Adobe Stock/Brian Jackson

A recent survey of 20 financial centers across the globe conducted by UBS Group AG reveals that Chicago is more affordable than New York, London and Hong Kong. The Windy City is seen as undervalued due to fiscal difficulties and rising rents. New York is now considered overpriced while things in Boston, Milan and Singapore are considered fair. San Francisco, Tokyo and Stockholm were rated as overvalued, six were in bubble-risk territory, with Hong Kong considered to be the most inflated.

While prices aren't rising as fast as in prior years, affordability remains a key concern. Housing prices in major cities increased by 35 percent on average over the past five years, according to the report. New York's recent price decline – the first in several years – was partially due to reduced deductions for local taxes and rising mortgage rates, the bank said. "In Manhattan the market weakness was even more pronounced," according to the report. "Real prices fell 5 percent compared to the previous year and in the luxury segment even more."

Incomes simply aren't climbing fast enough to keep up with the prices in many areas. For a skilled service worker in Hong Kong, it would take 22 years of their average annual income to buy a 60-square-meter (650-square-foot) apartment near the city center. A decade ago it was 12 years. For other cities, buying real estate is more feasible. In Milan, it would take 5.7 years of annual income; it would be under five years for Chicago, Boston and Los Angeles.

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