New Yrok City Source: Realtor.com.

(Want to learn more? Be sure to check out what $1 million will buy you in Dallas, Phoenix, Miami, and San Francisco!)

Real estate can be a tricky business. A million bucks in one city doesn't necessarily equal a million bucks somewhere else. New York City would fall into that "somewhere else" category.

Big Apple prices for a pretty small apartment
Take this 830-square-foot town home in Brooklyn. Two bedrooms and two full baths are squeezed into a two-floor layout designed to maximize the obviously limited space. The home is nicely appointed with all the latest amenities and the view is amazing (see photo above). 

Even so, it's shocking to see the current asking price at $1.025 million. That's $1,235 per square foot.

The Big Apple, though, is a huge and diverse city. From borough to borough and even block to block, real estate valuations can swing wildly -- but even considering that, New York City commands far higher prices than the typical U.S. city.

This one-bedroom, one-bath modern apartment on Wall Street is about 25% larger than the Brooklyn apartment mentioned above, and the asking price is $30,000 lower. The price works out to $944 per square foot, 24% cheaper than the Brooklyn comparison property on a square-foot basis. This apartment building also features a few extra amenities, including a gym.

That's a little bit more bang for your buck, but it's still $944 per square foot!

Taking a broader view of the New York City market
For those looking at purchasing a home in New York City, the broader economic data shows great news on the one hand, and a disappointing reality on the other.

Case-Shiller Home Price Index: New York, NY Chart

Case-Shiller Home Price Index: New York, NY data by YCharts.

First of all, the New York City area real estate market has performed quite well over the past 10 years. The Case-Shiller Home Price Index for the city has consistently outperformed other major U.S. metro areas since the real estate bubble imploded. That means home prices did not fall quite as far as those in Miami, Phoenix, or elsewhere. That's the good news for homeowners in NYC.

However, other major metropolitan areas have rebounded much more strongly since 2012. As the chart below demonstrates, the Case-Shiller 20-City Composite Home Price Index is more than double the price appreciation in New York City. 

Case-Shiller Home Price Index: New York, NY Chart

Case-Shiller Home Price Index: New York, NY data by YCharts.

Bringing the data together
So what do you get when you buy property in New York City? More than anything else, you get stability. The nation's most populous city has a robust real estate market, with plenty of demand driving prices above national averages and keeping them there when problems arise in the general real estate market.

Sure, you might have to fork over $1 million or more just to buy a tiny one-bedroom apartment, but at least you can rest easy knowing your equity in the home is more stable than if you put your hard-earned dollars into a home in another market.

Jay Jenkins has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Goldman Sachs. The Motley Fool owns shares of JPMorgan Chase. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.