Calculating the real life value of the Animal Crossing house [PART 1]

Join me on an epic journey filled with converting currencies, real-estate market and… humanoid animals?

[Disclaimer: the following article includes big amount of me struggling with maths. If you do not like math, struggling, or both- I reccommend moving onto another article that features less numbers]
[Disclaimer 2: somewhere later in this article I will use Polish currency known as PLN or Złoty (zł)]

Playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons you may have thought “wow, I’d love to own a house just like the one I have in the game!” (and if you haven’t, please think that now, just for the sake of this article). But have you ever wondered how much that would really cost? Worry not! I’m here to research, count and wreck your dreams somewhere along the way.

How many Bells (in-game currency) are needed to upgrade our ACNH house to the maximum

At first, Tom Nook gives you a tent. Well, he “gives” it to you, aka that greedy capitalist raccoon makes you pay for it. I won’t include that though, partly because a tent is not really a house, and partly because I’m too lazy to think about Nook Miles’ value.

Upgrade 0:
The cost of getting an actual house is 98 000 Bells. It leaves you with a one room house. Its size is 6 x 6 grids

Upgrade 1:
The first upgrade of an already existing house costs 198 000 Bells. It leaves your room with a 8 x 8 grids size, which means you add 28 grids to your house

Upgrade 2:
Costs 348 000 Bells. Adds a 6 x 6 backroom to your house

Upgrade 3:
Costs 548 000 Bells. Adds a 6 x 6 room to your house

Update 4:
Costs 758 000 Bells. Adds a 6 x 6 room to your house

Update 5:
Costs 1 248 000 Bells. Adds a second floor. Its size is 10 x 6 grids

Update 6:
Costs 2 498 000 Bells. Adds a 10 x 6 basement

After all of those upgrades you are left with a six room house (including the basement) with the total area of 292 square grids. It comes with a modest price of 5 696 000 Bells

Converting Bells to real currencies

Now that we have calculated the price in Bells, we simple convert it to a real currency, right? Well technically yes, but it’s not really that easy. You see, no one really knows how much one Bell is worth

According to ACNL fandom wiki, one Bell is equivalent to one Japanese Yen, which means that
1 USD = [about] 100 Bells

Then there’s Mayor Cinammon from Animal Crossing Amino, who came up with the following formula:
Bell price = b
b(b * .00030303) = USD price
By that standard,
1 USD = 57 Bells
[Big shoutout to them, that was some impressive shirt math]

At the same time, there’s The Courier, saying that Bells are too inconsistent to give an exact conversion

[Note: There’s a website saying that 1 USD equals 1 million bells, but I’m not going to look through those calculations, as they are only useful for the madlads trying to get rich in real life from abusing imaginary stock market from a kids game]

As you can see, many have tried. Did any of them succeed?
The answer is both yes and no. Or rather: maybe and no. Why? Well, it’s because most of those calculations date back to New Leaf and Wild Life. Meanwhile I jumped on the Animal Crossing bandwagon with the release of New Horizons, like the basic teen I am. But there’s one thing I can say for sure: if someone really succeeded, the sources wouldn’t have such different results, and there would probably be some epic Bells to USD converter website by now. So for the sake of making this article longer, I’ll come up with a brand new, up-to-date formula for Bells exchange, using my basic math skills and no knowledge regarding economy.

To come up with such a formula, I’ll need to find a few prices that are rather consistent both in game and in real life.

For this part, I’ll use a website called VillagerDB. It has a neat option of making item lists, which helped me avoid turning my game on (and avoid my animal neighbours’ disappointment regarding my two months long absense)

But what prices are consitent? We all know that even a plain white T-shirt can cost a lot if it’s, let’s say, made by Gucci. Or other brand I don’t even know the name of. You get the idea

So I logged on the website to make an epic list of items, that have relatively consistent real life prices. And boy oh boy let me tell you something: it was HARD.

Here’s the list if you’d like to check what random items I threw in there :)

I decided to go with Nintendo related items first. In the game there are three such items:
-Classic nintendo switch
-Nintendo switch ACNH edition
-Ring-con

In-game prices for those items:

Classic nintendo switch: 29 980 Bells

ACNH edition: 35 960 Bells

Ring-con: 4 950 Bells

Now, we need to find real life prices for those items. I’ll use american dollars and japanese yen, in order to check if the yen equivalent theory is true

I’ll compare MSRP (Manufacturer’s suggested retail price) from official nintendo site (USD) with shop prices from Amazon (USD) and then with Japanese prices from nintendo’s japanese site. I’ll also include average price based on American Amazon offers

Classic Nintendo Switch:
MSRP: $ 399.99
Shop prices: from $309.99 to $399.99
Average of shop prices: $367.80
Yen price: 27 478 Yen

Okay so here’s an interesting thing: as much as I understand, on Japanese nintendo website you can actually buy classic Nintendo Switch console without the dock. I used its price, since there’s no hint of the in-game console having a dock (while the ACNH edition clearly has one)

Nintendo Switch ACNH Edition:
MSRP: $399.99
Shop prices: from $389.99 to $489.99
Average of shop prices: $424.99
Yen price: 39 556 Yen

Ring-con:
MSRP: $79.99
Shop prices: from $49.99 to $89.99
Average of shop prices: $65.74
Yen price: 8 778 Yen

[At this point my brain gave up and I had to take a break and rethink my life choices]

Okay, let’s take this slow. First let’s do all the Yen related calculations to see if the “Bells = Yen” theory is anywhere near the truth
To do so, I’ll take the Bells prices of each item and compare them to the Yen prices

Case 1:
29 980 Bells = 27 478 Yen

Case 2:
35 960 Bells = 39 556 Yen

Case 3:
4 950 Bells = 8 778 Yen

At the first glance it doesn’t quite work- in case 1 Yen is worth more, while in the other two cases it’s the other way around. Something isn’t right, but doing quick maths should make it clear:

Case 1:
29 980 b = 27 478 y
1 yen = 1.09 bells

Case 2:
35 960 b = 39 556 y
1 bell = 1.10 yen

Case 3:
At this point I realized what I did wrong: I found the price for a Ring-con sold together with the game, Ring-con adventure. We have no evidence to support the idea of the in-game Ring-con having the game included. So I googled. And I googled. And lo and behold! I found out about the following information:
In Japan, Ring-Con is sold separately. What price? EXACTLY 4 950 YENS

In this case,
4 950 bells = 4 950 yen , aka
1 bell = 1 yen

If we round up the other results, we’ll get something around 1 in each case. Which proves the bells = yens theory true.

Surprisingly, it wasn’t easy for me to accept that result. Does it mean the forum elders were right? Does it mean that all the USD MSRP research was pointless? Does it mean my boyfriend researched Animal Crossing mountain bike’s real life equivalent for nothing?
[ He did some impressive research, I could write a separate article about the in-game bike based only on the info he sent me]

I really wanted to be the one. The one that solves the mystery of Bells exchange rate, and prove the old theories wrong. But all I did was provide more proof. So let’s say it once again, for the people in the back:

1 Bell equals to (roughly) 1 Yen

It means the following:
1 Yen = 1 Bell
1 USD = 105.58 Bells*
1 PLN = 28.32 Bells*

*both according to exchange rates from the 8th of Febryary 2021

So the price for fully upgraded acnh house was:
5 696 000 Bells
Which, of course, equals to:
5 696 000 Yen
about $54 129.94
about 201 312.70 PLN

And we could just stop here, right? I could just tell you “oh hey, to get a house like the one in animal crossing, you’ll need about54 129 american dollars. Enjoy”. Of course I could. But I strive for perfection. And you know what we’re missing?

R E A L I S M

So first I thought it would be fun to calculate a real life property value of the house in the game.
[Note to self: This is actually the true opposite of fun. A goddamn antonym]

Warning: this segment might be a bit clunky, as I know little to no real-estate related vocabulary

Ha, you see what I did there? And by “there” I mean 2 or 3 segments ago in this monstrosity of an article. For those who aren’t me and will be confused by what “there” I’m referrencing: I’m talking about the time I briefly wrote about the grid size of each room in the house upgrades description. You see, area of the house is apparently what happens the most.

Buckle up gamers and get ready to joing me on my epic adventure to real-estate valuation!

Fortunately, I won’t be as clueless on this journey as I am during my high school lessons. In fact, it won’t even be a real adventure, but more like letting your teacher give you a lif (I’m not good at metaphors but stick with me). All thanks to something I just found- a real estate valuation calculator

But before I get to the fun part, such as checking “less vacancy” (whatever that means) etc. I need to suffer through one more awful “basic math and not-so-basic research” problem. As you may have guessed, there isn’t really a calculator that usesn grid as a size unit.

To find out the size of the animal crossing grid I “real life size of animal crossing grid”. You know, like a fool. I expected some explicit answer in centimeters, but as always I have to do everything myself. Disappointed but not surprised. To my American friends reading this: yes, I’ll use meters and centimeters instead of whatever “football fields per McDonalds” units of measurement you have there

Anyways. During my quick google search I found something quite interesting. You see, there’s an article on Animal Crossing wiki about segments of the map called acres. In Animal Crossing New Horizons the map consists of 42 acres (6 x 7) each of those acres the size of “16 x 16 spaces”. Those “spaces” are most definitely just our dearest grids

But are those in-game acres the same as real acres? Or did developers just use it as a funky sounding name? There’s only one way to find out- math, math and more maths

Calculating Acres

Real life acres:
1 ac = 4 046.856 m²

We’re presented with a 16 x 16 grids square called an acre

If we assume it’s the same as a real life acre, it means its area is equal to a * b = 4 046.856 m²

Now, if I’m thinking correctly you can do it in two ways:

Number 1:
√4046.859m² = length of one side
length of one side / 16 = length of one side of a small square (grid)

Number 2:
16x * 16x = 4046.856

Which are literally the same thing but I enjoy showing off my basic math skills

Okay so:
Area = a * b = 4046.856
a = b
One side = √Area = √4046.856
One side = 63.6149039141 [m]
One side rounded up = 64 m
One small side = 64/16 = 4 [m]

One grid is equal to 4 m x 4 m, which doesn’t sound that ridiculous… YET.
It may even sound a bit reasonable, especially after seeing all that 4046.856 stuff. But hear me out: in this godforsaken reality the Ironwood Bed is 4 meters wide and 8 meters long. Which is about as long as a London double-decker. Pretty big for a bed, not gonna lie

Now that we know that an in-game acre isn’t the same as a real acre, it’s time to make another item list, this time with consistent sizes! It’ll be a bit trickier though, cause not everything in the game is a real-size functioning object. A good example for this is the rocket. We don’t quite know how big the villager is, but the rocket is pretty much the same size as them. It would defeat the object’s purpose, which allows me to say: it’s more of a model than anything else

Here’s the list. It’s a chaotic mess but I tried my best

After a while I found a perfect piece of furniture needed for the calculations. But…. I’ll have to open my game and experience my villagers’ anger

But well oh well, what wouldn’t I do for science. I’m currently contemplating whether I should apologize to Katt for my absense. Maybe it’ll be better if I just avoid her for now

I open the game and am greeted with Isabelle’s monologue. She’s talking about her favourite TV show. It’s another day on Bhutan but for the first time in months, I’m here too

I walk out of my house. “I need to be quick and stealthy” — I think to myself, but as I’m passing by my town’s center I see her standing there. It’s Katt. I walk up to her and decide to start a chat. I prepare for the worst but to my surprise, she’s not mad. She doesn’t make me feel guilty. She simply missed me. She instantly greets me with my nickname- a sign of our friendship. I feel like I’m home

I spend some time with Katt and my other friends. We run around, catch bugs and finish the day with stargazing. I even get to see a shooting star. I quickly press A to make a wish. I know you’re not supposed to share those wishes, but would you like to know mine? You see, I wished for….

ANSWERS. Enough fooling around. I need answers. I crave them. I need to know how much an animal crossing house would cost in USD. I need to enlighten humanity with this very needed knowledge.
I need to measure stuff. And the best place to do so? Harv’s island

Here’s me in the process of measuring a bed. Very complicated stuff, you wouldn’t understand

Wooden Simple Bed. It taked up roughly all the space of the grids it’s in- 1 x 2 grids. Now, why I chose it: after googling the vague phrase “size of bed” I’m hit with some pretty satisfying results

According to google, the most popular mattress lengths are range from ~190 cm to ~205 cm. They both round up to about 200 cm, which is equal to 2 meters

So based on those calculations:
2 grids = 2 m , aka
1 grid = 1 m

For some reason my complicated calculations and thoughts keep leading to simple “1 = 1” results. I don’t know why it’s happening to me, and I don’t know whether I should be satisfied or angry

Total Meterage

But back to the topic. Now we’re going to calculate area of each room, and since we’ve established that 1 grid = 1 meter, then we won’t have to do any additional counting, just adding it up to get the total square meterae

First room: 8 x 8 = 64 m²
Left room: 6 x 6 = 36 m²
Right room: 6 x 6 = 36 m²
Back room: 6 x 6 = 36 m²
Second floor: 6 x 10 = 60 m²
Basement: 6 x 10 = 60 m²

Drawing break, aka a rare sighting of a paper version of this article. It took 34 a5 pages

Now before we add this stuff up, here’s what we need to think about:
- do we count staircases
- do we count the basement

It’s an interesting aspect and it’s a bit different in every country. For this segment I’ll use Polish law. I’ll do this for one simple reason:
valuation calculators. The ones in English are WAY too complicated for me. I know this may cause some inaccuracies, but I just can’t do it in a different way :( If there’s anyone who understands American real-estate market please contact me, so we can do a follow-up to this article

But to make up for this inconvinience, I’ll use a few different Polish calculators like that, to check if the results are similar

Okay for starters, we count total meterage

Total meterage with the basement: 292 m²
Total meterage without the basement: 232 m²

According to the Internet, a 120–150 m² house would be enough for a family of four, so both with and without the basement the house is pretty much like a mansion. It’s kinda funny to think that the unknown-age non-anatomical character that doesn’t even have fingers has a bigger home than I’ll ever have

Anyways. In Polish law both basements and staircases aren’t included in the total meterage, so we won’t have to worry about that . In this case the total meterage is 232 m²

Here are examples of aspects we have to discuss to fill the valuation calculator:
- total meterage
- number of rooms
- number of floors
- year of construction
- does it have parking area?
- does it have an elevator?
- does it have a balcony?
- does it have a basement?
- localization

The last aspect is the hardest to find the answer to, and if I tried to find a real life equivalent of the island, the article would be so long and boring that you would all fall asleep. Which would objectively make it a bad text, but a great alternative for counting sheep.

I’ve checked at least 7 real-estate calculators like that, and they all need that damned localization. Localization that I’m naturally unable to give

Well at this point I’m so far in the swamp that is this pointless monologue, that I can’t stop. Gamers, Gamerettes and everyone in between; it’s time to change the title. Brace yourselves…

Julian Gilbert Nizio develops a brand new real-estate valuation calculator for the sole purpose of writing an animal crossing article

But my dear friends, if you somehow got to this point of this text I have good news for you: you can turn off your computer and sit back. I would reccommend making yourself a cup of hot tea. Cause you see, I don’t want to exhaust both you and myself here, so I divided this article in two parts (the next one will be published…. soon). The second part will include less maths, so hopefully it’ll be more interesting.

This is Julian Gilbert Nizio. Signing off

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Julian Gilbert Nizio

Julian Gilbert Nizio

16 yo student from Poland writing pointless articles in his free time