If you’re shopping for property in the 10 poorest cities in the world, you might expect that it would cost less. A survey by GOBankingRates, however, found that in some of the world’s poorest cities, housing prices weren’t much lower than what you could expect to pay for properties of a similar size in the U.S. Half of the cities on this list carried average costs above the $128-per-square-foot average in the U.S. reported by Zillow — in the most expensive city on this list, the cost was almost 10 times that average.
GOBankingRates found the 10 cities with the lowest GDP per capita out of the 300 largest metropolitan areas in the world — half of which were located in India — and then surveyed local housing prices to see what a budget of $1 million would buy in that city. Because these are large, crowded cities with populations in the millions, the demand for housing can keep prices high. Click through to see the kind of home you could buy with $1 million in the world’s poorest cities.
10. Jakarta, Indonesia
- GDP per capita: $5,020
- $1 million buys 3,279 square feet
Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, is the country’s largest city, home to around 9.6 million people. The average annual salary in Jakarta is $5,015 according to salary figures from Numbeo. A major hindrance to the city’s growth is poor transit infrastructure, which has residents spending hours a day stuck in traffic rather than working, resulting in economic losses in the billions of dollars each year, reported CNBC.
While incomes are low in Jakarta, housing prices are relatively high and have more than doubled since 2009, according to CNBC. With prices currently at $305 per square foot, $1 million would buy a Jakarta property about the size of a four- to five-bedroom home in the U.S. In some parts of the U.S., however, a home of about 3,300 square feet can cost just $420,000, according to the country’s median price per square foot from Zillow.
9. New Delhi
- GDP per capita: $3,580
- $1 million buys 3,612 square feet
In New Delhi, locals earn slightly more than the residents of Jakarta, with an average income of around $6,927 a year after taxes according to salary figures from Numbeo.
Recently, a high inventory of real estate in the market has pushed housing prices down in Delhi. As of December 2014, many high-end properties had seen prices fall as much as 25 to 30 percent, according to The Economic Times of India. Its median price per square foot is still high, however, at $277, which means $1 million will get a buyer a spacious home in the city that would be about the size of a five-bedroom home in the U.S.
8. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
- GDP per capita: $3,300
- $1 million buys 6,494 square feet
Workers in Ho Chi Minh City make an average annual salary of $2,985 after taxes, which leaves a huge gap between earnings and housing prices. The average annual salary in Ho Chi Minh City would buy workers just 19.4 square feet of property in the city, where the average price per square foot is $154, according to figures from Numbeo. By comparison, the $49,276 median household income in the U.S. in 2010 could by about 636 square feet of property, which is about 30 times the real estate buying power.
A buyer with $1 million to spend in Ho Chi Minh City could buy a large, luxurious apartment — at least for now. The city’s housing prices remained mostly steady in 2014 but recent easing of property rules that limited foreign investments in Vietnam real estate could push prices up in 2015, reported Reuters. With the housing market opening up to overseas investors, Ho Chi Minh appears to be headed into another housing boom.
- GDP per capita: $2,980
- $1 million buys 9,568 square feet
Cairo has a population of more than 7 million people, with the average resident of the city earning $307 a month after taxes, or $3,679 a year, according to Numbeo.
The housing market in Cairo is expanding, with home sale prices rising in the first quarter of 2015, according to international real estate firm JLL. The price per square foot in Cairo is a round $105. With a budget of $1 million, a buyer could get a large villa.
6. Alexandria, Egypt
- GDP per capita: $2,680
- $1 million buys 9,916 square feet
Alexandria’s figures are similar to Cairo’s. Residential property prices in Alexandria, at $101 per square foot, are only slightly below those in Cairo. With a $1 million budget, a buyer could afford a luxurious villa or chalet in Alexandria.
Many Alexandrians are likely priced out of the housing market, however, due to low incomes. Workers in this city make less than those in Cairo, around $2,700 a year after taxes according to Numbeo, which is one of the lowest average earnings on this list. For Alexandrians, an average annual salary would buy just 27 square feet of property.
5. Mumbai, India
- GDP per capita: $1,990
- $1 million buys 814 square feet
In South Mumbai, residential properties cost $1,228 per square foot on average — nearly 10 times the median price per square foot in the U.S. At this price per square foot, $1 million would buy just over 800 square feet of property in Mumbai.
With the average income in Mumbai at $9,420 per year after taxes, a full year’s income would buy just 7.7 square feet in the city. Housing prices in Mumbai are expected to drop soon, according to Indian news outlet Firstpost, due to a combination of high costs of local housing, decreasing lending practices and a crackdown on illegal money entering the housing market.
4. Chennai, India
- GDP per capita: $1,870
- $1 million buys 5,941 square feet
Located on the Southeast coast of India, Chennai has been attracting home buyers thanks to lower interest rates and stabilizing housing prices, reported Indian business publication Business Standard. Chennai housing prices in the city remain high, however, at around $168 per square foot.
While these prices are lower than those in Mumbai, housing prices are still high relative to earnings. For the average income of $7,106 per year after taxes, according to Numbeo, a Chennai resident could buy just 42.3 square feet of space in the city.
3. Hyderabad, India
- GDP per capita: $1,430
- $1 million buys 11,770 square feet
Hyderabad has one of the lowest house prices on this list: The average cost per square foot is just $85. Home prices have remained fairly steady in this city, with a modest 2 percent rise in housing prices from Q4 2014 to Q1 2015, reported Indian news outlet The New Indian Express. A budget of $1 million could buy an estate with many bedrooms and luxury features.
Living in one of the poorest cities in the world can mean earning a low income, however; Hyderabad’s residents earn an average of $5,697 a year after taxes, according to Numbeo. This means a typical year’s salary would buy just 67 square feet of space.
2. Bangalore, India
- GDP per capita: $1,420
- $1 million buys 10,851 square feet
For Bangalore residents, $1 million can buy a home with half a dozen bedrooms, an oversized kitchen and more in a gated community. The city’s average cost per square foot is $92.
Despite the city’s lower GDP, Bangalore residents earn more than Indians in other major cities on this list —$8,264 a year after taxes, according to figures from Numbeo. The average annual income would buy around 90 square feet of real estate in the city.
1. Kolkata, India
- GDP per capita: $1,110
- $1 million buys 10,871 square feet
In the poorest city among the world’s 300 largest metropolitan economies, Kolkata’s residents earn an average annual income of $5,214 a year according to figures from Numbeo. With an average cost of $92 per square foot in the city, a year’s salary would buy just 57 square feet of property in Kolkata.
The Kolkata housing market is expected to see a downturn in demand, according to The Times of India, which could lead to lower prices. Already demand for and sale of premium real estate have fallen.
Methodology: Cities were included based on figures provided by the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings for the gross domestic product per capita for the 300 largest metropolitan economies in the world. Chinese cities Nanning and Shantou were excluded due to a lack of housing price data. Housing prices were sourced from Numbeo and Global Property Guide; prices were converted from square meters to square feet as needed. Average annual salaries for each city were calculated based on income information from Numbeo. Foreign currency figures were converted to U.S. dollars using conversion rates as of Aug. 7, 2015.