Dublin housing deemed ‘severely’ unaffordable

Demographia indicates Irish capital ranks 51st least-affordable city of 92 worldwide

During the pandemic, housing in Dublin moved from being “seriously” unaffordable to “severely” unaffordable, according to US think tank Demographia.

The distinction might seem meaningless in the context of our current housing woes but it’s based on the ratio of income to house prices, which captures the affordability better than just house prices on their own.

“Without consideration of incomes, housing affordability cannot be assessed with any real meaning for potential buyers,” Demographia says in its latest housing report.

Demographia uses what it calls the median multiple – which is the median house price divided by the gross median household income (pretax) – to measure and compare house price affordability across 92 cities worldwide.


A ratio of 3 or less is defined as affordable, 3.1-4 (moderately unaffordable), 4.1-5 (seriously unaffordable), 5 or more (severely unaffordable).

Prior to the pandemic, the ratio in Dublin was 4.6. By 2021, it had risen to 5.7. Despite the acuteness of our housing problem, Dublin was ranked as the 51st least-affordable city of 92 worldwide. In other words, there were 50 more expensive cities than the Irish capital.

The least affordable market was Hong Kong, with a median multiple of 23.2, followed by Sydney at 15.3, Vancouver at 13.3, San Jose at 12.6 and Melbourne at 12.1. The most affordable market was Pittsburgh in the US, at 2.7, followed by Oklahoma City and Rochester at 3.3, with Edmonton in Canada and St Louis in the US at 3.6.

Demographia says there was an unprecedented deterioration in housing affordability on the back of a “demand shock” during the pandemic. The number of severely unaffordable markets rose 60 per cent in 2021 compared to 2019, the last pre-pandemic year.

“There is a broad view that declining housing affordability is driving higher costs of living that threaten the future of the middle class,” it says. “In a well-functioning market, the median-priced house should be affordable to a large portion of middle-income households, as was overwhelmingly the case a few decades ago.”

As we know all too well here, that is becoming a very real issue in the Irish housing market.