I currently live in a neighborhood of mostly ~$1-million homes. Many of the residents are retired people who originally bought their houses in the 1960s for ~$50k. This probably explains why all the on-sale items at the supermarket get sold out right away, and why there's several thrift stores in town.
For what it's worth, my parents got here with dedicated saving: anywhere between $30k-$100k per year for the last two decades. Our investments have performed miserably, and we didn't own a home going into the housing bubble either. It can be done, but it's a lot of hard work.