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Rust Belt rebirth: a $17,500 Cincinnati old home renewal

It’s become difficult to afford urban living in places like San Francisco, New York or even Portland, but there is an alternative. In Rust Belt cities like Pittsburgh, Buffalo and Cincinnati, you can buy or rent for about 1/10th the price.

“They’re all much better than people in California imagine,” blogs Johnny Sanphillippo who has spent significant time interviewing people in this part of the country. “I’m a huge fan of the city of Cincinnati. I love the magnificent architecture, the cool people, and the gorgeous natural beauty that surrounds the city. And I’m incredibly excited that many of the best historic neighborhoods are beginning to come back to life after a fifty year slumber brought on by middle class exodus to the suburbs, deindustrialization, and general neglect. There’s a serious pent up market demand for vibrant, mixed use, walkable neighborhoods all across the country with shockingly little supply. We just haven’t built places like this since World War II and there’s a hunger for it in the real estate market.”

In this video, Sanphillippo visits Mike Uhlenhake who bought his historic row house in the now-trendy Over-The-Rhine neighborhood for $17,500 (it was a burnt out shell on the “condemned list”). He fixed it up himself for a grand total of $90,000. Today he lives upstairs with a roommate and rents out the bottom floor for extra income.

* Johnny Sanphillippo (owner of a small, mortgage-free home) filmed this story. He blogs about urbanism on granolashotgun.com