There's no place like home. This is especially true when the holidays are over and all your relatives have departed. The idea of what makes a good home is an interesting topic. 


First of all, consider the size of homes. “Over the last century, home sizes in the U.S. have skyrocketed. In 1949, the typical single-family home was just 909 square feet. By 2021, it had shot up to 2,480 square feet.” 


So, how big is big? “Utah is the U.S. state with the largest median home size at 2,800 square feet. Hawaii has the smallest median home size of any state at 1,164 square feet.” However, Hawaii's homes are the most expensive at $743.86 per square foot.


Here in Michigan, we're pretty modest. “Michigan ranks number forty-five on the size chart, with an average home being 1,726 square feet. That calculates to $178.55 per square foot.” (https://www.visualcapitalist.com/cp/median-home-size-every-american-state-2022/)


The next thing to consider about homes is their affordability. RealtyHop.com produces home affordability statistics every month. “Considering a thirty-year fixed-rate mortgage with a 5.5 percent interest rate, median list price, and average household income, homeowners in seventy-five cities across the country spend more than thirty percent of their income on the cost of owning a home. Many potential home buyers continue to wonder whether they’ll ever be able to purchase a home.”


The five most affordable housing markets are: Wichita (KS), Fort Wayne (IN), Detroit (MI), Cleveland(OH), and Lubbock (TX). “Detroit continues to rank as the third most affordable U.S. housing market.  A family who earns an average salary of $34,932 only needs to allocate 19.03 percent of their income towards home ownership costs on a 30-year conventional mortgage.”


The five least affordable housing markets are: Miami (FL), Los Angeles, (CA), New York (NY), Newark (NJ), and Hialeah (FL). (https://www.realtyhop.com/blog/realtyhop-housing-affordability-index-december-2022/)


Well, once you do own a home the next step is to decorate it in your own style. In that regard, an article in BuzzFeed could be a good reference: “Twenty Millennial Home Trends That We'll All Be Cringing At In Twenty Years.” The list includes: “Fifty thousand shades of gray throughout a space, excessive throw pillows, subway tile and white kitchens, live edge wood everything, farmhouse sinks, and not having carpeted floors." See the entire compendium at: https://www.buzzfeed.com/tessafahey/millennial-home-design.


According to WalletHub, deciding on a place to call home can be a tough process. “You’ll need to balance things like the cost of living with job opportunities, quality of education and safety. Personal preference also comes into the equation, as you’ll want to live somewhere with the types of attractions, recreational opportunities and weather that suit you. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks. WalletHub compared the fifty states based on fifty-two key indicators of livability.”


Michigan was number thirty overall, but number fourteen for affordability and number fifteen for quality of life. Massachusetts snagged the top overall spot, while Mississippi was at the bottom of the barrel. See all the rankings at: https://wallethub.com/edu/best-states-to-live-in/62617.


Selecting a locale in which to settle down can get more complicated than it might seem on the surface. Sometimes little things enhance or degrade the livability. For example, what's the shopping experience like? 


Parking comes into play here. If it costs an arm and a leg to park, why shop at all? “Cleveland is the cheapest city in the country for parking, according to a new ranking from the driver’s education site Zutobi.com. The report finds that the third-largest city in Ohio has the least expensive rate for three hours of parking, at just $1.50.  Dallas and Indianapolis tied as the second-cheapest city. It only costs drivers $2 to park their vehicles in either city for three hours.  Meanwhile, New York City is the most expensive place to park. The study found that the minimum a driver can expect to pay to park a vehicle in the Big Apple is $21.” 



Not to be indelicate, but if you shop for any length of time it's a probability you may want to use a restroom. According to a report on TheHustle.co, public toilets in big cities are becoming more scarce. 


Why is this the case? “An ideological shift may be to blame. In the early twentieth century, many politicians considered providing bathrooms a civic duty. That idea disappeared by the end of the century. Instead, politicians began to refer to public bathrooms as dirty, dangerous places. It feeds into this notion of, public bathrooms are never nice and we shouldn’t put money towards them.” 


That's not all. “There’s another reason for the dearth of public restrooms in cities: They’re expensive to build. Most public bathrooms cost between $80k and $500k.” Plus, added to the cost of building a public bathroom is the upkeep. “The city of Sacramento (CA) recently pegged annual maintenance fees for a planned public bathroom at $341,000. In San Francisco, that number is closer to $600,000.” 


As a result, the number of public bathrooms per capita has diminished.  In Detroit, for example, there is one public bathroom for every 14,700 residents. In San Francisco it's 22,600 to one. (https://thehustle.co/the-fight-to-build-more-public-bathrooms-in-america)


In spite of everything, home ownership is usually a good investment. This is particularly true for one investor who cashed in on a recent sale. He sold a mansion, formerly owned by Madonna, for $29 million. (https://allaboutcats.com/the-ultimate-pet-rich-list/)


The unique aspect of this sale is that the investor/seller is the world’s richest pet, a German shepherd known as Gunther VI. 'His inherited  wealth and real estate investments have rocketed Gunther’s fortune to $500 million.' My guess is that when someone tosses a tennis ball Gunther hires other dogs to fetch it. 


Jim Neff is a local columnist. Read Neff Zone columns online at CadillacNews.com and NeffZone.com/cadillacnews

THE BEST STATES TO LIVE IN -- Click on a state to see the ranking.

Source: WalletHub