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House-hunting USA: What $500,000 buys you in 25 cities

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From a renovated studio to a house with a turret

Welcome to Curbed Comparisons, a column that (typically) explores what one can rent for a set dollar amount in various cities across the U.S.

A few weeks ago, we looked at what $250,000 buys in real estate markets around the country. While that price point reflects median sale prices in the U.S., in a few big cities, it could only fetch small, income-restricted apartments. This week, we loosen our hypothetical wallets a little to see what a whole half-a-million dollars can nab in all 14 Curbed cities and more.

For $500,000, everything from studios to large houses new and old can be had, not to mention a fascinating variety of home styles. Take a closer look.

Atlanta, GA

5 beds, 4 baths, 2,226 sq.ft. — For $474,000 to be exact, you can snag this 2006-built house in northwest Atlanta. Things still look pretty new inside, with granite counters, stainless appliances, glass shower, and more. Two garages and a finished basement are included.

Austin, TX

4 beds, 4 baths, 3,649 sq.ft. — Space is not a problem in this 2008-built Austin house with an expansive open plan layout, high ceilings, and glass walls overlooking a generous rear deck. Rooms are huge, walk-in-closets can be had, and the yard has enough room for a pool.

Boston, MA

3 beds, 2 baths, 1,241 sq.ft. — Located in Boston’s West Roxbury neighborhood, about 10 miles southwest of downtown, this petite but well-maintained home has been upgraded with new vinyl siding and updated bath. There’s a garage, deck, and comely yard in the back.

Buffalo, NY

5 beds, 4 baths, 3,826 sq.ft. — How charming is this Second Empire Buffalo home? Asking $479,000, the circa-1900 beauty retains its high ceilings, crown moldings, delft tile fireplace, decorative ceiling, more. Some places could use a bit of upgrading, but the bones are lovely for sure.

Charleston, SC

3 beds, 3 baths, 1,640 sq.ft. — Asking a flat $500,000, this centrally located Charleston home was completed in 2014 and offers a modern style. Interiors offer high-end finishes like granite and marble counters, Porcelanosa tiles, bamboo floors, plus a large private rooftop deck.

Chicago, IL

2 beds, 2 baths, 1,200 sq.ft. — $500,000 gets you a hip loft apartment in the increasingly hip Fulton River District. The unit offers 12-foot timber ceilings with a fireplace, built-in shelves, marble bath, fireplace, not to mention a balcony with skyline views.

Colorado Springs, CO

4 beds, 3 baths, 2,925 sq.ft. — Originally listed at $539,000 in November, this 1979-built home came down $40,000 a week later. The house has huge rooms, prime mountain views, a fenced-in play area, and a full-size Little League baseball infield.

Des Moines, IA

4 beds, 4 baths, 3,300 sq.ft. — Talk about curb appeal. This 1929 home in Des Moines’ Waterbury neighborhood has been renovated with an open plan layout, updated kitchen, and master suite with walk-in closet and walk-in shower. The wooded backyard seems to come with a treehouse.

Detroit, MI

5 beds, 6 baths, 4,490 sq.ft. — $489,000 gets you this grand beauty in the Boston Edison Historic Neighborhood. The renovated 1911 house retains original (but refinished) wood floors and stained glass, but adds new bathrooms, as well as granite and stainless touches.

The Hamptons: Montauk, NY

1 bed, 1 bath, 500 sq.ft. — For $500,000, you too can get an itty bitty piece of this trendy Hamptons enclave. Located steps away from the Harbor on Lake Montauk, this ground-floor unit comes with a covered patio, shared dock, pool, and, per the listing, “a free boat slip for vessels up to 32’.”

Houston, TX

5 beds, 3 baths, 3,320 sq.ft. — A series of small recent price-cuts puts this remodeled Houston home in our budget. Highlights include a large breakfast room, mud room, yard with patio, and how about those gorgeous mature trees? The large roof here is brand new.

Las Vegas, NV

4 beds, 3 baths, 2,542 sq.ft. — Here’s a rear view of our “Cover Star”: a remodeled Las Vegas home with a very enticing solar-heated pool. The open-plan interior features vaulted ceilings and new quartz counters, stainless appliances, carpeting, paint, and travertine floors.

Los Angeles, CA

2 beds, 1 bath, 1,022 sq.ft. — This hilltop midcentury post-and-beam home, about 20 minutes northeast of Downtown L.A., is compact but oh-so-charming, starting with that minty-fresh facade. The ‘50s abode offers airy open-plan living inside and, on the outside, lovely valley views.

Miami, FL

4 beds, 2 baths, 2,102 sq.ft. — A nice change from glassy high-rise condos, this Spanish-style Miami home dates back to 1923. It comes with a front porch, French doors, and a fenced backyard with mature fruit trees.

Milwaukee, WI

4 beds, 2 baths, 2,451 sq.ft. — Brick lovers will enjoy this fine 1910 home immaculately renovated by a local architect. Look for generously sized rooms, leaded glass windows, and new-everything inside.

Minneapolis, MN

3 beds, 3 baths, 2,707 sq.ft. — A $20,000 price cut this week puts this handsome ‘80s home well within our budget at $479,900. Located close to downtown Minneapolis, the house offers an open kitchen, rear deck, and two private balconies.

New Orleans, LA

3 beds, 2 baths, 2,200 sq.ft. — It’s easy to swoon over this low-slung ‘50s home located a block away from Lake Pontchartrain. Past the charming red door, you’ll find renovated interiors with updated counters, cabinets, hardwood oak floors, plus a newly landscaped yard in the back.

New York, NY

1 bed, 1 bath — $490,000 is enough to score a polished Hell’s Kitchen one-bedroom with an open kitchen and south-facing living room. For better or worse, this second-floor walk-up is a block from a Times Square subway entrance.

Oklahoma City, OK

4 bed, 2 baths, 3,250 sq.ft. — This ‘30s brick home went through a full renovation in 2012-2013 and the result is a fabulous mix of the old and new.From the gorgeous arched doorways to the pristine kitchen, this home has a lot to love.

Philadelphia, PA

4 bed, 4 baths, 3,063 sq.ft. — The only turret on this list hails from Philadelphia’s West Mount Airy neighborhood. The French-inspired home keeps its original millwork, built-ins, and spiral staircase, and more. It was originally listed for $579,000 in March.

San Diego, CA

3 bed, 3 baths, 1,780 sq.ft. — Perfect San Diego weather beckons at this renovated single-story home with a new fireplace and large backyard. The property is actually zoned for two units, so it’s also possible to split the house into two.

San Francisco, CA

Studio, 1 bath — It may only be a studio, but this luxury apartment looks brand new and is centrally located, which counts for a whole lot in San Francisco. There’s hardwood flooring throughout, and high-end touches throughout the kitchen. The condo complex comes with a heated swimming pool, spa, gym, plus excellent Walk/Transit/Bike Scores.

Seattle, WA

3 bed, 2 baths, 1,360 sq.ft. — This remodeled Cape Cod a straight eight miles north of downtown Seattle is almost too cute for words. The house has new paint jobs, refinished floors, and a revamped basement with a bedroom, bath, family room, and recreation room. The yard is perfect for gardeners.

Tucson, AZ

3 bed, 3 baths, 2,643 sq.ft. — Sunny desert living awaits at this renovated masonry stucco home in Tucson’s Old Fort Lowell neighborhood. The highlight here? Panoramic views of the Santa Catalina Mountains.

Washington, D.C.

1 bed, 1 bath, 792 sq.ft. — This spacious Georgetown condo is perfect for those seeking a quiet comfort and historic charm. The well-lit unit comes with original hardwood floors, high ceilings, crown moldings, plus an updated kitchen and a semi-private patio.