For many of us, buying our own home is one of the biggest milestones that we could ever achieve. However, with home prices rising higher and higher across the U.S., home buying is turning into an impossible dream. Paying for an apartment or a house upfront is not an option, and even saving up for a downpayment can take more time and more sacrifices than we’re willing to make. A lot of people think that places like New York City, San Francisco, or Los Angeles are special cases, notoriously more expensive than other cities in the world. But that’s not always the case anymore, as home prices are rising higher pretty much everywhere across the globe, particularly in thriving global cities and capitals.
We recently looked at what you could rent with $1,500 per month in the world’s top 50 global cities in 2019, based on A.T. Kearney’s most recent ranking and data from Numbeo. The highlight was that six of the ten most expensive cities in the world are located in the U.S., with San Francisco and NYC as the priciest destinations for renters. However, a lot of people would prefer to own their home rather than rent, so we thought we’d give the ranking a new spin.
We took the cities in the A.T. Kearney ranking and looked at how much space you could buy in each of them if you had $250,000 to spare. Then, to further reveal the differences among the cities and get a better picture of how expensive they are, we extracted the average sale price per square foot in each city and compared the priciest to the most affordable cities on the list. Read on to see what we found.
Hong Kong, the fifth global city in A.T. Kearney’s most recent ranking, turns out to be the priciest city in the world for those dreaming of buying their own place. Here, $250,000 will only buy you 89 square feet of space, for a whopping sale price of $2,808 per square foot. The city is one of the priciest - and most crowded - places in the world, so it’s not that surprising that you don’t get a lot of bang for your buck here. However, it’s downright impossible to live in an 89-square-foot space, so you would need a lot more money if you were planning to move to Hong Kong. Even if you had $1 million to spare for a place here, you’d only be able to get 356 square feet of living space, which makes Hong Kong the priciest city on our list by far.
Singapore is the second-priciest city on our list for potential homebuyers, with $250,000 enough for just 140 square feet of space. London, ranked second on the Global Cities Index, offers 161 square feet for $250,000, while in Beijing, you get a little bit more, adding up to 183 square feet.
The fifth-priciest global city turns out to be New York City, which is the #1 city in the world, according to the 2019 index. Here, $250,000 will buy you 184 square feet of living space, which is obviously not very much, but you’d be tempted to think it’s a lot when compared to the 89 square feet you get in Hong Kong. What this means is that, while San Francisco is the priciest U.S. city for renters in 2019, NYC is the most expensive for homebuyers, with a sale price per square foot of $1,356.
If you’re not too keen on sacrificing space and comfort just to live in the Big Apple, then you might want to consider relocating - to Texas, that is. As it turns out, Houston is one of the global cities where you get the most space for $250,000, surpassed only by Istanbul in 2019. Here, $250,000 will buy you 1,204 square feet of space, for a sale price of $208 per square foot. That’s 1,020 square feet more than you’ll get in NYC and 1,115 square feet extra compared to Hong Kong. Dallas is a good option, too, offering 1,018 square feet of living space for $250,000 in 2019 for $246 per square foot. You won’t get this much space anywhere else in the U.S., so if homebuying is your ultimate dream, then why not consider a move to Texas?
If a lot of living space is what you’re after, then you’ll need to look beyond U.S. borders and try Turkey, Mexico or Brazil instead. The most square-footage you can get for $250,000 in 2019’s global cities is in Istanbul, which offers 1,776 square feet at a sale price of $141 per square foot. Houston follows close, with 1,204 square feet of space for $208 per square foot, while Mexico City offers 1,131 square feet at $221 per square foot. In São Paulo, you’ll get 1,072 square feet of living space at $233 per square foot, with Dallas rounding up the top 5 with 1,018 square feet and a price of $246 per square foot.
If moving to Texas doesn’t sound that appealing to you, then you should know that no other U.S. cities offer the same amount of space for $250,000 in 2019. In San Francisco, this amount will only get you 208 square feet of living space, at a sale price of $1,200 per square foot, while in Los Angeles, you get 346 square feet at $723 per square foot. Seattle is also getting pricier by the minute, with $250,000 buying you just 375 square feet of space here in 2019, for a price of $667 per square foot. So, you might want to give Houston or Dallas a second thought, after all.
To get an even better picture of the global situation for potential homebuyers, we used the data to calculate the sale price per square foot for each global city on our list. We then decided to compare the ten priciest cities to the ten most ‘affordable’ on the list. Seeing these numbers side by side is a good wake-up call, highlighting the differences among cities even further. The entries colored in red are the most expensive locations in the world, while those in green are the least expensive global cities in 2019. Check them out below:
We used the A.T. Kearney 2019 Global Cities Index to extract the 50 most thriving cities in the world at the moment. Using data available on Numbeo, we calculated the price per square foot for each city on the list and then calculated the square footage one can buy for $250,000.