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The Relative Value of $100 in Every American State and County

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Money at Face Value

Not all money is equal. Even though the face value of money stays relatively constant, the purchasing power that is behind it can differ wildly.

We know this intuitively with our personal experiences with things like inflation, but it is also true depending on where you are spending it. In an expensive metropolitan area it may cost more for ordinary goods, while in a rural place it may buy more than you may expect. Today’s charts use information from the Bureau of Economic Analysis to look at data at the state and county level to see where money can get the most “bang for the buck” in purchasing most goods and services.

Hawaii and D.C. are Money Pits

Looking at the cost of living by state level (and including the District of Columbia), the most expensive places to live are: Hawaii, Washington D.C., New York, and New Jersey. California and Maryland are close behind.

In all of these places, on average, spending $100 will only get you about $85 of goods and services relative to the rest of the country.

Here it is mapped:

The Value of $100 by State
The best places to get bang for your buck? Each dollar goes further in the Midwest and the South. Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Missouri, and South Dakota are among the cheapest states to live.

More Granularity by County

The data becomes much more interesting as it becomes more granular. It also makes sense because most people in Washington State know that money goes further in Spokane in comparison to Seattle. In the big metropolitan areas, or parts of remote states such as Alaska or Hawaii, the cost of living goes up significantly.

Here’s the data by county mapped:

The Value of $100 by County
Here’s the five most expensive places in America:

1. Honolulu ($81.37)
2. New York-Newark-Jersey City ($81.83)
3. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara ($81.97)
4. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk ($82.31)
5. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward ($82.44)

The cheapest place? It looks like it is rural Mississippi where $100 can buy you more than $125 of goods.

Original graphics from: Tax Foundation

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Maps

Mapped: The Salary Needed to Buy a Home in 50 U.S. Metro Areas

The annual salary needed to buy a home in the U.S. ranges from $38k to $255k, depending on the metropolitan area you are looking in.

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The Salary Needed to Buy a Home in 50 U.S. Metro Areas

Over the last year, home prices have risen in 49 of the biggest 50 metro areas in the United States.

At the same time, mortgage rates have hit seven-year highs, making things more expensive for any prospective home buyer.

With this context in mind, today’s map comes from HowMuch.net, and it shows the salary needed to buy a home in the 50 largest U.S. metro areas.

The Least and Most Expensive Metro Areas

As a reference point, the median home in the United States costs about $257,600, according to the National Association of Realtors.

 Median Home PriceMontly Payment (PITI)Salary Needed
National$257,600$1,433.91$61,453.51

With a 20% down payment and a 4.90% mortgage rate, and taking into account what’s needed to pay principal, interest, taxes, and insurance (PITI) on the home, it would mean a prospective buyer would need to have $61,453.51 in salary to afford such a purchase.

However, based on your frame of reference, this national estimate may seem extremely low or quite high. That’s because the salary required to buy in different major cities in the U.S. can fall anywhere between $37,659 to $254,835.

The 10 Cheapest Metro Areas

Here are the cheapest metro areas in the U.S., based on data and calculations from HSH.com:

RankMetro AreaMedian Home PriceMonthly Payment (PITI)Salary Needed
#1Pittsburgh$141,625$878.73$37,659.86
#2Cleveland$150,100$943.55$40,437.72
#3Oklahoma City$161,000$964.49$41,335.41
#4Memphis$174,000$966.02$41,400.93
#5Indianapolis$185,200$986.74$42,288.92
#6Louisville$180,100$987.54$42,323.15
#7Cincinnati$169,400$1,013.37$43,429.97
#8St. Louis$174,100$1,031.70$44,215.56
#9Birmingham$202,300$1,040.51$44,593.35
#10Buffalo$154,200$1,066.29$45,698.05

After the dust settles, Pittsburgh ranks as the cheapest metro area in the U.S. to buy a home. According to these calculations, buying a median home in Pittsburgh – which includes the surrounding metro area – requires an annual income of less than $40,000 to buy.

Just missing the list was Detroit, where a salary of $48,002.89 is needed.

The 10 Most Expensive Metro Areas

Now, here are the priciest markets in the country, also based on data from HSH.com:

RankMetro AreaMedian Home PriceMonthly Payment (PITI)Salary Needed
#1San Jose$1,250,000$5,946.17$254,835.73
#2San Francisco$952,200$4,642.82$198,978.01
#3San Diego$626,000$3,071.62$131,640.79
#4Los Angeles$576,100$2,873.64$123,156.01
#5Boston$460,300$2,491.76$106,789.93
#6New York City$403,900$2,465.97$105,684.33
#7Seattle$489,600$2,458.58$105,367.89
#8Washington, D.C.$417,400$2,202.87$94,408.70
#9Denver$438,300$2,139.02$91,672.45
#10Portland$389,000$1,987.37$85,173.08

Topping the list of the most expensive metro areas are San Jose and San Francisco, which are both cities fueled by the economic boom in Silicon Valley. Meanwhile, two other major metro areas in California, Los Angeles and San Diego, are not far behind.

New York City only ranks in sixth here, though it is worth noting that the NYC metro area extends well beyond the five boroughs. It includes Newark, Jersey City, and many nearby counties as well.

As a final point, it’s worth mentioning that all cities here (with the exception of Denver) are in coastal states.

Notes on Calculations

Data on median home prices comes from the National Association of Realtors and is based on 2018 Q4 information, while national mortgage rate data is derived from weekly surveys by Freddie Mac and the Mortgage Bankers Association of America for 30-year fixed rate mortgages.

Calculations include tax and homeowners insurance costs to determine the annual salary it takes to afford the base cost of owning a home (principal, interest, property tax and homeowner’s insurance, or PITI) in the nation’s 50 largest metropolitan areas.

Standard 28% “front-end” debt ratios and a 20% down payments subtracted from the median-home-price data are used to arrive at these figures.

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Chart of the Week

The Best and Worst Performing Wealth Markets in the Last 10 Years

This telling chart shows how national wealth markets have changed over the past decade, highlighting the biggest winners and losers.

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The Best and Worst Performing Wealth Markets

A lot can change in a decade.

Ten years ago, the collapse of Lehman Brothers sent the world’s financial markets into a tailspin, a catalyst for years of economic uncertainty.

At the same time, China’s robust GDP growth was reaching a fever pitch. The country was turning into a wealth creation machine, creating millions of newly-minted millionaires who would end up having a huge impact on wealth markets around the world.

The Ups and Downs of Wealth Markets (2008-2018)

Today’s graphic, using data from the Global Wealth Migration Review, looks at national wealth markets, and how they’ve changed since 2008.

Each wealth market is calculated from the sum of individual assets within the jurisdiction, accounting for the value of cash, property, equity, and business interests owned by people in the country. Just like other kinds of markets, wealth can grow or shrink over time.

Here are a few countries and regions that stand out in the report:

Developing Asian Economies
In terms of sheer wealth growth, nothing comes close to countries like China and India. The size of these markets, combined with rapid economic growth, have resulted in triple-digit gains over the last 10 years.

For the world’s two most populous countries, it’s a trend that is expected to continue into the next decade, despite the fact that many millionaire residents are migrating to different jurisdictions.

Mediterranean Malaise
European nations saw very little growth over the past decade, but the Mediterranean region was particularly hard-hit. In fact, eight of the 20 worst performing wealth markets over the last decade are located along the Mediterranean coast:

Rank (Out of 90)Country% Growth (2008-2018)
89๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ท Greece-37%
87๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡พ Cyprus-21%
86๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น Italy-14%
85๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ Spain-13%
84๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ท Turkey-11%
82๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ฌ Egypt-10%
80๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท France-7%
76๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡ท Croatia-6%

European Bright Spots
There were some bright spots in Europe during this same time period. Malta, Ireland, and Monaco all achieved positive wealth growth at rates higher than 30% over the last 10 years.

Australia
While it’s expected to see rapidly-growing economies as prolific producers of wealth, it is much more surprising when mature markets perform so strongly. Singapore and New Zealand fall under that category, as does Australia, which was already a large, mature wealth market.

Australia recently surpassed both Canada and France to become the seventh largest wealth market in the world, and last year alone, over 12,000 millionaires migrated there.

Venezuela
The long-term economic slide of Venezuela has been well documented, and it comes as no surprise that the country saw extreme contraction of wealth over the last decade. Since war-torn countries are not included in the report, Venezuela ranked 90th, which is dead-last on a global basis.

Short Term, Long Term

In 2018, global wealth actually slumped by 5%, dropping from $215 trillion to $204 trillion.

All 90 countries tracked by the report experienced negative growth in wealth, as global stock and property markets dipped. Here’s a look at the wealth markets that were the hardest hit over the past year:

Wealth MarketWealth growth (2017 -2018)
๐Ÿ‡ป๐Ÿ‡ช Venezuela-25%
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ท Turkey-23%
๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ท Argentina-20%
๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ฐ Pakistan-15%
๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ด Angola-15%
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Ukraine-13%
๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท France-12%
๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ Russia-12%
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ท Iran-12%
๐Ÿ‡ถ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Qatar-12%

The future outlook is rosier. Global wealth is expected to rise by 43% over the next decade, reaching $291 trillion by 2028. If current trends play out as expected, Vietnam could likely top this list a decade from now with a staggering 200% growth rate.

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