REPOST: Grab bag of October outdoor adventure

Are you looking for an adventure before the weather turns and finally feels like fall? This article from the Statesman Journal shares five places and ideas in Oregon that you need to see this month.

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(Photo: Zach Urness / Statesman Journal ) | Image Source: statesmanjournal.com

October might be my favorite month in Oregon.

The leaves are turning, the days are crisp and the weather shifts back and forth between sunshine and much-needed rain.

Best of all is that many trails and rivers that become a crowded circus at the height of summer offer a much mellower scene by mid-October.

Here’s a grab bag of my favorite places, events and ideas for this transitional month.

Mushroom hunting

Few things are more fun during autumn than hunting Oregon’s forest for golden chanterelles, that most delectable of mushrooms.

Not sure how it’s done? Consider these two events and classes to get you up to speed.

The Yachats Village Mushroom Fest is Oct. 17-19. Located in this hamlet on the Central Oregon Coast, the festival features mushroom walks, talks and tastings. There are culinary markets, wine and beer tasting, live music and entertainment.

On Nov. 1, Bureau of Land Management Botanist Ron Exeter is hosting a mushroom identification discussion at BLM’s Alsea Falls Recreation Site from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Participants will learn how to identify many edible mushrooms, including chanterelles, and will be provided suggestions on where to find them.

To find Alsea Falls Recreation Site, head south on Highway 99W from Corvallis for 16 miles. Turn west on Alpine Road (which eventually becomes South Fork Road) a total of 13.5 miles, following signs for Alsea Falls.

Float the North Santiam

For much of the summer, and especially into August and early September, rafting and kayaking the North Santiam River is an exercise in rock dodging due to low water.

Beginning in October, though, dam releases pump up the volume of the river as Detroit Reservoir prepares for the rainy winter season.

The result is a river that goes from boney to juicy in a matter of weeks. Big waves and easier navigating downstream — along with beautiful autumn colors along the river — make this a wonderful time to paddle the two main runs of the North Santiam.

The more challenging run is Packsaddle Park to Mill City, a Class III stretch that requires strong river skills to navigate a trio of Class III+ rapids. (People who raft often head another mile downstream and take out at Fishermen’s Bend Recreation Site.

The less challenging, but still fun, section is Fishermen’s Bend to Mehama Bridge. This run is Class II+, but anyone attempting this section should still have strong whitewater skills. Always wear a life jacket.

Hike South Breitenbush Gorge

This blissful slice of trail follows the South Breitenbush River 3 miles one-way, across a series of funky bridges, through an old-growth forest filled with bright autumn colors and past two dramatic landmarks.

Two highlights include a gorge where the river thunders into a narrow slot and a scenic bridge over mossy, pristine Roaring Creek.

Make sure to follow “gorge” pointers on the trail. To find the gorge, keep an eye out exactly 2.5 miles from the trailhead for two old logs sticking out into the trail. Follow this spur down toward the sound of rushing water for the viewpoint.

The Roaring Creek bridge is the turnaround point for a 6-mile out-and-back hike.

Open: March to late November (or whenever snow starts in lower elevations)

Directions: From Detroit, turn left onto Breitenbush River Road 46 for 11 miles. Just past the mile marker 11, turn right onto a road that is marked by a stop sign and labeled Road 4600-050. Continue down this gravel road less than half a mile to a pullout on the left, just before a green gate. The trail begins just to the left of the green gate with signs marked “gorge trail.”

Float the Rogue River

Southern Oregon’s Rogue River features one of the best multi-day river trips in the world.

Problem is, during the height of summer you need a $10 float permit that can be difficult to obtain.

By Oct. 16, however, you no longer need a permit to paddle 34 miles of spectacular canyon scenery from Grave Creek (near Grants Pass) to Foster Bar (near Gold Beach). The ability to navigate Class III and IV rapids is essential, along with being able to set up leave no trace camps that keep this river wild and scenic.

For more information, contact the BLM offices in Southern Oregon at (541) 479-3735.

Hike Silver Falls / Shellburg Falls

It always depends on the conditions, of course, but late October is often the most scenic time to visit Silver Falls State Park and Shellburg Falls.

The trees turn a spectacular gold and the rain normally ensures these waterfalls are booming.

Any number of hiking trips makes sense — there is no shortage of options — for both easy family-friendly hikes.

At Silver Falls, the Canyon Trail showcases 10 waterfalls that can be enjoyed on either short or long hikes. Pick up at map at the entry booth and choose your own adventure.

Shellburg Falls a bit quieter. An easy hike of 2.6 miles round-trip brings you face to face with the main attraction, Shellburg Falls thundering through a gold forest. Follow an old gated road 1.3 miles to a bridge over Shellburg Creek and turn left. Hike a quarter-mile through increasingly dense forest to Shellburg Falls and a trail winds behind the curtain of dropping water. The trail continues onto Vine Maple Trail and August Mountain Trail.

Directions to Shellburg Falls Trail: From Salem, head east on North Santiam Highway 22. After 22.4 miles, turn left immediately before Mehama’s flashing yellow light, opposite the Gingerbread House. Follow paved Fern Ridge Road for 1.2 miles to a small gravel parking lot on the right.

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REPOST: 4 Travel Hacks for the Budget-Minded

Traveling can be expensive but this Fox Business article enumerates four ways to stick to a tight travel budget.

Image Source:

Image Source: foxbusiness.com

Exploring the world can easily add up to some big bills, but it is also possible to catch all the sights and learn all about local culture on a tight budget. Whether you work along the way or are just trying to vacation on the cheap, you can have a great experience without breaking the bank. Certain destinations cost less than others, but you can make any trip affordable by following some money-saving tips. 1. Do Your Research There are probably several places around the world you want to travel to. Depending on the flexibility of your schedule, research the options before you pick your spot. In doing so, you may find cheap or free options at your destination. While you don’t need to schedule every hour of your trip, get an idea of what is happening at your destination during your stay – there could be a festival or special exhibit that you don’t want to miss. Also, it’s important to stay educated on common travel scams like ATM skimming or conversion charges so you can recognize and avoid them. 2. Go Off-Season Since many spots are interesting any time of year, try to schedule your trip during the less busy time for travel. You will get cheaper airfare, find deals on hotel rooms, spend less time in lines and meet more locals than tourists. This, of course, will depend on your destination. When contacting potential places to stay or visit, ask if they have off-season rates and during what time of the year. You can experience all of the same attractions and revelries without spending a fortune just based on timing. 3. Call Before You Book Flights will likely be the most expensive aspect of your travels. While you search for options, even if your trip is in the preliminary stages, it is smart to open an incognito tab on your browser and check discount sites like Kayak, Momondo, Sky Scanner, and even Google Flights. Track flight costs ahead of time and cross-check your sources, but Tuesday is the time of week you will likely find the cheapest option. Similarly, you can find deals on accommodations online through Kayak or Hotwire. Once you have found the cheapest provider, try calling the hotel or airline to be sure this is the best price and that it includes all the normal amenities. Whether you ask outright, explain the trip is for a special event, or mention an airline or hotel nearby offering a better deal — you may be able to get a better price just by taking the time to call. 4. Live Like a Local We all know that touristy activities and spots have higher prices. Living like a local can help give you new perspective on your destination while cutting back on costs. Consider renting an apartment or living with a family in their home through sites like AirBnB to get an authentic experience for a lower rate than most hotels. Even if it may seem daunting to learn a public transportation system in a new city, it is usually not too difficult and much more affordable than taxis. Be sure you tip according to the custom of the destination, not how you do at home. And one thing a local would never do? Spend money on silly souvenirs, so be sure to buy only the things you need. Usually the memories you make are the best thing you bring back home anyway. There are plenty of people who will tell you they live under X amount of dollars per day while traveling. While it is possible to explore on the cheap, it’s a good idea to focus on value over cost – this way you get the most out of your experience. Decide what you or your group’s priorities are and allocate some splurging in your budget for whatever you find the most important, from a highly rated restaurant to a special show or craft you would not get to see at home. By saving money on flights, accommodations and transportation, you can use the money you save to absorb all the cultural aspects available at your destination. Plan ahead, but be sure to have some extra funds for the spontaneous adventures that may pop up along your journey. Finally, spending more than you can afford on travels can eventually catch up with you. If you find yourself going into debt to see the world — debt that you can’t pay off in a relatively short period of time — it’s time to reconsider your budget. Carrying too much credit card debt can have a negative affect on your credit scores, especially if it’s a high percentage of your available credit. If you’re carrying credit card debt and you want to know how it’s affecting your credit scores, the free tools on Credit.com can show you — by giving you an overview of how all factors of your credit report are affecting your scores, along with two free scores updated every month.

Pete Scamardo is always looking for ways to make the best of his travels even on a budget. Discover more travel hacks by following his blog.

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REPOST: 6 Places to Find End-of-Summer Travel Deals

Susan Johnston of US News shares these six destinations where you can make your last-minute vacations before summer officially ends.

Image Source: usnews.com

Image Source: usnews.com

As kids head back to school in August or September, budget-conscious travelers have the chance to capitalize on the lingering warm weather, smaller crowds and lower prices on hotels and airfare. From mid-August to September, travel prices start to drop in some destinations, since they’re no longer flooded with tourists and families vacationing with kids, says Cynthia Drake, author of the forthcoming book “Budget Travel for the Genius.” “If you can wait until after Labor Day, you’re going to see better prices,” she says.

Those with flexible vacation time may be able to seize that opportunity, but for families with school-aged kids, it may mean taking a quick weekend getaway instead of a full-week vacation.

Here are six places to look for end-of-summer travel deals.

1. Las Vegas. Recently named TripAdvisor’s most affordable summer city, Vegas will still be warm and sunny in August and September, but Drake says you’ll find fewer crowds. Plus, nearly every casino, hotel and restaurant has air conditioning, so the heat shouldn’t deter travel. MegaBus runs a budget-friendly bus route between Las Vegas and Riverside or Los Angeles, California, so if you live near a MegaBus stop, you could save on gas and parking by riding the bus, Drake adds. The only potential downside of visiting Vegas? Losing your hotel and airfare savings in a casino.

2. Arizona. Some travelers might avoid desert destinations such as Phoenix and Las Vegas in the summer, but Drake says that’s a mistake. “You’re going to have so many nice amenities, beautiful sparkling pools and beautiful restaurants to eat in,” she says. Scottsdale, Arizona, for example, offers cosmopolitan accommodations with beautiful nearby hiking trails.

3. South Florida. Snowbirds flock to south Florida in the winter months, but according to Kristy Hall, a family travel agent with The Tropical Travelers, “late summer in southern Florida is a great value as long as you avoid [Labor Day] weekend.” Since downtown hotels tend to fill up quickly, Hall sometimes steers her clients toward a large, convention-style property – provided there aren’t any conventions that weekend – with pools and other amenities.

4. Asheville, North Carolina. To save on airfare, Hall suggests choosing a destination within driving distance. For many people along the East Coast, Asheville, North Carolina, offers proximity, scenic mountains and attractions like the Biltmore mansion, she says. If you’re a camper, you could also find a campsite within a few hours of home.

5. Caribbean. “Everyone wants to go to the Caribbean in the wintertime, but summertime is when you get the deals,” says John DiScala, veteran traveler and founder of travel website JohnnyJet.com. He suggests visiting one of the ABC islands: Aruba, Bonaire or Curaçao. September is the height of hurricane season for parts of the Caribbean, but DiScala and Drake say that shouldn’t be a big deterrent. “You can purchase trip insurance if you’re concerned about hurricanes,” says Drake, adding that she’s traveled to the Caribbean during that time without issues. “If you’re taking that route, get the kind of insurance that lets you cancel for any reason.” If you’re on a cruise, the cruise company may simply reroute you to a different port to avoid weather issues, Drake adds.

6. Europe. Summer is a popular time to visit Europe, but DiScala says there will be cheaper prices after mid-September. “If you can wait, not only will you get a better deal,” he says, “but you’ll also have a chance of having a seat next to you open on the plane and less crowded museums. It won’t be full of tourists.” Since airfare to Europe can be pricey at any time of the year, DiScala suggests being flexible about your travel dates if possible. “Tuesdays and Wednesdays and sometimes Saturdays are a lot cheaper to fly outgoing and return,” he says. “Price that out and see if that makes a huge difference. It might be worth taking extra vacation days.” Also look into alternate airports. Travelers in Chicago might default to O’Hare Airport, but DiScala suggests they also price out tickets from Midway. DiScala’s other website, alternateairports.com, lists driving distances from all U.S. airports so travelers can compare their options.

Get the latest on travel deals and hottest destinations by following this Pete Scamardo Twitter account.

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REPOST: The Habit Burger – America’s Favorite Fast-Food Chain

According to a recent survey, America’s favorite burger comes from a fast food chain that you haven’t  probably heard of. Find out in this BidnessEtc.com article

 

Number 1: The Habit Burger Grill’s Charburger is the nation’s favorite according to a recent survey published in July | Image Source: dailymail.co.uk

 

If you are thinking that Americans love Burger King Worldwide Inc.’s (BKW) and McDonald’s Corporation’s (MCD) burgers more than any other burger out there, then you are heavily mistaken. Consumer reports have revealed that America’s favorite burger comes from a fast food chain that many would not have even heard of – The Habit Burger Grill.

Based in California and founded in 1969 in Santa Barbara, Habit has locations all over California but little presence outside. However, it is looking to expand to the East Coast and will be opening its New Jersey restaurant soon.

The survey that rated the Habit Burger as the most popular fast-food restaurant included 65 other chains – some as famous as In-N-Out Burger, Freddy’s Steakburgers, and McDonald’s. The survey posed the same question for different food categories like Chicken, Burritos, Sandwiches and Burgers: “On a scale of 1 to 10, from least delicious to most delicious you’ve ever eaten, how would you rate the taste?” The burger category included around 53,745 answers and Habit’s cheeseburgers comfortably scored above eight on the scale while other small names such as Smashburger, Burgerville, Steak ‘n Shake remained between the band of 7-8. The biggest disappointments were the ratings of Wendy’s, Burger King, and McDonald’s who scored 6.8, 6.6 and 5.8 respectively.

There are several reasons for Habit’s popularity. It has rapidly evolved and expanded into a modern-day brand since 2007, when the then 23-unit based chain was acquired by KarpReilly LLC, a private-equity firm. It has recently signed its two franchise agreements to introduce the brand to Las Vegas and Seattle markets, and plans to move to the Northern Virginia region next year. Habit Burger’s Vice President of franchising has described its endeavors in these words:

“We’re very bullish because of where we play in the better-burger segment; we have a diversified menu and a value play and value just doesn’t go out of style.”

He also explained how, over the years, the fast food franchise has sustained an average of $7.7 per person ticket, which matches other similar quick-service burgers. Moreover, the diverse menu includes everything from grilled tuna and pastrami sandwiches, to salads and desserts; this enables it to position itself in the market of fast-casual restaurants.

Furthermore, the brand has managed to keep up its sales growth (35% over the last year) in a market where Burger chains have registered an overall growth of only 1.2%. While the total sales for the Burger chains in the US amount to $72million, Habit Burger recorded sales worth $120 million.

The survey reports clearly show a change in consumer preference when it comes to fast-foods, especially burgers. Who would have guessed that 21 other burgers would be rated as more palatable than McDonald’s famous Big Mac. Let’s hope The Habit Burger maintains its standing in the coming future and offers a challenge to chains like Burger King, and McDonald’s who would then be expected to produce something phenomenal and out-of-the-box. Nevertheless, it’s a win-win situation for the American customers who can expect mouth-watering burgers to reach their plates every time they visit a nearby fast-food chain.

More articles about the famous dining places across United States can be found by visiting this blog site

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REPOST: Five hidden US travel destinations

If you think you’ve been everywhere in the United States, well, think again. Kate Dailey from BBC.com reveals 5 hidden US travel destinations.

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US President Barack Obama rattled off a list of iconic US tourist destinations as he launched a campaign to attract more international visitors. But what about the places that could be world-renowned – but aren’t?

“When it comes to tourism, we have a great product to sell,” said the president, while visiting the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, last month.

“Nothing says `Made in America’ better than the Empire State Building or the Hoover Dam.”

It was part of a pitch for foreign visitors to spend their money on American travel.

But these places are old hat. Five travel experts give their view on the places that aren’t on the international tourist map, but should be.

Harrodsburg, Kentucky

Image Source: bbc.com

Image Source: bbc.com

Though founded in England, the Shaker faith left an indelible mark on American culture – from Aaron Copland orchestral suites to anenduring design aesthetic. Known for their simple lifestyle but doomed by their aversion to procreation, the Shakers peaked in the 19th century.

In Harrodsburg, Kentucky, however it is still possible to experience “a retreat into a slower, more reflective way of life”, says Patricia Schultz, author of 1,000 Things to See Before You Die. There you’ll find the Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, “one of the few restored Shaker communities where you can stay overnight”, she says.

The Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill provides a glimpse into this part of American history, as well as a lot of lovely scenery – rolling hills, horse farms, stone fences and 3,000 acres (1,214 Ha) of beautiful countryside.

Mesa Verde, Colorado

Image Source: bbc.com

Image Source: bbc.com

Colorado has no shortage of natural beauty, from the snow-capped Rockies to its 24 million acres of forests. But in the south-western corner of Colorado, natural beauty, man-made innovation and a unique American history combine at Mesa Verde National Park.

“Thousands of years ago, housing for Native Americans was carved into the side of the mountains,” says Kim Mance, editor of GoGalivanting.com. The ancient Pueblos began carving dwellings in the 12th Century, and 200 years later they had established an entire city in the sandstone, including a palace with 150 rooms.

Now tourists can wander through the dwellings on guided tours, or hike, camp or snowshoe through the park. “It’s magical,” says Mance.

The area is rich with parks, ruins and other destinations: Mesa Verde is also just a short trip away from the Four Corners, where the borders of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah converge. Mace also singles out the nearby town of Durango, Colorado, which boasts a mix of modern restaurants and shopping as well as historic attractions like dude ranches and an 1880s-era steam-powered train.

The Finger Lakes, New York

Image Source: bbc.com

Image Source: bbc.com

Though Sonoma County and Napa Valley in California are world-renowned destinations for wine lovers, New York’s Finger Lakes region is a must-visit for any oenophile.

“It’s an area of gorgeous waterfall filled-hikes, a burgeoning local culinary scene and more than 100 wineries set among two-lane roads, rolling hills and seasonal roadside stands,” says Allison Busacca, the editor of BBC Travel.

Busacca says the crowds don’t flock to the Finger Lakes the way they do to California wine country. It’s also an easy side trip for those hitting the big sites in New York City – it’s just four hours north, making it a perfect complement for foreign visitors looking to see a lot of America during a quick trip.

The wine, especially Rieslings and reds, are consistently award-winning, but the prices are low.

“Tasting fees are rarely more than $5, winery owners are easy to find in the tasting room, and hotels and restaurants in the region are often half the price – if not more – than comparable properties and meals in New York City.”

Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

Image Source: bbc.com

Image Source: bbc.com

The entire city of Chicago should be a top destination for anyone visiting the States, says Lonely Planet travel guide writer Karla Zimmerman. She says that the Windy City has restaurants, shows, shopping and culture to match any other US city.

“I’m always surprised when I talk to people who are well travelled, but have never been to Chicago,” she says. “They’ve heard Chicago is cool but never thought it was worth going out of the way for. It’s fly-over territory.”

Chicago may be more appealing to the foreign traveller now for its association with President Obama, who calls the Hyde Park neighbourhood his home.

Within that neighbourhood is Jackson Park, site of the 1893 World’s Fair, which introduced both the Ferris Wheel and moving pictures to the world.

The expo’s Palace of Fine Arts is now the city’s Museum of Science and Industry, a gorgeous Beaux-Arts building right on Lake Michigan that is now the largest science museum in the Western Hemisphere.

Valley of Fire, Nevada

Image Source: bbc.com

Image Source: bbc.com

In 2013, 40 million people visited Las Vegas. But for the international traveller feeling overwhelmed by all the glitz and gaudiness of the Strip, serenity is just thirty miles north.

“It looks like another planet,” says Andy Murdock, managing editor at AirBnB. In fact, scenes from several movies have been shot at Valley of Fire, Nevada’s largest state park.

Here, the sparkle is provided by hundreds of thousands of stars, not neon on the Vegas strip, and the skyline is dominated by swirling red sandstone formations instead of giant casinos.

Murdock notes that car rentals in Sin City are usually inexpensive, and a trip to the park can provide a much-needed palate cleanser.

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Five must-visit US destinations for 2014

Sometimes the best destinations for travel are actually nearer to people than they think. Many often think of going overseas when planning their dream vacation that they tend to forget that their own country has a lot of wonderful offerings they haven’t even seen yet. There is nothing wrong with dreaming of a getaway at an unfamiliar place. However, it is also a good idea to consider places closer to home every once in a while.

With this in mind, here are a few suggestions from Lonely Planet for good places to visit in the US in 2014:

Image Source: cbslocal.com

1. Michigan. Grand Rapids, the state’s second-largest city, has great things for beer enthusiasts and art aficionados. It has been voted as the best beer city in the US by the national Beer Examiner blog in 2012 and 2013, its arts scene is thriving, and it has Lake Michigan’s Gold Coast, which is one of the most unexpected beach getaways in the US.

2. California. Central California Coast offers a good option for those looking for a good road trip. It has laid-back beach towns, an iconic and sea-hugging Hwy 1, pleasant weather, hardly any people in sight, and cliff-top lookouts, among other wonderful features.

Image Source: cbslocal.com

3. Georgia. This state has one of the most underdeveloped places in the nation, and Cumberland Island is an unspoiled paradise. It remains as a great destination for people who like to camp out and enjoy virgin beaches, windswept dunes, and beautiful sunrises.

4. Hawaii. Lana’i is also a great destination for people who love adventure. The smallest of the visitable Hawaiian Islands, this island is great for its empty beaches, snorkeling and diving spots, and rugged hiking trails.

5. Missouri. Kansas City offers a great experience for laid-back vacationers who just want to enjoy good food, good music, and a relaxing time in a beautiful place.

Image Source: travelandleisure.com


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REPOST: America’s Most Overpriced Cities

This Forbes.com article shares the most expensive cities in America.

 

Introduction

Image Source: forbes.com

 

Mention Hawaii, and most Americans will think of clear blue water and sandy beaches, flower leis, Hawaiian shirts and fruity drinks. People who actually live there may have a more jaundiced perspective.

The median sales price for a single-family home in Honolulu was $430,000 in the fourth quarter of 2013, according to the National Association of Homebuilders. While that’s not the highest in the nation, it still puts the majority of homes on the market financially beyond the reach of families bringing home the median household income in the Honolulu metro area, $86,300. That doesn’t look likely to change. Because developable land is limited, the pace of new residential construction—some 3,000 per units in the entire state per year–is only about half of what the population needs to match its growth rate, says Eugene Tian, chief economist for the research arm of the state’s Dept. of Business, Economics and Tourism.

Lots of places have high housing costs, but add in the outrageous cost of daily necessities in Hawaii and it makes the beautiful island look like a less-than-idyllic place to live. Groceries in Honolulu cost 55.6% more than the national average; utilities 67.9% more, according to Sperling’s BestPlaces. “Eighty percent of our food is imported from the mainland,” notes Tian. “Oil is 100% imported. And we are the most oil-dependent state in the U.S., with 87% of our energy depending on oil.”

Add to that the fact that the island is 2,400 miles away from the next land mass, and just try to get a supplier to deliver goods cheaply. The result is few suppliers and monopolies at every level: there’s only one Toyota dealer in Honolulu, and Chevron CVX -1.02% is the big gorilla oil company (in 1998, the state of Hawaii sued the oil companies for price fixing; oil prevailed noting that federal law outlaws monopolies, not oligopolies.) Local LOCM +0.01% business owners (and home builders) pass on the high import costs, and residents pay through the nose for everything from milk to gasoline. For all these reasons, Honolulu tops our list of America’s Most Overpriced Cities, tying with New York for the No. 1 spot.

Behind the numbers

To find the Most Overpriced cities, we started with America’s 100 largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) and Metropolitan Divisions (MDs), all with populations of 600,000 or more. MSAs and MDs are cities and their surrounding suburbs as defined by the Office of Management and Budget.

First we looked at housing affordability, using the Housing Opportunity Index (HOI) from the National Association of Home Builders and Wells Fargo WFC +0.79%. The quarterly index weighs median prices for homes sold against median income levels to determine the percentage of homes that are affordable to residents making the median income. Due to a lack of sufficient data, Baton Rouge and New Orleans, La., as well as Columbia, S.C.; Gary and Indianapolis, Ind.; Kansas City, Mo.; Little Rock, Ark.; Nashville, Tenn.; and Omaha, Neb. had to be excluded from our results.

Next we considered the cost-of-living index developed by Sperling’s Best Places, factoring in the cost of food, utilities, gas, transportation, medical expenses, and a host of other daily expenses for each area. Cities with a cost-of-living rank above 100 have higher prices for these day-to-day goods than the national average.

Finally, we weighted these factors, in line with the methodology the Bureau of Labor Statistics uses for the weightings of its Consumer Price Index (where housing is weighted just under 32%). Because housing is such an important expense to most people, we tipped the scales a bit higher.

Who says a place is overpriced?
Not surprisingly, California has the greatest number of overpriced cities on our list (nine), with San Jose the highest-ranking Golden State metro area (No. 4). In the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara MSA, according to NAHB figures, only 26% of homes are affordable to families bringing home the median income of $101,300. (The median home sales price was $625,000 in Q4 2013.) “In areas in California where salaries are high, demand is high, and building activity is restricted, prices are high,” says Cynthia Kroll, chief economist for the Bay Area Association of Governments.

Housing affordability is even worse in San Jose’s northern neighbor, San Francisco, where the median family making $101,200 can afford only 14.1% of local homes (median sales price for Q14 2013: $800,000) according to NAHB data. In fact, that ranks San Francisco dead last in terms of housing affordability among the cities we evaluated for this list. The only reason San Francisco comes out less overpriced than Silicon Valley is that greater San Jose’s lower home prices were offset with higher costs for daily expenses. Groceries are 20% above the national average (compared to SF’s 16.2%), utilities 24.2% (compared to 7.6% lower than the national average in San Francisco); Silicon Valley also has a slight advantages in transportation and health care costs. But we’ll admit that the difference in our scores for these places is fairly minimal.

New York City, not surprisingly, ties with Honolulu for first place and Boston (No. 3) and Cambridge. (No. 8), as well as Peabody, Mass. (No. 7; the Metropolitan Division refers to greater Essex County) make an appearance. But neither Massachusetts nor New York State come close to placing as many cities on our list as California, which may come down to the nonquantifiable factors that draw people to California (and for that matter, Hawaii) in the first place. “Why is land very expensive on the California coast?” asks Stuart Gabriel, director of the Richard S. Ziman Center for Real Estate at UCLA. “Well, because we have awesome weather—we have certain amenities on the California Coast that don’t exist in Des Moines, Iowa.”

And New York has cultural offerings, Boston has universities. So while we call it overpriced–maybe some people would just say “expensive.”

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