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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The Rising Demand for Nature-based Climate Solutions

Carbon credits from nature-based solutions are in high demand as organizations look to shrink their carbon footprints.

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nature based climate solutions

The Briefing

  • Nature-based climate solutions include conservation, restoration, and land management projects that avoid, reduce or sequester greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Carbon credits from nature-based projects accounted for over 66% of transaction value in the voluntary carbon markets in 2021.

The Rising Demand for Nature-based Climate Solutions

The world’s forests are important carbon sinks that absorb a net 7.6 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) annually.

Therefore, regrowing, preserving, and managing forests and other natural carbon sinks is crucial to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, and nature-based climate solutions are one way to do so.

Nature-based solutions refer to conservation, restoration, and land management projects that generate carbon credits by avoiding, reducing or sequestering greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. With more organizations committing to climate targets, carbon credits from these projects have been in high demand.

The above graphic sponsored by Carbon Streaming Corporation looks at the growing demand for carbon credits generated by nature-based projects using data from Ecosystem Marketplace.

The Growth of Nature-based Carbon Credits

With the race to net-zero ramping up, carbon markets have been growing as a whole.

In fact, the value of total transactions in the voluntary carbon markets in 2021 reached nearly $2 billion—more than tripling since 2020. Forestry and Land Use carbon credit projects led the growth, accounting for over 66% or over $1.3 billion worth of transactions in 2021.

Here’s a full breakdown of transaction values by project category:

Transaction YearForestry and Land UseRenewable EnergyEnergy Efficiency / Fuel SwitchingHousehold / Community DevicesOther and UnknownTotal
2016 $67M$25M$13M$18M$76M$199M
2017 $63M$32M$3M$12M$37M$146M
2018 $172M$41M$8M$30M$46M$296M
2019 $159M$60M$12M$25M$64M$320M
2020 $315M$102M$30M$36M$36M$520M
2021 $1,328M$479M$22M$43M$113M$1,985M

Figures have been rounded and may not sum up to the total.

Forestry and Land Use projects manage forests, soil, grasslands, and other land types to avoid or reduce carbon emissions or increase carbon sequestration. These projects generate one carbon credit for every tonne of CO2 equivalent GHGs that they remove or avoid from entering the atmosphere.

At the same time, they may offer co-benefits that can advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals through improvements in biodiversity, soil health, air and water quality, and the livelihoods of local communities.

Therefore, Forestry and Land Use projects have a significant role to play in reaching net zero. In fact, according to research published in the scientific journal Nature, letting forests regrow naturally has the potential to absorb up to 8.9 billion tonnes of CO2 annually through 2050, while still maintaining native grasslands and current food production levels.

Nature’s Role in Reaching Net Zero

For organizations looking to achieve their sustainability goals, nature-based solutions offer an opportunity to preserve and restore critical carbon sinks while supporting biodiversity and local communities. As a result, these types of carbon credits often trade at a premium, and their demand is skyrocketing, especially with more corporations committing to sustainability.

Carbon Streaming aims to accelerate a net-zero future. It pioneered the use of streaming transactions, a proven and flexible funding model, to scale high-integrity carbon credit projects to accelerate global climate action and advance the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. It focuses on projects that have a positive impact on the environment, local communities, and biodiversity, in addition to their carbon reduction or removal potential.

>>>Interested in learning more about Carbon Streaming? Click here to learn more.

Where does this data come from?

Source: Ecosystem Marketplace

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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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