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Ranked: 15 of the World’s Least Affordable Housing Markets

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Mapping housing market affordability and some of the least affordable cities.

Ranked: 15 of the World’s Least Affordable Housing Markets

When considering where to live, big cities are attractive to people for a number of reasons, but affordability is usually not one of them.

This map, using data from Demographia, highlights the major cities ranked the worst for housing market affordability on a global basis.

Unaffordable Housing Markets

Demographia’s report looks at middle-income housing affordability in 94 cities in eight countries, many of which are known for having pricy housing markets:

  • 🇦🇺 Australia
  • 🇨🇦 Canada
  • 🇨🇳 China (Hong Kong)
  • 🇮🇪 Ireland
  • 🇳🇿 New Zealand
  • 🇸🇬 Singapore
  • 🇬🇧 United Kingdom
  • 🇺🇸 United States

For the 2023 report, it uses 2022 Q3 prices and income levels for evaluation, dividing the median house price by the gross median household income to find the median multiple for housing.

And for the first time in the history of Demographia’s reporting, not a single of the 94 cities scored below 3.0, the cutoff to be deemed “affordable.” Here’s a closer look at the least affordable markets in 2023:

RankCityHousing Median Multiple
1🇭🇰 Hong Kong18.8
2🇦🇺 Sydney13.3
3🇨🇦 Vancouver12.0
4🇺🇸 Honolulu11.8
5🇺🇸 San Jose11.5
6🇺🇸 Los Angeles11.3
7🇳🇿 Auckland10.8
8🇺🇸 San Francisco10.7
9🇦🇺 Melbourne9.9
10🇨🇦 Toronto9.5
11🇺🇸 San Diego9.4
12🇬🇧 London8.7
13🇺🇸 Miami8.5
14🇦🇺 Adelaide8.2
15🇬🇧 Bournemouth & Dorset8.0

For well over a decade now, Hong Kong has taken the top spot as the least affordable market globally. The only city to become even less affordable year over year was Los Angeles.

On the flip side, the most affordable city in the U.S. was Pittsburgh, with the median multiple sitting at 3.1. As people start to get priced out of certain markets, they may start to move to these more affordable cities.

Zooming out farther, here are the housing market affordability scores for all eight jurisdictions covered in this report:

Country / JurisdictionHousing Median Multiple
🇭🇰 Hong Kong18.8
🇳🇿 New Zealand10.8
🇦🇺 Australia8.2
🇨🇦 Canada5.3
🇸🇬 Singapore5.3
🇬🇧 UK5.3
🇮🇪 Ireland5.1
🇺🇸 U.S.5.0

Again, none of these countries are considered affordable, but within each there is a wide range of scores. Hong Kong is significantly less affordable than the second-place New Zealand and third-place Australia.

Scores across Canada, Singapore, the UK, Ireland and the U.S., however, are quite similar.

Better Cities for Housing Market Affordability

While many people flock to big cities, evidenced by the fact that many of the least affordable places are also among the most populous, others are opting to live somewhere more in their price range.

Here’s a glance at some of the most affordable housing markets worldwide:

RankCityHousing Median Multiple
1🇺🇸 Pittsburgh, PA3.1
2🇺🇸 Rochester, NY3.2
3🇺🇸 Cleveland, OH3.5
3🇺🇸 St. Louis, MO-IL3.5
5🇺🇸 Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN3.6
5🇺🇸 Oklahoma City, OK3.6
7🇺🇸 Buffalo, NY3.7
8🇺🇸 Detroit, MI3.8
9🇺🇸 Louisville, KY-IN3.9
9🇺🇸 Tusla, OK3.9
11🇨🇦 Edmonton, AB4.0
11🇺🇸 Hartford, CT4.0
11🇺🇸 Kansas City, MO-KS4.0
14🇺🇸 Columbus, OH4.1
14🇺🇸 Grand Rapid, MI4.1
14🇺🇸 Indianapolis, IN4.1
14🇺🇸 Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN-WI4.1
14🇺🇸 Philadelphia, PA-NJ-DE-MD4.1

All of the top 18 most affordable cities covered in the report are located in North America.

While big, global cities will certainly continue to attract talent and residents from all over, the more affordable cities may gain new residents for more practical financial reasons.

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Economy

Economic Growth Forecasts for G7 and BRICS Countries in 2024

The IMF has released its economic growth forecasts for 2024. How do the G7 and BRICS countries compare?

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Faded horizontal bar chart visualization of G7 and BRICS countries' real GDP growth forecasts for 2024.

G7 & BRICS Real GDP Growth Forecasts for 2024

The International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) has released its real gross domestic product (GDP) growth forecasts for 2024, and while global growth is projected to stay steady at 3.2%, various major nations are seeing declining forecasts.

This chart visualizes the 2024 real GDP growth forecasts using data from the IMF’s 2024 World Economic Outlook for G7 and BRICS member nations along with Saudi Arabia, which is still considering an invitation to join the bloc.

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This visual is part of a special dispatch of the key takeaways exclusively for VC+ members.

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Mixed Economic Growth Prospects for Major Nations in 2024

Economic growth projections by the IMF for major nations are mixed, with the majority of G7 and BRICS countries forecasted to have slower growth in 2024 compared to 2023.

Only three BRICS-invited or member countries, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and South Africa, have higher projected real GDP growth rates in 2024 than last year.

GroupCountryReal GDP Growth (2023)Real GDP Growth (2024P)
G7🇺🇸 U.S.2.5%2.7%
G7🇨🇦 Canada1.1%1.2%
G7🇯🇵 Japan1.9%0.9%
G7🇫🇷 France0.9%0.7%
G7🇮🇹 Italy0.9%0.7%
G7🇬🇧 UK0.1%0.5%
G7🇩🇪 Germany-0.3%0.2%
BRICS🇮🇳 India7.8%6.8%
BRICS🇨🇳 China5.2%4.6%
BRICS🇦🇪 UAE3.4%3.5%
BRICS🇮🇷 Iran4.7%3.3%
BRICS🇷🇺 Russia3.6%3.2%
BRICS🇪🇬 Egypt3.8%3.0%
BRICS-invited🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia-0.8%2.6%
BRICS🇧🇷 Brazil2.9%2.2%
BRICS🇿🇦 South Africa0.6%0.9%
BRICS🇪🇹 Ethiopia7.2%6.2%
🌍 World3.2%3.2%

China and India are forecasted to maintain relatively high growth rates in 2024 at 4.6% and 6.8% respectively, but compared to the previous year, China is growing 0.6 percentage points slower while India is an entire percentage point slower.

On the other hand, four G7 nations are set to grow faster than last year, which includes Germany making its comeback from its negative real GDP growth of -0.3% in 2023.

Faster Growth for BRICS than G7 Nations

Despite mostly lower growth forecasts in 2024 compared to 2023, BRICS nations still have a significantly higher average growth forecast at 3.6% compared to the G7 average of 1%.

While the G7 countries’ combined GDP is around $15 trillion greater than the BRICS nations, with continued higher growth rates and the potential to add more members, BRICS looks likely to overtake the G7 in economic size within two decades.

BRICS Expansion Stutters Before October 2024 Summit

BRICS’ recent expansion has stuttered slightly, as Argentina’s newly-elected president Javier Milei declined its invitation and Saudi Arabia clarified that the country is still considering its invitation and has not joined BRICS yet.

Even with these initial growing pains, South Africa’s Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor told reporters in February that 34 different countries have submitted applications to join the growing BRICS bloc.

Any changes to the group are likely to be announced leading up to or at the 2024 BRICS summit which takes place October 22-24 in Kazan, Russia.

Get the Full Analysis of the IMF’s Outlook on VC+

This visual is part of an exclusive special dispatch for VC+ members which breaks down the key takeaways from the IMF’s 2024 World Economic Outlook.

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