When you’re building a custom luxury home, it’s usually a given that it will be located in a luxury area. But real-estate data site Zillow recently wondered: will you be able to see the stars?
At the request of Spread Sheet, a column in the Wall Street Journal, Zillow created an index to measure low levels of light pollution against high property values to try to find luxury areas with the best views of the night sky. As Zillow economist Skylar Olsen told the Wall Street Journal, “It’s the combination of [being] out in the boonies but still in luxury markets.”
The Zillow team went through over 11,000 postal codes, comparing the median home value as of August to light-pollution data provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Each zip code was then ranked on a weighted scale of 1-10, with 10 denoting the best combination of luxury and stargazing.
As it turned out, many of the areas that ranked high were near natural amenities like protected land and state parks, which attract wealthy residents and homebuilders. Outliers like the high-price, high-light-pollution New York City were not counted.
California was the big winner in the rankings, playing host to six of the top 10 luxury markets. A small community near San Fransisco called Stinson Beach ranked number one. Stinson Beach has a population of 632 and a median home value of $2.1 million. It’s home to a number of tech entrepreneurs.
John Barentine, program manager at the International Dark Sky Association, claimed that around 3,000 stars and the Milky Way are visible in the skies over Stinson Beach, compared to the 6,000 that could be viewed in a perfectly dark sky and the fewer than one dozen that could be viewed in a metropolitan area.
Other areas in the top 10 were located in Colorado, Hawaii and Maryland.