The Most Affordable and Least Disaster Prone Places to Live

Providence, Rhode Island, Detroit, Michigan and Hartford, Connecticut are the least disaster-prone metro areas in the country, according to a new study released by Redfin. Redfin has positioned itself as “the technology-powered real estate brokerage.” In a new report, Redfin rated the 50 biggest metro areas according to their relative frequency of five major types of natural disasters—earthquakes, fires, floods, tornadoes, and hurricanes—using a new metric called the “Natural Disaster Hazard Score.”

Each of the five areas are measured on a scale of one to 100, where 100 is the most dangerous metro area for the category and one is the least hazardous. The overall Natural Disaster Hazard Score is an average of the five components’ frequencies.

Metros with low Natural Disaster Hazard Score ratings, ironically, tend to have relatively affordable housing markets. Nine of the 10 least hazardous metro areas have median home prices below the $287,400 national median. Salt Lake City is the exception, ranking as the eighth-least hazard-prone metro area with a Natural Disaster Hazard Score of 16 and a median home price of $320,000.

Equally ironic is the fact that the most disaster-prone metros, including Washington, D.C. (52), Los Angeles (52) and New York (41), have home prices well above the national median. These three areas also tend to be near the top of Redfin’s list of origins common among online home-searchers looking to relocate to more affordable, inland housing markets, like Las Vegas, which ranks fourth among the safest-rated metros. These searches could be a harbinger of things to come in these markets.

“When you buy a home you are paying for more than just the house,” said Redfin chief economist Daryl Fairweather. “There could be hidden costs associated with natural disasters. If a natural disaster strikes, you may have to pay for damage to your home or for the cost of evacuating your family. And even during times of calm, you may still need to pay for insurance against floods, fire, or earthquakes. Some homes in more hazardous areas might seem more affordable if you are just looking at the sticker price, but they may end up costing more when risks related to natural disasters are factored in.”

In addition to high home prices in cities like Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and New York, the possibility of natural disasters may be another factor driving homebuyers away from the coasts. When hurricanes, fires, earthquakes and floods are factored into the equation, the affordable inland metros are even more attractive destinations.

Below is a ranking of the 50 largest metro areas from least-to-most hazard-prone, according to Redfin’s Natural Disaster Hazard Score:

Rank

Metro Area

Natural
Disaster
Hazard
Score

Median
Home
Price (Feb.
2019)

Earthquakes

Fires

Floods

Tornadoes

Hurricanes

1

Providence, RI

9

$255,000

0

0

0

0

44

2

Detroit, MI

10

$125,000

0

0

41

0

7

3

Hartford, CT

11

$196,000

0

0

12

0

44

4

Las Vegas, NV

12

$275,000

0

41

12

0

7

5

Milwaukee, WI

14

$190,000

0

0

36

26

7

6

Indianapolis, IN

14

$170,000

0

0

18

46

7

7

Buffalo, NY

15

$145,000

0

24

22

0

28

8

Salt Lake City, UT

16

$320,000

0

32

22

26

0

9

Raleigh, NC

16

$286,000

0

0

0

26

56

10

Nashville, TN

16

$279,000

0

0

29

46

7

11

Baltimore, MD

18

$250,000

0

0

47

0

44

12

Denver, CO

20

$400,000

0

48

29

26

0

13

Columbus, OH

23

$195,000

0

0

29

78

7

14

Cleveland, OH

23

$139,000

0

0

29

60

28

15

Phoenix, AZ

24

$267,000

0

48

63

0

7

16

Cincinnati, OH

24

$177,000

0

0

68

46

7

17

Boston, MA

24

$452,000

0

24

41

0

56

18

San Jose, CA

25

$1,040,000

58

37

22

0

7

19

San Diego, CA

25

$561,000

0

70

51

0

7

20

Louisville, KY

26

$182,000

0

0

75

46

7

21

Charlotte, NC

27

$235,000

0

0

22

46

65

22

Orlando, FL

27

$249,000

0

45

5

26

60

23

Pittsburgh, PA

28

$155,000

0

0

58

46

35

24

Richmond, VA

28

$232,000

58

0

18

0

65

25

San Francisco, CA

30

$1,280,000

58

32

51

0

7

26

Atlanta, GA

30

$235,000

0

0

5

100

44

27

Jacksonville, FL

30

$222,000

0

45

5

26

74

28

Tampa, FL

30

$225,000

0

43

5

26

78

29

Chicago, IL

30

$230,000

0

0

75

70

7

30

Virginia Beach, VA

30

$220,000

0

0

12

46

94

31

Miami, FL

30

$295,000

0

32

5

26

90

32

Sacramento, CA

31

$385,000

58

51

36

0

7

33

Seattle, WA

33

$547,000

81

0

83

0

0

34

Memphis, TN

33

$166,000

0

0

58

78

28

35

Philadelphia, PA

33

$190,000

0

29

68

0

69

36

St. Louis, MO

33

$165,000

0

0

100

60

7

37

Birmingham, AL

34

$189,000

0

32

29

60

50

38

San Antonio, TX

34

$218,000

0

56

41

0

74

39

Kansas City, MO

35

$200,000

0

0

75

70

28

40

Oklahoma City, OK

37

$174,000

0

67

51

60

7

41

Dallas, TX

37

$285,000

0

63

47

26

50

42

Portland, OR

37

$390,000

81

37

68

0

0

43

New Orleans, LA

39

$210,000

0

0

68

26

100

44

Minneapolis, MN

40

$265,000

0

24

91

78

7

45

Houston, TX

41

$232,000

0

51

68

26

60

46

Austin, TX

41

$296,000

0

73

58

26

50

47

New York, NY

41

$380,000

0

37

75

26

69

48

Riverside, CA

47

$366,000

58

96

75

0

7

49

Los Angeles, CA

52

$600,000

100

100

51

0

7

50

Washington, D.C.

52

$380,000

58

29

63

26

82

To view the full report, complete with methodology and an interactive map, please visit: https://www.redfin.com/blog/natural-disaster-hazard-score-by-metro-area.

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