7. San Mateo County, Calif.
> Affordability rate: 57.4%
> Historical avg. affordability: 57.9%
> Household median income: $87,751
> Population density: 1,621.8 per sq. mile
San Mateo County lies just south of San Francisco and is home to a number of large companies, including Gilead Sciences, Oracle and Facebook. San Mateo has some of the most expensive home prices of any county in the nation. Although the area’s median household income was estimated at $87,751 — far better than most metro areas — high home prices and high rents make living in the area increasingly less affordable for middle-class Californians. As of 2013, the average home price in San Mateo County was more than $700,000, higher than all but three counties in the nation.
6. Pitkin County, Colo.
> Affordability rate: 64.6%
> Historical avg. affordability: 82.2%
> Household median income: $68,621
> Population density: 17.6 per sq. mile
Pitkin County’s proximity to many mountains makes the area an ideal spot for tourism. The county is mainly comprised of ski village communities like Aspen, Ashcroft, Snowmass and Redstone. Like other seasonal vacation spots reviewed, it is likely that home prices are pushed higher by seasonal residents who wish to own a home in these trendy and wealthy communities. In Pitkin County, more than 64% of median household incomes is required for mortgage payments on a median-priced home. Still, by this measure, Pitkin County is more than twice as affordable today as it was in 2007, when the affordability rate was 156.7%.
5. Bronx County, N.Y.
> Affordability rate: 67.5%
> Historical avg. affordability: 73.0%
> Household median income: $34,300
> Population density: 33,067.1 per sq. mile
Bronx County is relatively poor. Those who live in the area had a median household income of $34,300 — nearly the lowest of the counties reviewed. The area’s unemployment rate was 10.6% in May 2014, and almost 30% of residents lived below the poverty line. Yet residents may choose to pay a premium to live in close proximity to the large economic centers located within metropolitan New York. The metro area had a gross metropolitan product of over $1.3 trillion, the highest of all metropolitan areas. Average home prices were also among some of the highest reviewed. Bronx County residents spent 67.5% of their median annual income on mortgage payments for a median-priced home.