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Burt Polson

J.L. Sousa/Register Burt Polson writes the Real Estate in the Napa Valley column for the Napa Valley Register.

Have you ever considered the similarities and differences between Napa, California and Waco, Texas?

After watching several episodes of “Fixer Upper” on HGTV and becoming a bit disgruntled I asked myself the same question.

Why was I disgruntled?

In my previous article, I discussed the differences in housing costs between the two cities.

With the cost of a home in Waco on average being 25 percent of a home in Napa, I ask myself ‘why?’

Performing a quick comparison on Sperlings Best Places I found that overall Napa is 72.2 percent more expensive than Waco for all living expenses. Housing is 133.6 percent more in Napa and medical costs 26.6 percent more.

The climate comfort index is 21.9 percent better in Napa. Breaking this down, the average humidity for Waco is 67 percent and for Napa 71 percent.

The average high temperature for Waco is 95 degrees Fahrenheit and low is 36 degrees. Napa is 82 degrees and 38 degrees.

Surprisingly similar, but I should add Waco gets about 28 percent more rain, which equates to 13 percent more sunny days in Napa.

The factors that contribute to the economy are very similar, except that Texas has no income tax.

The discrepancy starts with the job salaries. Napa has more high-wage earners, and the overall wages are on average 75 percent more.

The total income per household shows several categorical spreads starting at $75,000 year from 6 to 10 percent with Napa households having a higher income. At the opposite end of the income scale, the $15,000 to $45,000 range Waco has 4 to 5 percent more households.

The largest discrepancy is at the level of less than $15,000 per year with Waco having 24 percent of the households and Napa 8 percent.

The unemployment rates are within tenths of a percent with recent and future job growth closely matching between 2 to 4 percent.

Surprisingly, when looking at levels of education, each points to a less than 2 percent difference with Napa having more graduates in each class. However, Waco spends about 9 percent more per student.

Violent crime and property crimes are 41 percent and 93 percent more in Waco. This is the single most differentiating and significant factor I found between the two cities.

Religion is another category vastly different.

Of those who consider themselves religious, Waco is 63 percent and Napa is 53 percent. Waco is predominantly Baptist with 28 percent while Napa is one percent.

The next significant group is Catholic with 12 percent for Waco and 36 percent for Napa.

Lastly, political affiliation is proportionally opposite with 34 percent Democrat and 64 percent Republican and Napa the exact opposite.

As I watch the TV show armed with this information, I can now better understand the differences between the two cities.

One can hypothesize, though, whether the cost of living is dictated by income levels or the opposite to be true.

Discovering many similarities also created more questions, but of the discrepancies, several do offer for the reasoning behind the differences in the cost of living.

Burt M. Polson, CCIM, is a local real estate broker specializing in commercial, luxury estates and wineries. Reach him at 707-254-8000, or Sign up for his email newsletter at