Working from home and more flexibility was the ideal scenario everyone had dreamed of prior to the pandemic. But working from the kitchen table during lockdown and the flexibility to help their homeschooled children with homework during lunch or after dinner, is the reality everyone got. In 2020, our homes went from being a safe haven to becoming a crammed cubicle away from the office and, practically overnight, space became the most precious commodity.
But when it comes to living space, which is a rather fixed urban resource, all cities are not created equal. From Cape Town to Istanbul and Bangkok to Barcelona, some of the world’s most popular and well-known cities are much more generous than others. The U.S. median home price — hovering around $300,000 — buys a whopping 2,098 square feet in Houston and 3,571 in sprawling Johannesburg, but less than 300 square feet of living space in crowded San Francisco and Singapore.
- The median U.S. home price, $300,000, buys almost 5,000 square feet in Delhi, but only 144 square feet in Hong Kong.
- Looking at the two extremes in America, homebuyers in Houston could get seven times more space compared to their fellow house-hunters in San Francisco.
- In Canada, Ottawa offers the most space for $300,000, while Lisbon, Portugal would be a buyer’s best bet of all the European cities included in the analysis.
Delhi, Istanbul & Johannesburg Boast Insane Amounts of Space
The cities that offer the most space for the median home price in the U.S. are scattered on three very different regions: India, Turkey and South Africa. Delhi leads the way with 4,836 square feet for $300,000, followed by the amazing Istanbul, the only megacity in the world resting on two continents and the inspiring Johannesburg — a metropolis ranking among the alpha global cities of the world, according to the Globalization and World Cities Research Network.
Hong Kong, San Francisco & Singapore Go from Micro to Nano
At the other end of the spectrum, Hong Kong‘s infamously small apartments are probably not the best place to be during a pandemic. The only other world-renowned city where the American median home price doesn’t buy much living space is San Francisco. In fact, San Francisco homes for sale are some of the most expensive in the nation and $300,000 buys just under 300 square feet. However, San Francisco office space is full of opportunities on the cutting-edge of tech and has fantastic lifestyle options, moving to San Francisco is the ultimate dream for professionals all over the country and even the world.
In the U.S., Houston Buyers Get the Most Bang for their Buck
Of all the North American cities included in the analysis, Houston offers the most square footage for the median price. Here, $300,000 buys a little more than 2,000 square feet of space — seven times more than in San Francisco.
North of the border, in Canada, Ottawa might be the place to be, as homebuyers here could get almost 1,500 square feet to organize their new life, complete with a home office for $300,000.
In cities large and small all across the world, the pandemic brought about a change in lifestyle so sudden and profound that even the definition of a home was rewritten overnight. And while some cities have sprawling floorplans and plenty of space to accommodate our new lifestyle, many urban hubs and famous metropolises were not made for these hard times.
- The cities in the analysis selected based on size, population, and CBRE’s 2019 Global Living Report.
- Average price per square foot sourced from: CBRE, The Economic Times, PropertyShark, Royal LePage, Mexico News Daily, Global Property Guide, Idealista, Deloitte, the Real Estate Economic Institute Japan.
This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be deemed as legal, financial or investment advice or solicitation of any kind. Before selling or purchasing real estate or insurance, always consult with a licensed attorney, financial advisor, insurance agent, and real estate broker.
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