This Chart Shows the Most Affordable (and Unaffordable) Places to Live in America

January 7th 2017

Loretta Donelan

Buying a home can seem like a daunting task, especially when the difference between your income and the price of a house seems insurmountable. A new interactive chart from investment news firm Visual Capitalist highlights the discrepancy between income and home values in counties across the U.S.

Chart showing median income and home value.

The chart compares median household income to median home value, and clicking on each data point, which represents a U.S. county, reveals how many times larger home value is than income. Basically, the chart shows which counties of the U.S. are the most and least affordable. For a closer look, you can also check out individual states’ data.

Where are the most expensive areas to live?

Clicking around the map reveals some some no-brainers. Coastal and metropolitan areas in California and New York are among the least affordable places to live, with home values around 10 times as high as household income. Kings County, New York (where the borough of Brooklyn is located) is the least affordable place to live in the United States, where home value is close to 12 times as high as median income.

California affordability.

Don't underestimate the price of a good view.

While it's well-known that New York City and San Francisco are not exactly budget friendly, homes in Colorado, Wyoming, and Massachusetts come with surprisingly high price tags, too. Most of these outliers can be explained by their natural landmarks; Pitkin County, Colorado, is home to Aspen, a luxury ski destination, while Dukes County, Massachusetts, is better known as Martha’s Vineyard. It makes sense why the ratio in these locations would rival those of major metropolitan areas: they are popular, affluent vacation destinations, where a small percentage of high-earners buy pricey second homes. People are paying for the scenery (and membership to a certain social class), not for access to jobs.

Houses in Martha's Vineyard.

Where is housing affordable?

Individuals looking to buy homes in the near future should probably avoid coastal cities and scenic destinations in favor of Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Kansas. If you’re interested in moving to one of the more affordable parts of your state, check to see if any of the counties are in the lowest blue range of home value to income ratio — and maybe move out of Brooklyn.

h/t Visual Capitalist