Detroit, Indianapolis, and Buffalo are among the least disaster-prone cities to live in. What's more, these are also among the most affordable for housing, according to an analysis by Redfin.
For this study, Redfin analyzed the frequency of five major types of natural disasters—earthquakes, fires, floods, tornadoes, and hurricanes—in the 50 most populous U.S. metro areas. These areas were then ranked according to a metric called the Natural Disaster Hazard Score.
Each of the five components was measured on a scale of one to 100, with 100 being the most hazardous metro area for the category. The average of the five components’ frequencies was then taken to get the overall Natural Disaster Hazard Score.
“When you buy a home you are paying for more than just the house,” said Daryl Fairweather, Chief Economist at Redfin. “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.”
While Providence, Rhode Island topped this list with a Natural Disaster Hazard Score of nine, it was Detroit, placed second with a score of 10, that topped the list in terms of home affordability. Median home sale prices in the Motor City averaged $125,000
Hartford, Connecticut, Las Vegas, and Milwaukee rounded off the top five on this list with Natural Disaster Hazard Scores of 11, 12, and 14 respectively. Indianapolis and Buffalo which ranked sixth and seventh for their overall natural disaster scores were also among the most affordable for housing with median home sale prices at $170,000 and $145,000 respectively.
Salt Lake City, Raleigh, North Carolina, and Nashville, Tennessee were also among the 10 least risky cities for natural disasters.
With scores of 52 each, Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles were the most at-risk cities for natural disasters according to the study. While residents in the country's capitals faced risks of hurricanes and flooding, Los Angeles was found to be most at risk from earthquakes and wildfires. These are also the most expensive cities on the list to buy a home with median sale prices of $380,000 and $600,000 respectively.