California was not the most expensive. Maryland was lower, but not far behind. We live where we do because of my partners job. In 2005, we got 800 sf with 3 bedrooms in a lower middle class neighborhood for 250 thousand. There are plenty of places where that amount could have bought so much more. We expected to build equity and trade up, but the housing market turned upside down.
Back then , we were newly out of grad school. My partner scrimped and saved while I finished school a d she managed to save enough for 10 percent down in only 3 years. Once I started working, we could have saved more the next couple of years. Well, at least until the first child was born we could have stayed in our one bedroom for rent of 1000 instead of the higher mortgage and housing expeenses.
We fell into the lies that home ownership is so great. Honestly, at this point, we would be better off renting. Being underwater means that every dollar we send in is pretty much like rent. It will be years before we have any equity