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Ranked: The World’s Least Affordable Cities to Buy a Home


Least Affordable Housing Markets

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The Briefing

  • For the 10th year in a row, Hong Kong is the world’s least affordable housing market
  • The U.S. is home to a mixture of the most and least affordable housing markets

Ranked: The World’s Least Affordable Cities to Buy a Home

In certain parts of the world, housing prices have risen much faster than household incomes, making home ownership increasingly more difficult for the average Joe.

Using data from Demographia published in 2020, this graphic looks at some of the world’s most expensive housing markets.

The Least Affordable Housing Markets

It’s worth noting that this data looks at housing affordability specifically for middle-income earners. While it’s far from globally exhaustive, it measures affordability in 309 major metropolitan areas across Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Ireland, New Zealand, Singapore, the U.S., and the UK.

In this study, a city’s affordability is calculated by taking its median housing price and dividing it by the median household income.

  • Moderately Unaffordable: 3.1 to 4.0
  • Seriously Unaffordable: 4.1 to 5.0
  • Severely Unaffordable: 5.1+

All the cities on this graphic classify as severely unaffordable. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Hong Kong is the most unaffordable housing market—scoring 20.8 to take the top spot.

Housing Market Country Score
Hong Kong 🇨🇳 China 20.8
Vancouver, BC 🇨🇦 Canada 11.9
Sydney, NSW 🇦🇺 Australia 11.0
Melbourne, VIC 🇦🇺 Australia 9.5
Los Angeles, CA 🇺🇸 United States 9.0
Auckland 🇳🇿 New Zealand 8.6
Toronto, ON 🇨🇦 Canada 8.6
San Jose, CA 🇺🇸 United States 8.5
San Francisco, CA 🇺🇸 United States 8.4
London (Greater London Authority) 🇬🇧 United Kingdom 8.2
Honolulu, HI 🇺🇸 United States 8.0
San Diego, CA 🇺🇸 United States 7.3
Adelaide, SA 🇦🇺 Australia 6.9
Bournemouth & Dorsett 🇬🇧 United Kingdom 6.9

Home to 7.5 million people, Hong Kong has ranked as the world’s least affordable city for 10 consecutive years. Because of its steep housing prices, nano apartments have risen in popularity over the last decade.

The Most Affordable Housing Markets

Three of the most expensive housing markets are in America, but at the same time, the country also contains some of the most affordable markets in the eight-country study, too.

In fact, the top 10 most affordable cities are all in America:

City Country Score
Rochester, NY 🇺🇸 United States 2.5
Cleveland, OH 🇺🇸 United States 2.7
Oklahoma City, OK 🇺🇸 United States 2.7
Buffalo, NY 🇺🇸 United States 2.8
Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN 🇺🇸 United States 2.8
Pittsburgh, PA 🇺🇸 United States 2.8
St. Louis, MO-IL 🇺🇸 United States 2.8
Hartford, CT 🇺🇸 United States 2.9
Indianapolis. IN 🇺🇸 United States 2.9
Tulsa, OK 🇺🇸 United States 3.0

Keep in mind, these figures are from Q3’2019. Considering the pandemic-induced suburban shuffle that’s been going on in some of America’s major housing markets, this list could look a bit different in Demographia’s next report.

>>Like this? Then you might like this article on The 10 Most Expensive Cities in the World

Where does this data come from?

Source: Demographia
Details: Affordability score is calculated by taking a city’s median housing price and dividing it by the median household income. Anything over 5.1 is considered severely unaffordable
Notes: Data includes 309 metropolitan markets across eight countries, including Australia, Canada, the U.K., and the U.S., as of the third quarter of 2019

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