If you had a Sony PlayStation in the late 1990s, you owned a copy of “Final Fantasy VII.” This JRPG (Japanese role-playing game) from Squaresoft was released in 1997 and went on to achieve legendary status among fans of the genre for its reinvention of an already classic series.
One big part of what made “FFVII” so memorable was its was its unforgettable cast of characters, from the amnesiac hero Cloud Strife to the magical Aerith Gainsborough to the evil Sephiroth, and the adventures they had. Another was its setting: a dreary, slum-filled pseudo-steampunk city called Midgar and the myriad locations within it—places like Aerith’s house, which you could actually go inside during the game.
Seeing as we’ve tackled a slew of other important gaming series here on the Movoto Real Estate Blog—including another PlayStation-born classic, “Tomb Raider”—I decided that “FFVII” was overdue for the fictional property evaluation treatment. I picked Aerith’s aforementioned home as my challenge, but I wasn’t expecting the adventure I’d go on to value it. At its end, I discovered that her extremely modest house would sell for a staggering $1,886,304 if it existed in the real world.
How? Why? Where? You can find my (spoiler-free) adventure log below.
How I Did It
It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to find a property value in Midgar or Asgard, there are three crucial pieces of information you need to know:
- The property’s size
- Its real-world location
- The price of similar properties there
Even though I’d played through “FFVII” multiple times over the years, I didn’t know the layout of Aerith’s home by heart, so I decided to start my quest with a lot of measurements.
The Nicest House In Sector 5
That’s Aerith’s house above. A pretty humble abode, isn’t it? It wasn’t until I fired up the game and went back there to walk around inside that I realized how modest it really was.
If you think it’s tiny on the outside, you should see the inside. In fact, why don’t you take a look at it below:
That’s right—it’s just two floors, and at least from what you can see in the game, is comprised of only:
- A living room
- A kitchen
- Two bedrooms
- No visible bathroom
Perhaps the bathroom is around back where you can’t see it in the game? Maybe Aerith uses magic instead of toilet paper? I decided it was probably best not to think too long about such things, and got on with the measurements.
Using the size of the bedroom doors for reference (I assumed they’re standard 36-inch interior doors), I measured both floors and the kitchen area to get a total square footage of 1,176. Like I said, a very modest home (more like an apartment at that size, an observation that would help me later).
With the size worked out, I could move on to determining its (and, in the process, Midgar’s) location in the real world.
Putting Midgar On The Map (And Flipping It)
I’d always figured that Midgar was meant to be some sort of futuristic Japanese metropolis, but it turns out I was very wrong in that thinking.
After reading up on my “FFVII” development history, I learned a pretty surprising fact I’d never heard before: when planning the game, producer Hironobu Sakagu, achi and director Yoshinori Kitase originally intended it to take place in real-world New York City.
That changed everything for me, and gave me a new path to go down in my search for answers. Actually, I should say it showed me a rabbit hole of research which I promptly fell head-first into.
After looking into a real-world equivalent of Midgar, I discovered a related theory: that the “FFVII” map is simply a map of Earth turned upside down. This is what it looks like untouched:
I fired up Photoshop and flipped the image 180 degrees to discover… hey, it really does look like that. We have Midgar being in eastern North America, Europe’s on there, as it what looks like Africa, and definitely Japan. Even the Hawaiian islands.
What really clinched this theory for me was the placement of Wutai, a location that looks like feudal Japan in the game. Lo and behold, it’s right there on the land mass that looks like Japan.
It was Midgar’s location, though, along with the already established NYC connection that led me to decide to place it there. I used a fan-created Midgar Mass Transit System (MMTS) station map to further pinpoint Sector 5, the area of Midgar that Aerith’s house was in.
I narrowed it down to the southwest portion of Manhattan (Tribeca to be exact). This even fits with Midgar’s Little Wutai, which could have a real-world equivalent in Manhattan’s Chinatown.
The Tribeca area also has Church Street running through it, fitting since Aerith spends a lot of time at the church in Sector 5, and St. Paul’s is right by the area I decided on.
Confident of my choice of location, I could proceed with my final sub-quest.
Price Per Square(soft) Foot
Now that I had a location (Tribeca), I needed to track down some properties of comparable size in the area to get my price per square foot. This proved reasonable easy, and as I alluded to early they were all apartments. They were all also fittingly expensive given the location.
How expensive? Well, after averaging the size and cost of four roughly 1,000 square foot apartments in Tribeca together, I arrived at an average price per square foot of $1,604.
That’s not too far off from the $1,630 per square foot I got for my Ghostbusters firehouse evaluation, another famous property also located in Tribeca. With that, I had everything I needed to complete my quest.
Limit Breaking It Down
Like tracking HP in a particularly intense boss fight, I needed some math to make sense of what I’d found. This meant multiplying the size of Aerith’s house (1,176 square feet) by the price per square foot ($1,604) to arrive at a final price of $1,886,304—a particularly shocking number after looking at the interior of her home above, wouldn’t you agree?
Now, this price doesn’t include any possessions or land, and I can’t even begin to calculate how much it would cost to purchase meteor strike insurance for the place. I did, however, work out how much it would cost in “FFVII” currency: 37,726,080 Gil (at a fan-theorized $0.05 per Gil).
That’s enough to buy 125,752 Phoenix Downs in “FFVII”, an item that you’d need to revive people after telling them this price. Or you could get 75,452 tents, which seem like a much more achievable housing goal, at least in the current NYC real estate market.