The Price of a Sunny Day: Top 5 Bargain Cities for Sunshine

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February 4, 2012 at 2:09 pm  •  Posted in Geography, Pueblo, Real Estate by  •  10 Comments

I recently learned that my hometown, Pueblo, Colorado, receives more sunshine than San Diego, California.  I was really surprised and began to wonder who pays the most and who pays the least for sunshine in America?  So I decided to take a look and see what I could find out.

This simple analysis assumes that all you care about is getting the most sunshine at the lowest price of housing (owning rather than renting) in the US.  According to my calculations, the best deal can be found in Abilene, Texas at $252.45 per day of annual sunshine and the worst deal would be San Francisco, California at $2,720.22 per day.

You can find the whole list at the bottom of this post or click here to see a map.  Here are the top 5 for each of the four census regions in the US:

Midwest

  1. Sioux City, Iowa
  2. Wichita, Kansas
  3. Topeka, Kansas
  4. Fort Wayne, Indiana
  5. Evansville, Indiana

Northeast

  1. Albany, New York
  2. Binghamton, New York
  3. Buffalo, New York
  4. Syracuse, New York
  5. Rochester, New York

South

  1. Abilene, Texas
  2. El Paso, Texas
  3. Brownsville, Texas
  4. Midland-Odessa, Texas
  5. Lake Charles, Louisiana

West

  1. Yuma, Arizona
  2. Pocatello, Idaho
  3. Pueblo, Colorado
  4. Great Falls, Montana
  5. Albuquerque, New Mexico

I started by taking the percent sunshine figures from the National Climate Data Center (NCDC).  For each of the cities in this list I found the median value of housing for the corresponding CBSAs from the US Census Bureau.  Then I simply divided the median housing value ($) by the product of 365 days and the NCDC percent of sunshine.  So, to calculate the price of a day’s worth of annual sunshine in New York City you do the following:

  • NYC median housing value = $419,200
  • % annual sunshine in NYC = 58%
  • Days in the year = 365
  • Price of a sunny day in NYC = $419,200 ÷ (365*0.58) = $1,980.16

I know, I know.  This fails to account for taxes and other expenses.  This formula only includes 2 digits of decimal accuracy and forgets to account for leap year.  It doesn’t include all CBSAs, it includes some cities with not very many years worth of data.  There are hundreds of other ways this could be done that might be better.  Blah blah blah.  I don’t have time to write a thesis.  But I think this rough cut still reveals some interesting patterns.

On a separate page I’ve listed the Top 25 Sunniest Places ranked by housing cost.  Here is the whole ranked list (or download CSV: PriceSunnyDay) along with % Sunshine, Median home value, $ per Sunny Day.

Rank Location % Sunshine Median Home $ Per Sunny Day
1 ABILENE, TX 70% $64,500 $252.45
2 EL PASO, TX 84% $78,600 $256.36
3 BROWNSVILLE, TX 60% $62,100 $283.56
4 MIDLAND-ODESSA, TX 74% $85,200 $315.44
5 LAKE CHARLES, LA 72% $84,200 $320.40
6 LUBBOCK, TX 72% $84,600 $321.92
7 YUMA, AZ 90% $106,800 $325.11
8 TUPELO, MS 64% $81,100 $347.17
9 AMARILLO, TX 73% $92,700 $347.91
10 FORT SMITH, AR 61% $77,500 $348.08
11 CORPUS CHRISTI, TX 60% $83,500 $381.28
12 SIOUX CITY, IA 61% $88,800 $398.83
13 SHREVEPORT, LA 64% $94,400 $404.11
14 PADUCAH, KY 58% $86,200 $407.18
15 OKLAHOMA CITY, OK 68% $102,600 $413.38
16 WICHITA, KS 65% $100,900 $425.29
17 POCATELLO, ID 64% $99,400 $425.51
18 MACON, GA 66% $102,800 $426.73
19 PUEBLO, CO 76% $121,700 $438.72
20 SAN ANTONIO, TX 60% $97,200 $443.84
21 ALBANY, NY 53% $86,700 $448.18
22 TOPEKA, KS 61% $103,500 $464.86
23 BINGHAMTON, NY 49% $83,900 $469.11
24 TULSA, OK 62% $106,900 $472.38
25 FORT WAYNE, IN 59% $102,000 $473.65
26 JACKSON, MS 61% $106,300 $477.43
27 LITTLE ROCK, AR 62% $108,700 $480.34
28 MONTGOMERY, AL 58% $101,900 $481.34
29 EVANSVILLE, IN 59% $104,500 $485.26
30 BISMARCK, ND 59% $106,700 $495.47
31 MEMPHIS, TN 64% $117,500 $503.00
32 GREAT FALLS, MT 61% $112,600 $505.73
33 SPRINGFIELD, IL 58% $107,400 $507.32
34 COLUMBIA, SC 64% $119,800 $512.84
35 SPRINGFIELD, MO 60% $113,500 $518.26
36 RAPID CITY, SD 63% $120,500 $524.03
37 ALBUQUERQUE, NM 76% $146,900 $529.56
38 TUCSON, AZ 85% $167,400 $539.56
39 GREENVILLE, SC 60% $119,600 $546.12
40 PEORIA, IL 56% $111,800 $546.97
41 LYNCHBURG, VA 59% $118,700 $551.20
42 BIRMINGHAM, AL 58% $118,200 $558.34
43 CHATTANOOGA, TN 57% $116,300 $559.00
44 BUFFALO, NY 48% $99,700 $569.06
45 SYRACUSE, NY 46% $95,800 $570.58
46 GREENSBORO, NC 60% $125,400 $572.60
47 HOUSTON, TX 59% $123,400 $573.02
48 FARGO, ND 57% $123,700 $594.57
49 KNOXVILLE, TN 56% $122,700 $600.29
50 DALLAS-FT WORTH, TX 61% $133,900 $601.39
51 SAVANNAH, GA 62% $136,300 $602.30
52 LINCOLN, NE 61% $135,000 $606.33
53 CHEYENNE, WY 66% $146,700 $608.97
54 ROCHESTER, NY 51% $113,900 $611.87
55 BILLINGS, MT 60% $134,400 $613.70
56 PENSACOLA, FL 60% $135,100 $616.89
57 OMAHA, NE 60% $135,800 $620.09
58 COLUMBIA, MO 56% $126,800 $620.35
59 GRAND JUNCTION, CO 71% $163,600 $631.29
60 DES MOINES, IA 59% $136,400 $633.39
61 PITTSBURGH, PA 45% $104,600 $636.83
62 BOISE, ID 64% $149,400 $639.55
63 DAYTON, OH 53% $124,400 $643.06
64 DULUTH, MN 52% $122,400 $644.89
65 LOUISVILLE, KY 56% $132,800 $649.71
66 HARRISBURG, PA 58% $138,000 $651.87
67 HELENA, MT 59% $140,500 $652.43
68 TOLEDO, OH 52% $125,500 $661.22
69 WILMINGTON, NC 63% $152,200 $661.88
70 KANSAS CITY, MO 60% $145,500 $664.38
71 NEW ORLEANS, LA 57% $138,500 $665.71
72 CHARLOTTE, NC 62% $150,900 $666.81
73 PHOENIX, AZ 85% $207,300 $668.17
74 TAMPA, FL 66% $163,300 $677.87
75 INDIANAPOLIS, IN 55% $136,500 $679.95
76 ST. LOUIS, MO 57% $141,800 $681.57
77 CHARLESTON, SC 63% $158,800 $690.58
78 ASHEVILLE, NC 59% $149,900 $696.08
79 BURLINGTON, VT 49% $125,000 $698.91
80 JACKSONVILLE, FL 63% $162,000 $704.50
81 NASHVILLE, TN 56% $148,500 $726.52
82 AUSTIN, TX 60% $161,000 $735.16
83 SALT LAKE CITY, UT 66% $177,900 $738.48
84 SPOKANE, WA 54% $147,000 $745.81
85 REDDING, CA 88% $240,200 $747.82
86 GREEN BAY, WI 54% $147,400 $747.84
87 FLAGSTAFF, AZ 78% $213,500 $749.91
88 RICHMOND, VA 63% $173,200 $753.21
89 RALEIGH, NC 58% $170,000 $803.02
90 ATLANTA, GA 60% $177,200 $809.13
91 LANSING, MI 51% $151,900 $816.01
92 CLEVELAND, OH 49% $146,700 $820.24
93 GRAND RAPIDS, MI 46% $141,600 $843.36
94 COLUMBUS, OH 50% $155,600 $852.60
95 FRESNO, CA 79% $251,000 $870.47
96 DETROIT, MI 53% $170,600 $881.88
97 ALLENTOWN, PA 53% $175,300 $906.18
98 LAS VEGAS, NV 85% $289,300 $932.47
99 MILWAUKEE, WI 54% $183,800 $932.52
100 DENVER, CO 69% $239,100 $949.37
101 MIAMI, FL 70% $250,000 $978.47
102 MISSOULA, MT 55% $204,000 $1,016.19
103 PHILADELPHIA, PA 56% $208,400 $1,019.57
104 MADISON, WI 54% $203,200 $1,030.95
105 ATLANTIC CITY, NJ 56% $221,800 $1,085.13
106 PORTLAND, ME 57% $225,800 $1,085.32
107 MINNEAPOLIS, MN 58% $235,900 $1,114.31
108 HARTFORD, CT 56% $229,400 $1,122.31
109 RENO, NV 79% $333,700 $1,157.27
110 BALTIMORE, MD 57% $243,500 $1,170.39
111 CONCORD, NH 54% $231,700 $1,175.55
112 CHICAGO, IL 54% $233,500 $1,184.68
113 PORTLAND, OR 48% $228,400 $1,303.65
114 PROVIDENCE, RI 58% $294,900 $1,393.01
115 SACRAMENTO, CA 78% $396,900 $1,394.10
116 ANCHORAGE, AK 41% $217,500 $1,453.39
117 EUREKA, CA 51% $300,700 $1,615.36
118 HONOLULU, HI 71% $457,700 $1,766.16
119 SEATTLE, WA 43% $290,200 $1,849.00
120 BOSTON, MA 58% $394,800 $1,864.90
121 LOS ANGELES, CA 73% $520,000 $1,951.59
122 NEW YORK, NY 58% $419,200 $1,980.16
123 WASHINGTON, D.C. 56% $404,900 $1,980.92
124 HILO, HI 41% $329,900 $2,204.48
125 SAN DIEGO, CA 68% $552,000 $2,224.01
126 KAHULUI, HI 67% $573,400 $2,344.71
127 KEY WEST, FL 76% $683,200 $2,462.87
128 SAN FRANCISCO, CA 66% $655,300 $2,720.22

 

10 Comments

  1. Pingback: Top 25 Sunniest US Cities Ranked by Housing Cost « justinholman

  2. pjc / February 5, 2012 at 6:31 pm / Reply

    This is a good analysis, and very interesting.

    However, if you just go by sunny days as your metric of “nice weather”, then you’d conclude that Chicago has a slightly nicer climate than Portland OR and Seattle WA. I think the population dynamics of the last 30 years, and rudimentary common sense, would indicate that this is patently false.

    Still, I think a reasonable accounting for “how much do you pay for decent weather”, would likely rank Pueblo fairly high. But focusing purely on sunny days is a bit distorting, overly rewarding sunny and cold, or sunny and quite hot, or sunny and humid, and punishing cloudy and mild.

    • justinholman / February 6, 2012 at 8:21 am / Reply

      pjc, thank you for the comment. I agree that this can be misleading as it’s not meant as a metric of “nice weather”. Right up front I state that this assumes you just want the most sunshine for the lowest housing cost. I like the example of Chicago vs Portland/Seattle because I think a lot of people mistakenly assume that they’ll prefer the climate in the Pacific Northwest but have no idea how little sunshine they’ll see during the winter months. Most people are surprised to hear that I like the climate in Ann Arbor better than in Eugene, Oregon. Summers in Eugene are just about perfect but the long grey dreary winters were tough to take even though the mild temperatures were very nice.
      I like the question “how much do you pay for decent weather” and I plan to work on this a bit but it will take more data, more time and I’m not sure there’s a way around the subjective side of what constitutes good weather. Some people like it warmer than others, cooler than others, wetter than others, etc. In any case, thanks again for the comment and let me know if you have any additional thoughts.

  3. Pingback: Map of the Best Bargains in Sunshine « Geographical Perspectives

  4. Bob Holman / June 30, 2013 at 6:51 pm / Reply

    Justin:
    Dreary winters in Eugene? That’s what the good Pinot Noirs and Maple Garden are for.
    Great Blog! I wish I would have known about it before now.

    • Justin / June 30, 2013 at 7:00 pm / Reply

      Hi Bob – Sorry you you missed the blog until now! Glad you found it! Cheers, Justin

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  6. Pingback: Top 25 Sunniest US Cities Ranked by Housing Cost | Geographical Perspectives

  7. Manny Ramirez / October 8, 2015 at 5:19 pm / Reply

    How can I reverse this and find the best value for cloudy weather? I hate sunny days! I feel happy and cheerful when the weather is cloudy. Seattle might seem like the best choice for me but it seems like Buffalo or Pittsburgh offers the best comfortable cloudy weather for the lowest price.

    I do not mind a very warm day if the sky is completely overcast and cloudy but I dislike a sunny 75 degree day. I think the best way to cope with uncomfortable sunny days is to do all ones errands at night once the sun goes down. I want the least amount of sunshine possible. My ideal climate would be 364 cloudy days a year! I would be willing to suffer through one sunny day per year just to remind me how good I have it with 364 cloudy days per year.

    • Justin / October 12, 2015 at 10:26 am / Reply

      Hi Manny,
      Alaska is a good bet. If you don’t want to leave the lower 48 then here’s a list of places averaging 200+ cloudy days per year.

      City State Avg # Cloudy Days Per Year
      MT. WASHINGTON NH 244
      ASTORIA OR 239
      OLYMPIA WA 228
      SEATTLE WA 226
      PORTLAND OR 222
      KALISPELL MT 214
      BINGHAMTON NY 212
      ELKINS WV 212
      BECKLEY WV 210
      EUGENE OR 209
      SAULT STE. MARIE MI 209
      BUFFALO NY 208
      MISSOULA MT 208
      SALEM OR 208
      BURLINGTON VT 206
      CARIBOU ME 206
      GRAND RAPIDS MI 205
      SYRACUSE NY 205
      YOUNGSTOWN OH 205
      HUNTINGTON WV 203
      PITTSBURGH PA 203
      CLEVELAND OH 202
      MUSKEGON MI 202
      HOUGHTON LAKE MI 200
      ROCHESTER NY 200

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