The Most Expensive Cities to Buy a House 2023

There are many cities across the world that are hugely popular with expats. These places usually provide great job opportunities and a highly desirable way of life for both local residents and expats.

However, as these locations grow in popularity, so does the need for housing. When competition for property is high and supply is low, this can cause house prices to increase, often out of step with wages. This can mean that buying a house in the city becomes much more expensive.

Using the latest research, we look into some of the most expensive cities to buy a house, ranked by the house price to annual income ratio.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong is the most expensive place to buy a house with a house price to annual income ratio of 18.8.

According to the latest Global Living Report from CBRE, the average price for property in Hong Kong is $1.254 million (USD), the highest average property price in the world. The average salary in Hong Kong is 439,000 HKD (Hong Kong Dollar) or $55,928 per year.

Hong Kong is known as an international hub of business, and the high average wages reflect this. This attracts many people looking to work, and Hong Kong has a population density of 6,300 people per square kilometer, making it one of the most densely populated places in the world. It is this high demand and low supply of property that has seen house prices skyrocket.

In 2019, plans were announced to build an artificial island costing around $80 billion to help fight the housing shortage in Hong Kong. The development would provide around 260,000 residential units but the plans have faced criticism around the ecological impact of creating a new land mass in this way.


Sydney, in Australia, is the second most expensive city to buy a house, with a property price to annual income ratio of 13.3.

The average price for property in Sydney is $834,906 for houses and $527,018 for units. Property prices in Sydney can range vastly depending on the area. For example, the average house price in the Eastern Suburbs is $2,123,595 and the average price in the Outer West is $576,695.The average wage in Sydney is 90,800 AUD per year or around $60,355 USD.

Sydney has a population density of 433 people per square km. The most densely populated suburbs of Sydney have more than 13,000 people per square kilometer and are the most densely populated areas in Australia. Areas on the coast are constantly in high demand for property, as people seek their dream coastal lifestyle.


Vancouver, in Canada, is the third most expensive city to buy a house, with a property price to annual income ratio of 12.0.

Vancouver has an average property price of $1,170,700 and the average salary is 60,072 CAD or $45,201 USD. Vancouver has a population density of 5,749 people per square kilometer and has the highest population in the British Columbia province. It is a hugely popular city and frequently ranks highly for best cities to live in Canada and in the world.

Over 40% of Vancouver’s population are immigrants born outside Canada, making it a top location for expats to live and work. The city provides roles in various industries for both local residents and immigrants, including in software development, video game development, animation, and trade at the port. This contributes to Vancouver being a sought-after destination which pushes property prices higher.


Honolulu, in Hawaii USA, is the fourth most expensive city to buy a house, with a property price to annual income ratio of 11.8.

The average property price in Honolulu is $799,779. The average salary is around $74,000. Housing costs in Honolulu are around 214% higher than in the rest of the USA. Honolulu has a population density of 5,791 people per square mile.

Part of the reason housing in Honolulu is so expensive is due to strict zoning regulations which limit where and how much housing can be built. A lot of land is protected, and Honolulu is a small island, which means there is a high demand for the short supply of housing.

Honolulu is a popular location for tourists and has a booming economy. As well as tourism, it is a business and trading hub and contributes around $10 million per year to the local economy. As people flock to the island to participate in the economy and enjoy the more relaxed way of life, they can find competition for houses high, which drives up the average price.

San Jose

San Jose, in California USA, is the fifth most expensive place to buy a house, with a property price to annual income ratio of 11.5.

The average price for property in San Jose is $1,320,000 and the average wage is $110,000 per year. The population density is 5,684 people per square mile.

San Jose is the capital of Silicon Valley, where the headquarters of many major tech companies are located, such as Adobe, eBay, PayPal, and Roku. It has the third-largest urban economy in the USA, a ranking it shares with San Francisco.

San Jose is a relatively small city, covering just 466.1 square kilometres. Available space for housing is scarce, with much land being used for office buildings, roads, and other developments related to the business hub. It is also in the Bay Area, a popular location for people looking to enjoy coastal living and good year-round weather. This, combined with residents moving to San Jose for work, has driven up house prices.

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