How much is a house in Santa Cruz? A quick Sunday tour of the housing market

By Julie Reynolds Martinez

Yes, we know it’s been called California’s “least affordable city” for a while now. But we decided to take a look for ourselves. Cruising through Santa Cruz open houses on a recent sunny afternoon, the VOMB Squad found quite a range of prices. Were any of them affordable? Well… here are a few stellar examples.

Millionaire’s dream!

Yep, if you want to be near downtown Santa Cruz, $1.2 million will get you a two-bedroom, two-bath, er, bungalow. Okay, it does sit on a (steep) .4-acre lot. But still. Really?

$150,000 — a steal at twice the price. But.

Units such as this one in the De Anza mobile home park on Santa Cruz’s West Side can sell for as low as $150,000. The catch? Monthly space rentals are, oh, around $2500-$4000. More than a decade ago, residents in the glam ocean-front park lost their rent control after the city lost a federal lawsuit against the park’s owners, a company run by billionaire Sam Zell.

$500,000 ain’t bad at all. Wait, it’s an apartment.


Photo | Julie Reynolds Martinez

Just under $500,000 buys you not a house, but an apartment. Two bedrooms, one bath in just over 1,000 square feet. That’s just about the price of the median family-sized house in California. But hey, it’s on Beach Hill, which means it’s walking distance from all the excitement of the Boardwalk. Though that’s not a plus in everyone’s mind. Unless you’re seven years old.

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Julie Reynolds Martínez

About Julie Reynolds Martínez

Julie Reynolds Martínez is a freelance journalist who has reported for the Center for Investigative Reporting, The Nation, NPR, PBS, the NewsGuild and other outlets. She is a co-founder of Voices of Monterey Bay.