it comes to restaurants, night life, and arts – let’s call them “things to do” and the cozy, comfortable and potentially safe feeling one gets residing in a small town, where you can have a back yard which you can afford.

With the continuation of the Pandemic of the 2020’s most of us want to get out of cities to reduce the risk of exposure and the risk of being locked down yet again in the small shoe box we once called our home. Having a back yard, a home office, perhaps a garage or a home gym is incredibly appealing these days. But we still want to go outside and enjoy the amenities that large cities offer, minus the giant crowds. So, the mass exodus from large cities began in the summer of 2020 with people heading to suburbs.

Housing Affordability

With the change in where we’d like to live, supported by the option that many have nowadays of working from home, millions of people went on a house shopping spree. The effects? Well the home prices started to rise (in the middle of the pandemic and arguably the worst economic era in centuries). This started to make affordability much harder to come by as the median house in the U.S. is now around $350,000, but compared to big cities this is still “cheap”.

Considering that a 2-bedroom condo in San Francisco high-rise is currently selling at $1.1 million and has a monthly HOA dues of $950 then a 2-bedroom house with a back yard (and privacy) priced at $300,000 in a suburb is cheap!

In evaluating the best places to live, Zillow considered house affordability (as compared to the local big city and the national average) in order to evaluate whether it is affordable. And, in the light of the major land-rush of 2020, they also looked at the availability of the homes to buy and rent.

Their partner Yelp looked at the diversity and availability of businesses and the consumer activity to add spice to the new index and we now have a new residential real estate measurement list of Top 10 Affordable Citiness places to call home.

In looking at the full report, it is nice to see that there appear to be areas where one can find a home in low $100,000 range. However, I am personally a bit disappointed that some of the areas listed have higher home prices than their neighboring cities, for example Marietta, GA.

Top 10 Citiness To Call Home

And here they are, the top ten places as ranked by Zillow and Yelp

  1. Waterbury, CT
  2. Lowell, MA
  3. Joliet, IL
  4. Sunrise, FL
  5. Pasadena, TX
  6. Lancaster, CA
  7. Hampton, VA
  8. Marietta, GA
  9. Norman, OK
  10. Tempe, AZ

For more information as to the median prices in these areas as well as the methodology, you can read a detailed repot here.