10 Most Unaffordable Cities To Buy In
Although there are plenty of locations in the U.S. that qualify as great places to live, affordability is usually a key factor for most people. And as you might imagine, some of the most desirable locations are some of the most expensive.
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To find the most unaffordable cities to buy in, GOBankingRates sourced average 2022 home values from Zillow and the overall cost of living index from Sperling’s Best. Then, it used average annual expenditure data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to determine how much homebuyers in each city might spend each month. Finally, a livability score of at least 65, according to AreaVibes, was required for the city to make the list.
Here are the 10 most unaffordable American cities to buy a home.
10. Breckenridge, Colorado
- Cost of Living Index Score: 141.6
- 2022 Average Home Value: $1,042,054.43
With its world-class skiing, beautiful mountain scenery, art scene and plenty of dining and nightlife options, what’s not to love about Breckenridge? Unfortunately, it’s the city’s lack of affordability. With the average home value topping $1 million and the monthly cost of living at $7,237.41, you’ll need to have plenty of cash flow to buy a home and live here.
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9. Steamboat Springs, Colorado
- Cost of Living Index Score: 144.8
- 2022 Average Home Value: $919,747.14
Steamboat Springs has an exceptional livability score of 77. Close proximity to plenty of amenities helps make up that score. But you’ll pay to enjoy the privilege, with home values exceeding $900,000 and an annual cost of living of 88,811.63.
8. Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts
- Cost of Living Index Score: 153.7
- 2022 Average Home Value: $1,091,933.71
Vineyard Haven is a small city of about 2,000, but it still has a lot going for it. For example, it has an excellent livability score of 71 and the crime rate is 71% lower than the state’s average. However, with average home values over $1 million and the annual cost of living at $94,270.36, affordability is not its strong suit.
7. Key West, Florida
- Cost of Living Index Score: 154.8
- 2022 Average Home Value: $940,523.71
This tropical island paradise has a livability score of 71, which is considered excellent by AreaVibes. The trade-off for all this natural beauty is the city’s cost of living, which is 54.8% higher than the national average. The monthly cost of living comes in at $7,912.09, which equals $94,945.03 annually.
6. San Diego
- Cost of Living Index Score: 160.1
- 2022 Average Home Value: $892,745.71
Even though the average home value for San Diegans is the lowest on this list, the city’s monthly and annual cost of living isn’t. You’ll pay $8,182.98 per month and 98,195.73 per year to live there.
5. Napa, California
- Cost of Living Index Score: 162.1
- 2022 Average Home Value: $902,636.14
If your dream is to live in wine country, the average home value here is the second-lowest on the list after San Diego. However, that’s not saying much as the monthly cost of living is still up there at $8.285.20, which equals $99,422.41 annually.
4. Jackson, Wyoming
- Cost of Living Index Score: 177.8
- 2022 Average Home Value: $953,465.29
The livability score in Jackson is one of the highest of these cities at 79, which is considered exceptional, according to AreaVibes. But you’ll still pay close to $1 million, on average, to own a home here. The monthly cost of living comes to $9,087.65 per month, which totals up to right above $109,000 per year.
3. Edwards, Colorado
- Cost of Living Index Score: 202.6
- 2022 Average Home Value: $1,169,901.71
Half of the cities on this list have average home values that exceed $1 million and Edwards is one of them. One concession is that the city has one of the highest livability scores on the list at 79, tying with Jackson, Wyoming. However, the monthly cost of living is up there at $10,355.22, making the annual cost-of-living total close to $125,000 per year.
2. San Jose
- Cost of Living Index Score: 214.5
- 2022 Average Home Value: $1,629,828.71
You’ll likely have to fork over some serious dough if you decide San Jose is where you want to hang your hat. Its average home values are the most costly on the list. Plus, the cost of living is 114% higher than the national average due to its $10,963.45 monthly cost of living, which equals $131,561.43 annually.
1. San Francisco
- Cost of Living Index Score: 269.3
- 2022 Average Home Value: $1,441,848.71
You need deep pockets if you choose to settle in this Bay Area city. San Francisco ranks as the most unaffordable city to buy in — and for good reason. Its average home values are the second-highest on the list after San Jose. Plus, the city’s annual and monthly costs of living exceed every other city on the list by thousands of dollars at $165,172.46 and $13,764.37 respectively.
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Methodology: To find the most unaffordable cities to buy in, GOBankingRates first used Zillow data to find (1) average 2022 home values. GOBankingRates then used (2) Sperling’s Best to find cities’ overall cost of living index. Next, GOBankingRates used (3)average annual expenditure data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2020 Consumer Expenditure Survey in order to determine how much a homebuyer might spend in each selected city per month. GOBankingRates then ranked qualifying cities by most to least average monthly expenditure. In order for a city to be qualified for the study, it must have (4) a livability score of 65 or above, as sourced from AreaVibes. All data was collected on and up to date as of August 19, 2022.