Could Captain Kirk afford to live in San Francisco?

by Ryan Smith08 Sep 2016
Today is the 50th anniversary of classic sci-fi franchise Star Trek. In the original show (and various movie tie-ins), the intrepid crew of the Enterprise boldly goes where no one has gone before, exploring the far reaches of the galaxy. But could it be that Captain Kirk spent so much time in space because he simply couldn’t afford to live on Earth anymore?

In the world of Star Trek, Kirk lived in San Francisco – where Starfleet was headquartered – when he wasn’t off on a five-year mission. With San Francisco home prices already in the stratosphere, what can future homeowners look forward to?

The current median home price in San Francisco is about $1.1 million, according to . And that San Francisco home prices have appreciated at an average of 3% over the last year – or around three times the current rate of inflation.

Let’s assume a worst-case scenario for James T. Kirk, homebuyer – the Kobayashi Maru of homebuying, if you will. That means no major housing collapses, economic meltdowns or other catastrophes between now and then. We’re going to assume San Francisco home prices will keep seeing an average 3% appreciation per year for the next couple of centuries and change. Three percent may not seem like much – but as the years roll on, home values will multiply like tribbles in a quadrotriticale bin.

Captain Kirk should be leaving for his mission about 250 years from now: in 2266. He’s got a desk job in San Francisco 16 years later, in 2282. So let’s assume he bought his house in 2280. Let’s further assume that he purchased a home with a middle-of-the-road price -- $1.1 million in 2016 San Francisco.

If San Francisco home prices keep appreciating at 3% per year between now and when Kirk buys his house, he’ll be looking at a price tag of nearly $2.7 billion in 2280 -- $2,694,139,053.33, to be exact. And keep in mind that 3% year over year is a relatively conservative estimate. By , home prices in the City by the Bay have risen by as much as 76% over the last five years.

On the upside, if Kirk sells the house in 2282 to fund various Khan-fighting and Spock-searching expenses, it will have appreciated enough that he’ll net a tidy $164 million profit. Not too shabby for only two years of appreciation. Still, he might be better off moving back to his home state of Iowa, where the average home would only set him back by $85 million in 2280.

At any event, now we may know why Kirk was so famously irate when Khan trapped him on the Genesis planet – he may have been worried about missing his mortgage payment.


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