What does this measure?
The median home value divided by the median household income, adjusted for inflation.
Why is this important?
The ratio provides a rough estimate of the affordability of homes in a community. A ratio less than 2 or 3 is generally considered affordable.
How is our county doing?
In 2017-21, homes were not generally very affordable in Essex County, with an affordability ratio of 5.3. This was slightly higher than the state (4.8) and higher than the national ratio (3.5). Housing affordability in Essex County rose slightly since 2012-16, when the ratio was 5.1, and was higher than the 2000 level of 4.0.
The least affordable municipalities in Essex County were Lawrence (6.6), Rockport (6.5) and Nahant (6.1). The most affordable were Groveland (3.4), and Georgetown and West Newbury (both at 3.7) - all still above the levels considered affordable. Notably, the City of Lawrence, which had the lowest median home value in Essex County in 2017-21, was not particularly affordable, with a ratio of 6.6. This likely reflects the City's relatively low median household income in 2017-21, which was the lowest in the County.
How do we compare to similar counties?
In 2017-21, Essex County was similar to Middlesex, MA and Westchester, NY (at 5.1 and 5.3 respectively) and less affordable than Lake, IL (2.9). Like Essex, Middlesex, MA and Westchester, NY became less affordable from 2000 to 2017-21, while Lake County, IL affordabilty returned to its 2000 level in 2017-21.
Notes about the data
Multiyear figures are from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey. The bureau combined five years of responses to the survey to provide estimates for smaller geographic areas and increase the precision of its estimates. The survey provides data on characteristics of the population that used to be collected only during the decennial census. Data for this indicator are released annually in December.