David Dudley is the executive editor of CityLab. He is the former editor in chief of Urbanite magazine and a former features editor for AARP: The Magazine.
If you want to live like a classic TV family, prepare to pay up.
Superfans of the late-1980s family comedy Full House (or its weirdly popular Netflix reanimation, Fuller House) can now explore the real-world limits of their sitcom love by renting out the three-bedroom Victorian in San Francisco that was used in exterior shots on the show: It’s available for almost $14,000 per month, according to an online listing. (And it comes with a gardener.)
The home’s stratospheric rent, and the growing improbability that its TV residents could afford to live in it, have now made it something of a poster child for the Bay Area’s white-hot housing boom. (It was listed for sale this spring at $4.15 million and later sold for $4 million.) But the Tanner family home isn’t the only classic sitcom domicile to experience some radical value inflation. Take a gander at Richie Cunningham’s family’s stately Colonial: In Happy Days, this was supposed to be the home of a circa-1955 Milwaukee hardware store owner. When it last sold, in 1995, the six-bedroom home (which is actually in L.A.’s Mid-Wilshire neighborhood) went for a still-attainable $422,000. Zillow’s current value estimate is a little north of $3 million.
Similar stories can be found up and down the TV dial. Mike Brady’s North Hollywood rancher was listed for $2 million in 2008. Happy Days spin-off Mork and Mindy, set in Boulder, Colorado, prominently featured exteriors of an ornate Queen Anne-style home—a historic private residence known as the McAllister House—that’s valued by Zillow today at a tad under $2 million. That same price should also get you in the door of Mary Tyler Moore’s bachelorette pad in Minneapolis, which is on the market right now (and looks spectacular) for $1,995,000.
Perhaps you are saying: “Hey, I like classic television, but I do not have $2 million.”
Then you may have to settle for the blue-collar world of 1990s hit Roseanne, where a modest bungalow in Evansville, Indiana, provided the exterior for the Conner family home. It’s a relative bargain in the world of sitcom housing, selling for $129,000 in 2013, complete with knotty pine-paneled basement rumpus room. Still, the authentically downscale environs of Roseanne remain something of an anomaly in the cities of American television, where striving young urbanites reside in ludicrously vast apartments and even Archie Bunker’s place in Queens is worth about $600,000.
The message: Even as most U.S. metropolitan areas continue to report shrinking shares of middle-income residents, on TV, at least, we’re all still comfortably middle class.