The US ZIP code with the lowest affordability is California

California’s real estate market is a study in contrasts, especially when comparing the affordability of different regions within the state. At one end of the spectrum lies the small, unassuming town of Ridgecrest, located between the southern extremities of the Sequoia National Forest and the desolate expanses of Death Valley.

This area represents an oasis of affordability in California’s notoriously expensive housing landscape. According to a comprehensive analysis by American Home Shield, Ridgecrest boasts the most affordable housing market in the state, highlighted by a home price to household income ratio of just 3.61.

In stark contrast to the state’s median, the median home price in Ridgecrest’s ZIP code 93555 was reported at $260,617 in October 2023, a figure vastly more attainable than the overwhelming $743,014 median across California.

The affordability of Ridgecrest can be attributed to various factors, including its significant employment opportunities at the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, the town’s largest employer.

This military and research facility provides stable jobs for a significant portion of the population, contributing to the town’s lower cost of living. Additionally, Ridgecrest’s notable seismic activity, exemplified by the 2019 earthquakes, is a reminder of the natural challenges faced by residents.

Conversely, the epitome of unaffordability is encapsulated by the infamous Beverly Hills ZIP code 90210. In this luxurious enclave, the average home price is a staggering 34.82 times the average worker’s income, with median property values reaching an eye-watering $5.3 million.

This exorbitant figure places Beverly Hills at the zenith of inaccessibility not just in California, but across the entire United States.

The disparity doesn’t end with Ridgecrest and Beverly Hills. The analysis reveals that seven out of the ten least affordable ZIP codes in the country are located in California. This list includes areas such as Santa Monica’s 90402 and multiple ZIP codes within Los Angeles (90007, 90212, 90013, and 90004), as well as Berkeley’s 94704.

These figures paint a vivid picture of California’s skewed housing affordability, predominantly tilted towards the higher end of the market.

It’s worth noting that the study purposefully excluded ZIP codes with fewer than 10,000 residents to prevent the distortion of data by small, exceptionally wealthy enclaves like Atherton, frequently cited as one of America’s most expensive ZIP codes.

The contrasting real estate realities of Ridgecrest and Beverly Hills serve as a microcosm of California’s broader housing dilemmas. While Ridgecrest offers a semblance of hope for those seeking more affordable living options within the state, the overwhelming presence of California locales among the nation’s least affordable ZIP codes highlights the acute housing affordability crisis.

This situation presents considerable challenges for residents and policymakers alike and underscores the need for comprehensive strategies to address the state’s housing affordability issues.

The stark differences between Ridgecrest and Beverly Hills underscore the diverse economic landscapes within California, reflecting a state of extremes that continues to define the Golden State’s real estate market.

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