South of the suburb where I am now living is the City of Beachwood, Ohio.
Beachwood has a variety of housing, ranging from small ranch houses to McMansions. Unlike the rest of the Cleveland area, though, housing in Beachwood is very expensive for what you get: about $150 to $250 a square foot, compared to half that in Cleveland’s other suburbs. An older two bedroom, one bathroom, 1,200 square foot house in Beachwood will set one back $180K or so, compared to $100K to $130K elsewhere.
Why? I’ve been told it was because Beachwood is populated almost entirely by religious reform and conservative Jews. Cleveland is blessed with a large Jewish population, most living in the city’s eastern suburbs. Apparently, demand is extremely high among some for living in a city that is populated almost entirely by their peers, with nary a BVM shrine, Christmas tree, or roadside cross to be seen.
There are other suburbs of Cleveland with large Jewish populations and close proximity to synagoguges, Judaica stores, Kosher restaurants and other related businesses, such as South Euclid, University Heights, Lyndhurst, Pepper Pike and parts of Cleveland Heights, but Beachwood is considered the chosen place to live. Those other areas have a large Jewish population, but there’s also a good number of goyim living among them; Beachwood, however, is almost exclusively Jewish. Is there such a premium on other middle-income Jewish areas elsewhere in the country? What about other ethnic or religious groups?
I know that certain areas of Skokie IL such as Timber Ridge have a higher than average property value such as because they are located within the eruv of popular synagogues. For an Orthodox or even Conservative Jew, I can se why you would be willing to pay more to be in the area of your religious center.
As a result of this, you see people putting much more money into their houses (bigger and more expensive kitchens for me to design :)) as well as teardowns and the construction of McMansions. That is the term for houses built to the absolute extent allowed under the local zoning, you can go down some streets in this area and see a 10,000 square foot monstrosity surrounded by 2100 sq foot split level ranches!
That makes sense, but … Beachwood has a predominantly Reform and Conservative population; the city has fought to keep Orthodox congregations out. I also can’t imagine that all the most popular synagogues would be in one community. The Jewish population gets more Conservative and Orthodox as one moves east from Beachwood deeper into inner ring suburbs, but it also becomes more diluted with non-Jews. Like I said, Beachwood is almost entirely Jewish; the city’s streets and houses are dark during Christmas.
For what it’s worth, University Heights is the center of Jewish-related retail uses; kosher food stores, restaurants, Judaica stores, and so on. Beachwood has more Jewish institutions, like the JCC, Hebrew schools, libraries, and so on. However, houses in University Heights are much cheaper per square foot than in Beachwood, which is right next door. Because UH has a more Conservative and Orthodox population, I would imagine that being within walking distance to synagogues, mikvehs, and so on would be even more important than in areas where the practitioners are more liberal.