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In many places around the country—particularly in coastal cities in California and along the East Coast—housing has become staggeringly more expensive than it has been in the past, and significantly more expensive than typical price to income ratios that have long been relied on as rules for purchase. Economists used to say that homebuyers could afford something that was priced at about 2.6 years of household income, but finding a home that fits that budget is out of reach for many.

CityLab's Richard Florida looked at the number of years of median income it would take to buy a home in U.S. metropolitan areas using data on median housing values from Zillow and on median income (for households and individuals) from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

By this metric, the least affordable metro of all is Los Angeles, where it would take nearly 10 years for the median household—using the three-times-greater-than rule—to buy the median-priced home. Not far behind are two Bay Area metros, San Jose and San Francisco, where it would take more than nine years to buy a home.

In San Diego and Ventura, California, and Honolulu, it takes seven years for the median household to buy the median home. In New York, Seattle, Portland, and Boston, the median home will set you back five-plus years of income. Even in the less pricey Sunbelt cities of Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, and Phoenix, the median home costs the equivalent of 4 years of median household income. California stands out as by far the most expensive region, with eight of the 10 costliest cities located there.

The 10 most affordable metros in the country are mainly in the Rust Belt, with six in Ohio, three in Pennsylvania, and one in upstate New York. In these areas, a house costs between two and 2.7 years of income—that is, four or five times less than in the least affordable metros.

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