December 1, 2023

What $1.1 Million Buys You in California

5 min read
What .1 Million Buys You in California

This house is in the Westbrae neighborhood, a few blocks from a busy stretch of San Pablo Avenue, a major thoroughfare lined with businesses including a brewing supply store, several Vietnamese restaurants and a Whole Foods grocery store. The nearest BART station, North Berkeley, is a five-minute drive or a 20-minute walk. Berkeley Village, a housing development where a number of students from the University of California at Berkeley live, is about a mile away; the main Berkeley campus is about 10 minutes away by car.

Size: 1,144 square feet

Price per square foot: $917

Indoors: Steps lead from the street to the front door, set back beneath a simple arch.

The foyer, like the rest of the house, has recently refinished hardwood floors. To the left is the living room, which has a tall window facing the street and two more windows flanking the stucco-clad fireplace. Three arched openings lead to the dining room, which has a new hanging light fixture and easy access to the kitchen.

In the kitchen, a green-tile backsplash lines the walls behind the sink and range. On one side of the room is a nook that serves as a combination pantry and laundry room; on the other is a home office that can also be reached from the foyer, with a built-in for magazine storage along one wall and a bay of windows that offers a sunny spot for a desk and chair.

A door in the dining room that can be shut for privacy leads to the private wing of the house. The two bedrooms, of roughly equal size, have original wall closets; the bedroom on the right side of the hall has direct access to the backyard. Also off the hall is a recently updated bathroom with a combination tub and shower.

Outdoor space: The backyard is landscaped with playground-grade artificial grass, making it low maintenance and ideal for play equipment. The garage has been converted into a partially covered outdoor room, with deck-style flooring and enough space for a large sofa and dining set.

Taxes: $13,116 (estimated)

Contact: Tracy Palma, Golden Gate Sotheby’s International Realty, 415-305-6726;

About 45 minutes from San Francisco, Mill Valley is a popular destination for buyers seeking easy access to outdoor recreation as well as proximity to dining, shopping and other big-city amenities. This townhouse is within easy walking distance of several pharmacies and grocery stores, a farmers’ market and a post office. Mill Valley Golf Course, a nine-hole municipal course, is five minutes away by car, as is Boyle Park, which has a picnic area and five public tennis courts.

Size: 1,525 square feet

Price per square foot: $718

Indoors: This townhouse is an end unit in a complex; a short, paved path leads to its bright blue front door.

To the left of the entry is a dining area with new white oak flooring and a railing that sets off the adjacent sunken living room, which has a sleek fireplace framed in white stone.

On the other side of the entry is the kitchen, updated during a recent renovation with stainless-steel appliances, a white subway-tile backsplash and a center island that provides additional cooking and dining space.

Also on this level is a powder room, as well as access to the attached garage.

Stairs in the living room lead to the second level, where there are two bedroom suites. To the left of the landing is the primary bedroom, which has enough space for a king-size bed and a dresser; the bathroom has patterned black-and-white tile and a double vanity made from distressed wood. Across the hall is a guest suite with a pass-through closet and dressing area that leads to a full bathroom with a combination tub and shower finished with matte-black hardware.

Outdoor space: A deck off the kitchen has a fence topped with lattice for privacy and enough room for a small table and a set of chairs. The two-car garage has epoxy flooring and additional storage space.

Taxes: $13,692 (estimated), plus a $612 monthly homeowner association fee

Contact: Lauren Ramsey, Compass, 415-450-5955;

This house is on a tree-lined street, surrounded by other midcentury ranch-style houses. It is about two miles from downtown San Luis Obispo, which attracts weekenders from Los Angeles and the Bay Area, as well as students from the California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo. Terrace Hill, a park with a gentle slope that hikers climb for city views, is half a mile away, as is the San Luis Obispo Railroad Museum, housed in an 1890s freight building. An Amtrak train station is a few minutes away by car.

Size: 1,214 square feet

Price per square foot: $906

Indoors: A driveway runs alongside the house, next to a covered porch that could hold a small bench or a few chairs overlooking the front yard.

Behind the cherry-red front door is an open living room with wide-plank floors and windows facing the front and side of the property. A space between the sitting area and kitchen could hold a dining table; there is also room for a storage island or a breakfast bar.

The recently updated kitchen has white tilework and cabinets, a farmhouse-style sink, recessed ceiling lights and several windows.

From the dining area, a hallway extends toward the back of the house. Two guest rooms off the hallway could each comfortably hold a full-size bed; one also has backyard access. These two bedrooms have the use of a full bathroom with a double vanity.

At the far end of the hall is the primary suite, which has backyard access as well as a small sitting area. The bathroom has a walk-in shower with a glass wall.

Outdoor space: The backyard is paved with a mix of concrete and stone, and has two areas for entertaining. One, close to the wood fence, is shaded by several mature trees; the other is across from a small shed that the sellers use as an indoor-outdoor playroom. The detached two-car garage could be converted into an accessory dwelling unit.

Taxes: $13,752 (estimated)

Contact: Molly Lannen and Bobbie Combs, Keller Williams Realty Central Coast, 805-801-5833;

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