What a $500,000 home looks like around the world

Adam Smith 16 August 2016

Australian property seems expensive, but just how much are we getting for our money?

Australia has some of the world’s least affordable property markets, according to Demographia. In the researcher’s latest ranking of unaffordable markets, Australia was found to have only two affordable markets, compared to 45 either seriously unaffordable or severely unaffordable.

In spite of the high barriers to entry, it’s worth looking at how far your money will go in Australia as compared to other global markets. We compared what $500,000 will buy you across 15 global markets to see which gets you the most bang for your buck.



  • Suburb: Bankstown, 18km from Sydney CBD
  • Bedrooms: 1
  • Bathrooms: 1
  • Parking spaces: 1

This is what a half-million dollar house looks like in Sydney. This newly-built one bedroom apartment in Bankstown puts you a considerable distance from inner city Sydney.


melbourne 2

  • Suburb: East Melbourne, 1.8km from Melbourne CBD
  • Bedrooms: 1
  • Bathrooms: 1
  • Parking spaces: 0

For $500,000, you can buy a 53 square metre newly-built one bedroom apartment adjacent to Fitzroy Gardens in East Melbourne. The building features a business centre, pool and gym.


Auckland 1

  • Suburb: Auckland City, 0km from Auckland CBD
  • Bedrooms: 1
  • Bathrooms: 1
  • Parking spaces: 1

Across the ditch, our Kiwi neighbours have it tough when it comes to affordability as well. You can, however, find a one bedroom unit in the CBD for around $500,000.


London 1

London 2

  • Suburb: Penge, 12km from London CBD
  • Bedrooms: 1
  • Bathrooms: 1
  • Parking spaces: 1

In spite of having one of the higher per-square-metre property prices in the world, London doesn’t even make the top 10 of Demographia’s least affordable metropolitan areas. Half-a-million dollars in London will move you into this one bedroom flat in a Victorian era building.

New York

new york 1

New york 2

  • Suburb: Upper East Side, 11km from New York City
  • Bedrooms: Studio
  • Bathrooms: 1
  • Parking spaces: 0

While $500,000 might only buy you a studio apartment in Manhattan, it’s a studio in the desirable Upper East Side. The building has a full-time doorman and a rooftop garden.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong 1

Hong Kong 2

  • Suburb: Tsuen Wan, 17km from Central, Hong Kong
  • Bedrooms: 2

Hong Kong ranks as the least affordable housing market in the world, with a median price 19 times the median household income. A $500,000 house in Hong Kong is a mere 33 square metres, yet still manages to fit two bedrooms.


tokyo 1

toyko 2

  • Suburb: Asakusa, 0km from CBD
  • Bedrooms: 2

This 54 square metre two bedroom apartment in Tokyo puts you in walking distance to train stations, restaurants and shopping. It also carries a monthly maintenance fee of more than $350.


detroit 1

detroit 2

  • Suburb: Indian Village, 6km from downtown Detroit
  • Bedrooms: 5
  • Bathrooms: 4
  • Parking spaces: 2

Detroit was hard hit by the global financial crisis. The city has seen a resurgence, but property remains inexpensive. Half-a-million dollars in Detroit will get you five bedrooms, four bathrooms and nearly 300 square metres.


Paris 2

  • Suburb: 4eme, 1km from Palais Royal
  • Bedrooms: Studio
  • Bathrooms: 1
  • Parking spaces: 0

For $500,000 you can live out your romantic dreams in a very spare studio apartment in Paris. The building dates from 1680.


moscow 1

  • Suburb: Pushechnaya ul., 10km from Moscow-City
  • Bedrooms: 1
  • Bathrooms: 1
  • Parking spaces: 0

Moscow’s property market has seen a precipitous decline, dropping nearly 30% last year. Regardless, $500,000 still doesn’t go far in the city. You’ll be able to buy this 60 square metre, one bedroom apartment.

Cape Town

Cape town 1

Cape Town 2

  • Suburb: Constantia, 15km from Cape Town CBD
  • Bedrooms: 3
  • Bathrooms: 2
  • Parking spaces: 5

Cape Town ranks as the world’s ninth most dangerous city, according to World Atlas. But this more rurally-set three bedroom, two bathroom property appears fairly peaceful.


dubai 2

  • Suburb: Dubai Marina, 22km from Business Bay
  • Bedrooms: 1
  • Bathrooms: 2
  • Parking spaces: 1

Dubai has seen two straight years of house price declines, but remains an expensive market. For $500,000, you can get this one bedroom apartment in a development surrounded by four artificial lakes.

Mexico City

Mexico City 1

  • Suburb: La Magdalena Contreras, 10km from Santa Fe
  • Bedrooms: 3
  • Bathrooms: 3
  • Parking spaces: 5

Mexico City is one of the world’s most populous metropolitan areas, and one of the world’s most polluted. If you can tolerate the smog, however, $500,000 will buy you this very nice three bedroom house.



  • Suburb: Downtown Vancouver, 0km from Vancouver CBD
  • Bedrooms: 1
  • Bathrooms: 1

Vancouver sits just behind Sydney as the world’s third most unaffordable property market. Half-a-million dollars in Vancouver will buy you all of 34 square metres, albeit in a very nice building.



  • Suburb: Kandivali east, 45km from Belapur CBD
  • Bedrooms: 3
  • Bathrooms: 3
  • Parking spaces: 1

Property in Mumbai is becoming increasingly unaffordable, and the city is currently India’s most expensive property market. For $500,000, you can buy this three bedroom, three bathroom apartment. It’s spacious, at around 111 square metres.

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