Ranked: These Are 10 of the World's Least Affordable Housing Markets
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Ranked: These Are 10 of the World’s Least Affordable Housing Markets

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Map looking at some of the expensive housing markets worldwide

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The Briefing

  • For the 12th year in a row, Hong Kong is the world’s least affordable housing market, according to Demographia’s ranking of 92 cities in select countries
  • Sydney, Australia moves up one spot from last year’s ranking to take second place

These Are 10 of the World’s Least Affordable Housing Markets

It’s become increasingly difficult for middle-class families to purchase a home over the last few years—and the global pandemic has only made things worse.

According to Demographia’s 2022 Housing Affordability Report, the number of housing markets around the world deemed “severely unaffordable” increased by 60% compared to 2019 (prior to the pandemic).

This graphic looks at some of the least affordable housing markets across the globe, relative to median household income. The report covers 92 different cities in eight nations: Australia, Canada, China, Ireland, New Zealand, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

The Least Affordable Housing Markets

Before diving in, it’s worth outlining the methodology used in this report, to help explain what’s classified as a severely unaffordable housing market.

To calculate affordability, a city’s median housing price and divided by its median household income. From there, a city is given a score:

  • A score of 5.1 or above is considered severely unaffordable
  • 4.1 to 5.0 is considered seriously unaffordable
  • 3.1 to 4.0 is considered moderately unaffordable

All the cities on this graphic are classified as severely unaffordable⁠—and, for the 12th year in a row, Hong Kong takes the top spot as the world’s most unaffordable housing market, with a score of 23.2.

Housing MarketNationScore
Hong Kong🇭🇰​ Hong Kong (SAR)23.2
Sydney, NSW🇦🇺​ Australia15.3
Vancouver, BC🇨🇦​ Canada13.3
San Jose, CA🇺🇸​ U.S.12.6
Melbourne, VIC🇦🇺​ Australia12.1
Honolulu, HI🇺🇸​ U.S.12.0
San Francisco, CA🇺🇸​ U.S.11.8
Auckland, AUK🇳🇿​ New Zealand11.2
Los Angeles, CA🇺🇸​ U.S.10.7
Toronto, ON🇨🇦​ Canada10.5

One reason for Hong Kong’s steep housing costs is its lack of supply, partly due to its lack of residential zoning—which only accounts for 7% of the region’s zoned land. For context, 75% of New York City’s land area is dedicated to residential housing.

Sydney moved up one spot this year, making it the second most expensive city to purchase a home on the list, with a score of 15.3. Besides Hong Kong, no other city has scored this high in the last 18 years this report has been released.

There are several theories for Sydney’s soaring housing rates, but industry expert Tom Forrest, CEO of Urban Taskforce Australia, boils it down to one fundamental issue in an interview with Australia Broker—supply isn’t keeping up with demand:

“Housing supply has been consistently not meeting demand in the Greater Sydney and across regional New South Wales…if you have supply consistently not meeting demand then the price will go up. That’s what happened and we’re seeing it in abundance.”Tom Forrest, CEO of Urban Taskforce Australia

The COVID-19 Impact

Middle-income earners were already feeling the squeeze prior to the global pandemic, but COVID-19 only exacerbated housing affordability issues.

As people began to work from home, high-income earners started to look for more spacious housing that wasn’t necessarily in the city center, driving up demand in suburban areas that were relatively affordable prior to the pandemic.

At the same time, supply chain issues and material costs impacted construction, which created a perfect storm that ultimately drove housing prices up.

But with interest rates rising and COVID-19 restrictions easing around the world, some experts are predicting a market cool down this year—at least in some parts of the world.

>>Like this? Then you might like this article: How Much Prime Real Estate Could You Buy for $1M?

Where does this data come from?

Source: Demographia
Details: The 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 92 metropolitan markets across eight countries; Australia, Canada, Ireland, Singapore, China, New Zealand, the U.K., and the U.S., as of the third quarter of 2021. Many European countries, along wth Japan, we excluded from the dataset, because information on median income was not readily available.

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Visualizing the Forest Funding Gap Relative to Emissions

Deforestation accounts for 10% of global CO2 emissions, yet receives just a small slice of climate funding. See why closing this funding gap is necessary to combat climate change. (Sponsored)

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The Briefing

  • Deforestation accounts for 10% of global carbon emissions
  • Deforestation receives just 2.2% of climate funding

The Forest Funding Gap

Climate change has been referred to as modern day civilization’s greatest challenge. And stopping deforestation is an important step in the battle to stop rising global temperatures. Yet, when you look at the amount of climate funding earmarked for deforestation, something doesn’t add up.

This graphic from The LEAF Coalition looks at the state of global deforestation and compares how much climate funding it receives relative to its global CO2 emissions.

Deforestation’s Role in Global Emissions

Protecting our forests and protecting the climate are one in the same. In fact, the data reveals that tropical deforestation accounts for 10% of global CO2 emissions.

What’s more, these levels of emissions exceed that of all individual countries except for the U.S. and China. Despite this, climate funding towards deforestation only accounts for $14 billion of the over $618 billion available, representing a small 2.2% slice of the total.

This is especially problematic when considering a forest’s carbon stock and carbon sequestration capabilities. Here’s how different forests across the globe compare when looking at gigatonnes of carbon stock.

EcosystemEstimated Carbon Stock (Gt)Annual Loss Rate
Tropical moist forests 295 Gt0.45%
Boreal forests283 Gt0.18%
Temperate broadleaf forests133 Gt0.35%
Temperate conifer forests66 Gt0.28%
Tropical dry forests14 Gt0.58%
Mangroves7.3Gt0.13%

A carbon stock or carbon pool refers to a system that can store carbon and take it out of the atmosphere. Forests are used to offset plenty of carbon emissions, and by some estimates, it would cost $25 billion for additional carbon offsets to match and compensate for unabated emissions.

This is crucial because unabated emissions are those who’s harm are not reduced from carbon reduction methods. While this may sound like a lot, it’s equivalent to just 1.5% of the profits from Fortune Global 500 companies.

Altogether, approximately 30% of global emissions are absorbed by forests each year. Despite this, 3.75 million hectares of tropical primary rainforest were lost in 2021, equivalent to 600 football pitches per hour.

Turning The Page

It’s practically impossible to effectively tackle climate change without addressing deforestation. The broader agriculture, forestry and other land use category (which includes deforestation) accounts for 21% of all global CO2 emissions.

Swift action is required in order to slow deforestation and decelerate rising average temperatures. See how The LEAF Coalition, a public-private initiative, is accelerating climate action by providing results-based finance to countries committed to protecting tropical forests.

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The Benefits of Reducing Methane Emissions

Methane emissions contribute to over half of net global warming. Where do the greatest opportunities lie for methane abatement?

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The Briefing

  • Almost half of net global warming comes from methane emissions—but only 2% of all climate financing goes towards its reduction.
  • By 2030, 45% of anthropogenic methane emissions can be reduced with available, targeted solutions combined with additional measures that are aligned with development goals.

The Benefits of Reducing Methane Emissions

Methane is highly potent, capturing 84 times more heat than CO₂ in its first 20 years in the atmosphere.

In spite of these dangers, methane abatement receives a fraction of all climate financing. Based on an analysis from the Climate Policy Initiative, $110 billion in funding is needed annually, or about tenfold the amount spent today.

This infographic sponsored by Carbon Streaming Corporation looks at the benefits of mitigating methane emissions across key sectors.

The Benefits of Reducing Methane Emissions

The risk of methane emissions is substantial: it has contributed to nearly half of net global warming.

The good news is that future emissions can be cut significantly. Methane solutions that are currently available, combined with additional measures that target priority development goals, can cut 45% of human-caused methane emissions by 2030, equivalent to about 180 million tonnes per year (Mt/yr).

This translates into 0.28°C in avoided warming between 2040 and 2070 along with 255,000 premature deaths being avoided due to rising ozone concentrations.

SectorAvoided Warming
2040 - 2070
Avoided Premature Deaths
due to Ozone Per Year
Avoided Crop Losses
Agriculture0.04°C40,0004 Mt/yr
Waste0.05°C45,0005 Mt/yr
Fossil Fuels0.09°C80,0008 Mt/yr
Additional0.10°C90,0009 Mt/yr
Total0.28°C255,00026 Mt/yr

Source: UN Environment Programme

On top of this, 26 million tonnes of crop losses could be avoided each year—equal to about 10% of America’s total food production annually—by utilizing these combined reduction measures.

Methane Mitigation Potential by Sector

As a noxious greenhouse gas, methane is often found in livestock emissions, landfills, and natural gas. For these reasons, the agricultural, waste, and fossil fuel sectors produce the most methane emissions annually.

Where do the largest opportunities lie in mitigating emissions?

Waste

The waste sector presents an opportunity to reduce 29-36 million tonnes of methane emissions annually. The vast majority—80% of landfill emissions and 70% of wastewater methane emissions—can potentially be mitigated by 2030 with technologies that are technically feasible today.

Agriculture

By 2030, 30 million tonnes of methane emissions have the potential to be removed each year in the agricultural sector. In fact, 30% of livestock emissions can be potentially eliminated in a technically feasible way over this time period.

Fossil Fuels

The highest potential is found in fossil fuels, with up to 57 million tonnes of methane emissions from the oil and gas sector and up to 25 million tonnes from the coal sector having the potential to be mitigated each year by 2030. Research shows that up to 80% of targeted measures in the oil and gas sector and up to 98% of coal measures could be implemented at negative or low cost.

In particular, methane leak detection and repair in the oil and gas industry represent a significant opportunity. For instance, between 2019 and 2021, over 2,400 large methane leaks took place.

Significant Potential

Today, technologies to fight methane emissions are readily available, with the potential for immediate benefits.

Consider how 0.1°C in warming could be prevented by 2050 using methane abatement technologies in the oil and gas sector. This is equivalent to eliminating the entire emissions of road vehicles—from cars to two-wheelers—globally.

Given the grave threat methane emissions pose to the planet and society, methane abatement solutions present significant opportunities using current technologies.

Carbon Streaming supports mitigating methane emissions with its carbon credit streams on projects in Canada and India.

Where does this data come from?

Source: UN Environment Programme, ‘Global Methane Assessment: Benefits and Costs of Mitigating Methane Emissions’ (May 2021)

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