10 most unaffordable cities for housing globally (Yes, Sydney is there!)


You’ve provably wondered how Sydney’s very high property prices stack up globally. 

Thankfully, there are some handy reports that can show us, like the annual affordability survey by Demographia.

This is possibly stunning to many Sydneysiders, who just assumed buying a house one day would be well within reach. You know, the way it was for every prior generation!

No, not New York

So, here are the 10 least affordable major housing markets in the world, from Demographia, which rates middle-income housing affordability by using what it calls the ‘median multiple’. This is simply the median house price in the city divided by the median household income there, and is included below in brackets.

Top 10 Most Unaffordable Cities For Housing

  1. Hong Kong (18.1)
  2. Sydney (12.2)
  3. Vancouver (11.8)
  4. Auckland (10)
  5. San Jose (9.6) 
  6. Melbourne (9.5) 
  7. Honolulu (9.4)
  8. Los Angeles (9.3)
  9. San Francisco (9.2) 
  10. Bournemouth and Dorset (8.9)

Some notes about the report

The focus 

Most international housing affordability ratings focus on higher-end housing. By contrast, the Demographia survey looks at the middle of the market. In other words, housing affordability for average households.

It also focuses on housing markets, rather than higher cost inner areas or expensive neighborhoods. This is an important distinction.

The scope

The most recent survey covers 406 metropolitan housing markets in nine countries, including Australia, Canada, China, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States, and relates to data for the third quarter of 2016.

The median multiple is widely used for evaluating urban markets and has been recommended by the World Bank and the United Nations.

Demographia is part of the Wendell Cox Consultancy in Belleville, Illinois.