Home > Geography, Real Estate > The Price of a Sunny Day: Top 5 Bargain Cities for Sunshine

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

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 (cheapest to most expensive) along with % Sunshine, Median home value, $ per Sunny Day:

Rank Location

% Sunshine

Median home value

$ 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

6

LAKE CHARLES, LA

72%

$84,200

$320.40

7

LUBBOCK, TX

72%

$84,600

$321.92

9

YUMA, AZ

90%

$106,800

$325.11

10

TUPELO, MS

64%

$81,100

$347.17

11

AMARILLO, TX

73%

$92,700

$347.91

12

FORT SMITH, AR

61%

$77,500

$348.08

15

CORPUS CHRISTI, TX

60%

$83,500

$381.28

16

SIOUX CITY, IA

61%

$88,800

$398.83

17

SHREVEPORT, LA

64%

$94,400

$404.11

18

PADUCAH, KY

58%

$86,200

$407.18

20

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK

68%

$102,600

$413.38

22

WICHITA, KS

65%

$100,900

$425.29

23

POCATELLO, ID

64%

$99,400

$425.51

24

MACON, GA

66%

$102,800

$426.73

25

PUEBLO, CO

76%

$121,700

$438.72

26

SAN ANTONIO, TX

60%

$97,200

$443.84

29

ALBANY, NY

53%

$86,700

$448.18

30

TOPEKA, KS

61%

$103,500

$464.86

31

BINGHAMTON, NY

49%

$83,900

$469.11

32

TULSA, OK

62%

$106,900

$472.38

33

FORT WAYNE, IN

59%

$102,000

$473.65

35

JACKSON, MS

61%

$106,300

$477.43

38

LITTLE ROCK, AR

62%

$108,700

$480.34

40

MONTGOMERY, AL

58%

$101,900

$481.34

44

EVANSVILLE, IN

59%

$104,500

$485.26

45

BISMARCK, ND

59%

$106,700

$495.47

47

MEMPHIS, TN

64%

$117,500

$503.00

48

GREAT FALLS, MT

61%

$112,600

$505.73

49

SPRINGFIELD, IL

58%

$107,400

$507.32

50

COLUMBIA, SC

64%

$119,800

$512.84

51

SPRINGFIELD, MO

60%

$113,500

$518.26

52

RAPID CITY, SD

63%

$120,500

$524.03

54

ALBUQUERQUE, NM

76%

$146,900

$529.56

55

TUCSON, AZ

85%

$167,400

$539.56

58

GREENVILLE, SC

60%

$119,600

$546.12

59

PEORIA, IL

56%

$111,800

$546.97

60

LYNCHBURG, VA

59%

$118,700

$551.20

61

BIRMINGHAM, AL

58%

$118,200

$558.34

62

CHATTANOOGA, TN

57%

$116,300

$559.00

63

BUFFALO, NY

48%

$99,700

$569.06

64

SYRACUSE, NY

46%

$95,800

$570.58

66

GREENSBORO, NC

60%

$125,400

$572.60

67

HOUSTON, TX

59%

$123,400

$573.02

68

FARGO, ND

57%

$123,700

$594.57

69

KNOXVILLE, TN

56%

$122,700

$600.29

70

DALLAS-FORT WORTH, TX

61%

$133,900

$601.39

71

SAVANNAH, GA

62%

$136,300

$602.30

72

LINCOLN, NE

61%

$135,000

$606.33

74

CHEYENNE, WY

66%

$146,700

$608.97

75

ROCHESTER, NY

51%

$113,900

$611.87

76

BILLINGS, MT

60%

$134,400

$613.70

77

PENSACOLA, FL

60%

$135,100

$616.89

78

OMAHA, NE

60%

$135,800

$620.09

79

COLUMBIA, MO

56%

$126,800

$620.35

81

GRAND JUNCTION, CO

71%

$163,600

$631.29

83

DES MOINES, IA

59%

$136,400

$633.39

85

PITTSBURGH, PA

45%

$104,600

$636.83

89

BOISE, ID

64%

$149,400

$639.55

90

DAYTON, OH

53%

$124,400

$643.06

91

DULUTH, MN

52%

$122,400

$644.89

92

LOUISVILLE, KY

56%

$132,800

$649.71

94

HARRISBURG, PA

58%

$138,000

$651.87

96

HELENA, MT

59%

$140,500

$652.43

97

TOLEDO, OH

52%

$125,500

$661.22

99

WILMINGTON, NC

63%

$152,200

$661.88

100

KANSAS CITY, MO

60%

$145,500

$664.38

101

NEW ORLEANS, LA

57%

$138,500

$665.71

102

CHARLOTTE, NC

62%

$150,900

$666.81

103

PHOENIX, AZ

85%

$207,300

$668.17

104

TAMPA, FL

66%

$163,300

$677.87

105

INDIANAPOLIS, IN

55%

$136,500

$679.95

106

ST. LOUIS, MO

57%

$141,800

$681.57

109

CHARLESTON, SC

63%

$158,800

$690.58

110

ASHEVILLE, NC

59%

$149,900

$696.08

112

BURLINGTON, VT

49%

$125,000

$698.91

114

JACKSONVILLE, FL

63%

$162,000

$704.50

115

NASHVILLE, TN

56%

$148,500

$726.52

116

AUSTIN, TX

60%

$161,000

$735.16

118

SALT LAKE CITY, UT

66%

$177,900

$738.48

120

SPOKANE, WA

54%

$147,000

$745.81

121

REDDING, CA

88%

$240,200

$747.82

122

GREEN BAY, WI

54%

$147,400

$747.84

127

FLAGSTAFF, AZ

78%

$213,500

$749.91

128

RICHMOND, VA

63%

$173,200

$753.21

131

RALEIGH, NC

58%

$170,000

$803.02

132

ATLANTA, GA

60%

$177,200

$809.13

133

LANSING, MI

51%

$151,900

$816.01

134

CLEVELAND, OH

49%

$146,700

$820.24

135

GRAND RAPIDS, MI

46%

$141,600

$843.36

136

COLUMBUS, OH

50%

$155,600

$852.60

139

FRESNO, CA

79%

$251,000

$870.47

140

DETROIT, MI

53%

$170,600

$881.88

141

ALLENTOWN, PA

53%

$175,300

$906.18

142

LAS VEGAS, NV

85%

$289,300

$932.47

144

MILWAUKEE, WI

54%

$183,800

$932.52

145

DENVER, CO

69%

$239,100

$949.37

146

MIAMI, FL

70%

$250,000

$978.47

147

MISSOULA, MT

55%

$204,000

$1,016.19

149

PHILADELPHIA, PA

56%

$208,400

$1,019.57

151

MADISON, WI

54%

$203,200

$1,030.95

153

ATLANTIC CITY, NJ

56%

$221,800

$1,085.13

154

PORTLAND, ME

57%

$225,800

$1,085.32

155

MINNEAPOLIS-ST.PAUL, MN

58%

$235,900

$1,114.31

156

HARTFORD, CT

56%

$229,400

$1,122.31

157

RENO, NV

79%

$333,700

$1,157.27

160

BALTIMORE, MD

57%

$243,500

$1,170.39

161

CONCORD, NH

54%

$231,700

$1,175.55

162

CHICAGO, IL

54%

$233,500

$1,184.68

164

PORTLAND, OR

48%

$228,400

$1,303.65

165

PROVIDENCE, RI

58%

$294,900

$1,393.01

166

SACRAMENTO, CA

78%

$396,900

$1,394.10

167

ANCHORAGE, AK

41%

$217,500

$1,453.39

173

EUREKA, CA

51%

$300,700

$1,615.36

176

HONOLULU, HI

71%

$457,700

$1,766.16

177

SEATTLE, WA

43%

$290,200

$1,849.00

178

BOSTON, MA

58%

$394,800

$1,864.90

179

LOS ANGELES, CA

73%

$520,000

$1,951.59

180

NEW YORK, NY

58%

$419,200

$1,980.16

181

WASHINGTON, D.C.

56%

$404,900

$1,980.92

182

HILO, HI

41%

$329,900

$2,204.48

185

SAN DIEGO, CA

68%

$552,000

$2,224.01

186

KAHULUI, HI

67%

$573,400

$2,344.71

188

KEY WEST, FL

76%

$683,200

$2,462.87

191

SAN FRANCISCO, CA

66%

$655,300

$2,720.22


  1. pjc
    February 5, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    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.

    • February 6, 2012 at 8:21 am

      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.

  1. February 5, 2012 at 1:00 pm
  2. March 19, 2012 at 12:05 pm

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