Housing Affordability in the US and Canada

How expensive is it to buy a home compared to local salaries?


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Map of how affordable it is to buy a home in the US and Canada.

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How expensive is it to buy real estate the US and Canada? I could give you the average price of an average home in each city, but that wouldn’t be totally fair. Salaries are not the same throughout the US and Canada. Numbeo’s Property Price Index, gives you a much more realistic view of the affordability of real estate in each city. The index looks at how many annual median family salaries (1.5 full-time salary) it takes to purchase a median sized apartment. So, if you live in Toronto and you are able to save 100% of your disposable income (which of course is rarely the case as we still need to pay the rent, pay for food etc.) it would take you 11 years until you have saved enough to buy a median sized apartment without a mortgage. Of course, almost no one does that, as it is much better to just take a mortgage, but you get the point. The Price to Income Ratio of the Property Price Index shows us how expensive real estate in a city is, measured in years of a local family salary.

The most expensive city for buying real estate is Naples (FL), where it would take 17 annual family salaries to buy a home. Naples ranks 59th globally. The second most expensive city, is Bellingham (WA), where it’ll take you 12.4 annual family salaries to afford a home. Queens (NY) is in third place, where it takes 12.2 local family salaries to buy a home. In fourth place is the highest-ranking Canadian city, Vancouver, where it takes 11.6 annual family salaries.

Canada and the US, but in particular the US, has some of the most affordable real estate in the world. 480 cities worldwide are included in this index. The bottom 30 of this index are all American cities.

The more affordable real estate can be found in the Mid-West and (Deep) South of the US. The most affordable city on this map is Memphis (TN), where a median sized apartment costs only 1.2 median annual family salaries. In second place Detroit (MI) (3.1). Cleveland (OH) is in 3rd place (4.3). The most affordable Canadian city is Calgary (3.6).

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