This time of year, people start asking important questions about the holiday season. If you’re particularly curious, you’ll find yourself pondering the mechanics of Christmas. How does Santa Claus make it around the world so quickly? What size would his sled actually need to be?
Around the Movoto Real Estate office, we ask the same questions (currently, we are debating what size roof would be the most optimal for Santa to land on). With this in mind, we decided to tackle the rotund red man’s housing situation.
For being near the middle of nowhere, Santa’s house is worth a pretty penny. How much money is that? The Movoto bloggers estimate Santa Claus’s house would cost $536,000—or about $467 per square foot.
To put this in perspective, Santa’s home has a price per square foot that’s in line with some of the most expensive places to live in the United States. For example, the median list price of a home in sunny Los Angeles is only $368 per square foot.
If you’re interested in learning how we came up with the cost of Santa’s digs, continue on. We’ll also tackle another hot question: How many elves does Santa have?
How’d We Do It?
As with our previous articles, we needed to know several things to put a price to Kris Kringle’s nest—all of which turned out to be more difficult than we expected. Fortunately, we persevered, thanks to the folks at the Nunavut Housing Corporation.
To come up with our price tag, we needed to know the house’s:
In both cases we needed to do some estimations and deductions. First up, location, which helps explain why Santa’s house—more or less a crash-pad for Kringle and his old lady—has a half-a-million-dollar price tag.
Baby, It’s Cold Outside. Really, Really, Cold
Where does Old Saint Nick hang his fuzzy red hat? If you believe the folklore, Santa hails from the North Pole. This left the Movoto bloggers with two locations where we could place Santa’s den.
- The actual North Pole
- North Pole, Alaska
As much as we would like to say that the jolly fat man resides in Alaska—it didn’t sit right with us. Instead, we went with the actual North Pole. Little did we know this small decision would lead to a crash course in Canadian history.
North Pole—Not Only is It Cold, It’s Wet
You should dispel any preconceived thoughts you have about the North Pole. Santa doesn’t live there. There is no place for Santa to build his house. The North Pole—the real North Pole—is situated in the middle of the Arctic Ocean, which is filled with constantly shifting sea ice.
So placing Santa’s home in the actual North Pole was out of the question.
Where did we turn?
The closest permanently inhabited place near the North Pole is Alert in the Qikiqtaaluk Region, Nunavut, Canada. Unfortunately, it is a military base, which makes it difficult to reach—not
that most of these locations won’t be difficult to reach.
There were several problems with choosing Alert. The first was it is not permanently inhabited by any significant number of people. The latest Canadian census tallied just five permanent residents. The second problem was the military base was not a city or town—this would make it difficult to find a comparable property to base our figures on.
While Alert–named after the HMS Alert–piqued our interest (what are those five people doing?), we shipped off to another location.
Our search led us to Grise Fiord, a tiny (145 people tiny) hamlet, also in the Qikiqtaaluk Region. This small town comes with the distinction of being the northernmost civilian settlement in Canada, and our pick for the location of Santa’s house.
Grise Fiord, Santa’s Stomping Grounds
Before we tell you how we came up with the cost, you’ll need some background on Grise Fiord. According to Wikipedia, the settlement was created in 1953, in part to assert sovereignty in the High Arctic during the Cold War. (You can read more here.)
Eight Inuit families were relocated to the area after being promised houses and game. You can imagine the rest of the story. The families, which initially were told they could leave after a year, were forced to stay. Thus was born Grise Fiord.
One outcome from the decision to keep the families in Grise Fiord is that many of the homes in the small community are built by the government. We used the price and size of these houses to figure out how much Santa’s shack would cost.
According to Curtis Allaby, budget analyst for the Nunavut Housing Corporation, it costs $536,000 to build a 1,200 square foot single-family dwelling. Why so much? We have no direct confirmation from the NHC, but there are no highways to Grise Fiord. The hamlet is attached to the outside world by the Grise Fiord Airport. With such a difficult trek, prices were bound to increase.
How Much Does Santa Claus’ House Cost?
As far as we know, Mr. and Mrs. Kringle don’t have kids—and if they did they’ve moved out. This meant that Santa’s house wouldn’t be large. Our assumption was that 1,200 square feet—the same size of homes built by the Canadian government—would be more than adequate. This gave us our price tag.
Santa’s house would cost $536,000.
This is the part of the story where you throw snowballs at us. You are asking yourself: What about the elves?
We didn’t forget!
Small House, Big Campus
Santa’s house sits on a campus, much like Google or any other large company. We like to think of it as Christmas Campus, but it’s been known to be called Christmas Town. Whichever you prefer works nicely.
When the costs of the various parts of the campus are tabulated, things start getting complicated. What is the cost of this campus? A lot. Like $11.7 billion a lot. This figure doesn’t even factor in the reindeer.
Here is what would be in Christmas Campus:
- A Workshop
- Elf Houses
- A Warehouse
- Santa’s House
This Place is Overrun with Elves
To figure out a significant portion of our calculations, we needed to know how many elves Santa has under his employ.
We tackled this head-scratching question by the most rational way possible. We figured out how many children celebrate Christmas. After this we calculated how many toys a magic elf could reasonably make per hour.
It turns out the number is five. Yes, it’s a little arbitrary. We’ll explain.
According to The Atlantic, 526,000,000 Christian children under the age of 14 celebrate Christmas. We then assumed that Santa gives one present to each child (regardless of being on the naughty or nice list).
This means it would take 15,000 elves working 20 hours a day for 364 days a year to create enough presents for all the kids. In other words, it is 5 presents per hour per elf. Santa’s working the little guys hard.
If you’re interested in the campus, here’s a breakdown of its main parts.
This is where Santa’s elves build all those Christmas toys. Movoto assumed that Santa would have all his elves working at once—on conveyer belts. Our best guess is this workshop, which would be shaped like a dumbbell and include storage areas.
- Square Footage: 153,736
- The cost: $71,794,479
If Santa’s elves manage some time off (that sweet, sweet, one full day a year) they can spend it in a relatively plush pad—at least for elf standards. We figured Santa was in a giving mood when he authorized the construction of one small home for each of his elves.
- Square Feet: 600
- Cost Per Home: $280,200
- Cost For Elf Housing: $4,203,000,000
Santa has got to store those presents before his big day. This means he’ll need one incredibly large warehouse.
We came up with the size of our warehouse by first finding the volume of a box (which would hold a present) and then multiplying this by the number of children Santa needed to visit. Essentially, this gave us a large impenetrable rectangle. Elves had to actually maneuver the warehouse, so we added room for various four-feet-wide aisles.
- Square Feet:15,963,081
- Cost: $7,454,758,650
Wrap It Up, Put a Bow on Top
What’s the takeaway? Santa spent a pretty penny for his privacy, which is understandable, as the jolly fat man would likely be swarmed if he lived in a bigger city. It also doesn’t hurt that with so few distractions his elves will have little to do but concentrate on pumping out those Christmas gifts.
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Who is Movoto Real Estate, you might ask? Movoto is an online real estate brokerage based in San Mateo, CA. Our blog has been recognized for its unique approach to city-based research by major news organizations around the world such as Forbes and CBS News.