Housing Affordability in Asia

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


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Map of how affordable it is to buy a home in Asia.

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How expensive is it to buy real estate around Asia? I could give you the average price of an average home in each Asian city, but that wouldn’t be totally fair. Salaries are not the same throughout Asia. 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 Tokyo 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 13.8 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 Damascus, where it would take basically a life-time to buy a home. Of course, this number isn’t completely fair, as Syria is in the middle of a war. The second most expensive city, is Tehran, where it’ll take you 52.7 annual family salaries to afford a home. Hong Kong is in third place, where it takes 45.7 local family salaries to buy a home. When looking at this number, it does make sense why so many people in Hong Kong live in tiny studio apartments. Housing is simply unaffordable.

Overall, Asia has some of the most expensive real estate markets in the world. The global top 20 consists of 17 Asian cities.

We can also see that Chinese cities are quite well-represented in the top half. In most major Chinese cities, it takes more than 20 or even 40 annual family salaries to afford a home. Despite so many vacant apartments in China, the real estate boom/bubble keeps growing. Making it more and more difficult for young Chinese to own a home.

The more affordable real estate can be found in parts of the Middle East and in India. The most affordable city on this map is Riyadh, where a median sized apartment costs only 2.7 median annual family salaries. In second place is another Saudi Arabian city, Jeddah (3.1). Sharjah in the UAE is in 3rd place (4.3).

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