I came across a fun, informative, and interactive chart today at Trulia
The chart takes various factors, such as rent cost, purchase price, foreclosure rates, etc and uses an algorithm to determine if in the long term it is better to purchase or rent. Unsurprisingly, San Francisco is a "rent" suggestion, but I surprised my old stomping ground of Fort Worth was one position away from Los Angeles (although the cutoff from "buy" to "rent" occurs between those two positions.
As much as I love living in the Bay Area, sometimes I tempt/tease/depress myself by looking at other cities on charts like these and realize that what we pay in rent for a relatively small apartment could buy us an extravagant, large house in another metro area. *sigh*
Being the optimist, I like to think that if we ever do buy a place and then sell it and move out of state we will then live like royalty.
Until then, I will (ab)use my location in the Bay Area to the fullest and enjoy the multiple luxuries the area provides! Plus, animation studios are here! Woohoo!