The Most and Least Climate-Resilient Cities for Homeowners

Home insurance rates are skyrocketing due to increasingly severe weather. Insurify analyzed 100 metro areas to find the best and worst cities to avoid the damaging effects of climate change.

Cassie Sheets
Written byCassie Sheets
Cassie Sheets
Cassie SheetsData Journalist
  • 9 years writing data-driven content

  • Lifestyle contributor to 30+ local news sites

Cassie Sheets has a background in home and garden and real estate content. At Insurify, she translates industry jargon into insights that empower insurance buyers.

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Tanveen Vohra
Edited byTanveen Vohra
Tanveen Vohra
Tanveen VohraManager of Content and Communications
  • Property and casualty insurance specialist

  • 4+ years creating insurance content

Tanveen manages Insurify's data insights, annual home and auto insurance reports, and media communications. She’s regularly featured in media interviews on insurance topics.

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Published April 16, 2024 at 5:00 AM PDT

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Once relatively foreseeable, the cost of homeownership is becoming harder for homeowners to predict as insurance premiums increase. Insurify projects a 6% increase in U.S. home insurance rates by the end of 2024 — but homeowners in states with high climate risks, like Louisiana and South Carolina, could see double-digit rate hikes.

Rising home insurance rates are making 28% of homeowners nervous about the future, and another 12% worry they won’t be able to afford their homes, according to an Insurify survey.

Extreme climate events cost the nation an estimated $150 billion annually, the U.S. government’s Fifth National Climate Assessment found. The U.S. will see more frequent and severe weather events, including destructive wildfires and flash flooding, as climate change progresses, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

But some cities are better than others for homeowners hoping to avoid the effects of climate change. Insurify looked at multiple factors, from home insurance rates to FEMA National Risk Index (NRI) scores, to determine where homeowners would find the most and least stability as climate change progresses.

Key takeaways

  • One-quarter of U.S. homeowners feel climate change has affected the value of their homes, an Insurify survey found.

  • The U.S. saw 28 separate billion-dollar natural disasters in 2023 — the highest annual count in NOAA’s 44-year record.

  • Flooding costs $32.1 billion in average annual losses in the U.S., but a study from the science and technology journal Nature projects losses will increase to $40.6 billion by 2050.[1]

  • The average annual home insurance rate in the 10 worst metro areas to withstand climate change is $7,777 — 168% higher than the U.S. average of $2,899. Homeowners in the 10 best cities have an average annual rate of $1,347.

  • Pittsburgh is the best city for homeowners concerned about climate change. The average annual home insurance rate in the metro area ($1,126) is 61% cheaper than the national average of $2,899.

  • Cape Coral is the worst city for homeowners as climate change progresses. Six of the 10 worst cities for climate change are in Florida, and the state is currently experiencing an insurance crisis.

The 10 best cities to live in as climate change progresses

Insurify’s data scientists examined home values, home insurance costs, alternative transportation, and work-from-home rates in the 100 largest metro areas to determine where climate change is more likely and less likely to disrupt homeowners’ lives.

The total square footage of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) buildings and FEMA NRI community resiliency scores influenced each city’s overall score. FEMA’s expected annual loss score, which Insurify broke down per capita, is based on exposure, annualized frequency, and historical loss ratios.

Insurify used these factors to create a final climate change adaptability score. The following 10 cities scored the highest.

1. Pittsburgh, PA

  • Average annual home insurance cost: $1,126

  • NRI community resilience score: 89.9

  • NRI expected annual losses per capita: $23

Once a Gilded Age steel industry boomtown, Pittsburgh has grown beyond its roots and emerged as a hub for healthcare, business services, life sciences, and computer science. Home insurance here is 61% cheaper than the U.S. average of $2,899, and the city’s inland geography protects homeowners from climate-related rate hikes seen in coastal areas.

Pittsburgh still faces climate challenges, including poor air and water quality, aging infrastructure, flooding, landslides, and extreme temperatures. The Pittsburgh Green Government Task Force’s Climate Action Plan 3.0 outlines emission reduction and climate resiliency goals, including powering all city facilities with 100% clean energy by 2030.[2]

As part of the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities (100RC) initiative, Pittsburgh has adopted a resilience strategy that aims to preserve affordable housing, modernize energy systems, improve water and air quality, manage natural resources sustainably, improve stormwater management, and enhance the city’s green infrastructure.[3]

2. San Francisco, CA

  • Average annual home insurance cost: $1,785

  • NRI community resilience score: 86.7

  • NRI expected annual losses per capita: $20

Rising sea levels increase San Francisco’s flood risk, but a FEMA community resilience score of 86.7 out of 100 means the metro area is well-equipped to anticipate, withstand, and recover from climate catastrophes. A high earthquake risk contributes to San Francisco’s expected annual loss of $20 per capita.

San Francisco was the first city to complete a 100RC resilience plan. The plan emphasizes earthquake readiness and recovery strategies, including building code reforms, strengthening infrastructure, and promoting new hazard-resistant affordable housing developments.[4]

San Francisco homeowners still deal with some climate-related drawbacks. Along with a current lack of affordable housing, California faces a statewide insurance crisis. The Sustainable Insurance Strategy aims to entice insurers to stay in the state — but several insurance companies have withdrawn, and the strategy is still under review.

3. Seattle, WA

  • Average annual home insurance cost: $1,286

  • NRI community resilience score: 74.8

  • NRI expected annual losses per capita: $5

Seattle has the lowest per capita expected annual losses of the 100 most populated U.S. cities, at just $5, according to FEMA NRI estimates. Lower expected annual losses mean less risk of expensive natural disaster claims for insurers, reflected in Seattle’s lower-than-average home insurance rates.

Nearly 9% of Seattle’s residents carpool to work, and 7% take public transportation, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. But rapid population growth, driven by e-commerce and technology companies, has contributed to transportation congestion in Seattle.

Seattle’s 100RC strategy aims to make transportation more efficient and accessible. The city has also invested in mitigating the risk of its greatest natural hazard — earthquakes — including a $3.35 billion project to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Seattle’s Disaster Recovery Framework includes exploring ways to make earthquake insurance more affordable.[5]

4. Cleveland, OH

  • Average annual home insurance cost: $1,283

  • NRI community resilience score: 96.0

  • NRI expected annual losses per capita: $35

Cleveland is one of the most affordable major cities where homeowners face fewer unexpected costs due to climate change. The metro area’s median home value is less than $216,000, and its home insurance rate is 56% lower than the national average.

Located along Lake Erie, Cleveland faces increasing risks of flooding and severe storm damage, but the city is well-prepared to handle natural hazards. Cleveland ties for the fourth-highest community resilience among the metro areas Insurify analyzed, scoring 96 out of 100 on FEMA’s NRI.

Cleveland joined a bipartisan climate action coalition with 400 other cities after the U.S. withdrew from the Paris Climate Agreement in 2017. Since the Sustainable Cleveland initiative launched, the city has installed more than 70 miles of bike infrastructure, introduced a low-to-moderate-income solar program, and implemented a tree-planting plan.[6]

5. Boston, MA

  • Average annual home insurance cost: $2,133

  • NRI community resilience score: 93.4

  • NRI expected annual losses per capita: $79

Boston’s waterfront location and arterial Charles River increase flood risk. Still, the metro area’s high community resilience and lower-than-average home insurance rates could help homeowners ride out climate change. Coastal resilience projects mitigate flood damage through elevation projects, man-made barriers, and nature-based solutions.[7]

Boston has the highest home insurance rates among the 10 best cities for surviving climate change, but costs are still 26% lower than the U.S. average.

City initiatives to improve bike lanes and the trolley Track Improvement Program will serve the 9.7% of residents who take public transit to work, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Boston is also one of the most walkable cities in the U.S., with an 83 out of 100 score from Walk Score.

6. Washington, D.C.

  • Average annual home insurance cost: $1,203

  • NRI community resilience score: 56.9

  • NRI expected annual losses per capita: $70

Lower-than-average insurance rates and robust public transportation make Washington, D.C., one of the best cities to avoid climate change. The D.C. metro area has the second-highest percentage of residents commuting by alternative transportation or working from home (41%) out of the 100 areas Insurify analyzed, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

Washington, D.C., also has the most LEED-certified building square footage, at 86 square feet per capita. Buildings must meet emission reduction, energy efficiency, public health, and environmental requirements to achieve LEED certification.

7. Portland, OR

  • Average annual home insurance cost: $1,161

  • NRI community resilience score: 71.7

  • NRI expected annual losses per capita: $10

Portland homeowners pay about 60% less for home insurance than the national average, and expected annual losses from natural hazards are just $10 per capita, according to FEMA’s NRI. In 1993, Portland became the first U.S. city to create a local plan to decrease carbon emissions.

Nearly 36% of Portland metro area residents commute via alternative transportation or work from home, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. More than 400 miles of bikeways make it easy to cycle around the city, earning Portland an 83 out of 100 bike score from Walk Score.

Models predict the Pacific Northwest will see more precipitation during the winter and fewer but stronger storms as climate change progresses, which could increase the flood risk in Portland. The Portland metro area addresses the risk by fostering healthy native ecosystems and protecting and restoring headwaters, wetlands, and floodplains.[8]

8. Syracuse, NY

  • Average annual home insurance cost: $1,214

  • NRI community resilience score: 88.3

  • NRI expected annual losses per capita: $28

Syracuse is an affordable city for homeowners to avoid the effects of climate change. Average homeowners insurance rates are 58% below the U.S. average, and the city has a high FEMA community resilience score. Syracuse is also among the 10 best cities for homebuyers with a household income of $75,000.

Syracuse is poised to be a climate refuge city, with milder weather and geographic features that insulate it from natural hazards.[9] The city invests $1.8 billion annually in climate resilience infrastructure, representing 9.7% of its total annual capital budget.[10]

An $8 million study to implement flood storage along Onondaga Creek could protect downstream property in highly populated areas. As temperatures rise, Syracuse’s Urban Forest Master Plan aims to increase the tree canopy from 27% to 34% by planting an additional 57,400 trees over 20 years.

9. Harrisburg, PA

  • Average annual home insurance cost: $1,064

  • NRI community resilience score: 94.8

  • NRI expected annual losses per capita: $86

At $1,064, Harrisburg’s average annual home insurance rate is 63% less than the national average and the lowest among the 10 best cities for enduring climate change.

But Harrisburg’s geography isn’t without climate challenges. Bisected by the Susquehanna River, almost half of Harrisburg properties have a greater than 26% chance of flooding over the next 30 years.[11]

Plans to build a flood wall proposed after Hurricane Agnes in 1972 have stalled indefinitely, but the U.S. Army Corps Silver Jacket program has developed flood inundation mapping for Harrisburg. Despite growing flood risks, Harrisburg has a high community resilience score — 94.8 out of 100 — according to FEMA’s NRI.

10. Buffalo, NY

  • Average annual home insurance cost: $1,218

  • NRI community resilience score: 93.6

  • NRI expected annual losses per capita: $21

Buffalo homeowners pay 58% less for home insurance than the U.S. average, and FEMA’s expected annual losses per capita total just $21. The city also has high community resilience, according to FEMA’s NRI.

Located in upstate New York and just over 150 miles from Syracuse, Buffalo is also a climate haven. Proximity to the Great Lakes will keep Buffalo cooler as temperatures rise, but it may also increase the severity of winter storms and heavy precipitation.

Buffalo obtained $220,000 in funding from the Department of Environmental Conservation Climate Smart Communities grant program. The city is working with a consultant and community partners to assess vulnerabilities and create climate action and adaptation plans.

The 10 worst cities to live in as climate change progresses

Homeowners face costly damages and higher insurance rates in cities prone to climate catastrophes. Florida, the least affordable state for home insurance, is overrepresented, with six cities among the 10 worst areas to avoid the effects of climate change. The state is currently experiencing an insurance crisis driven by billion-dollar natural disasters.

1. Cape Coral, FL

  • Average annual home insurance cost: $10,071

  • NRI community resilience score: 9.2

  • NRI expected annual losses per capita: $587

Coastal Florida cities have seen insurance rates skyrocket as insurers struggle to pay claims from costly climate catastrophes. Average annual home insurance rates in Cape Coral exceed $10,000 compared to the U.S. average of $2,899.

Cape Coral has the second-highest chronic physical risk from the effects of climate change, meaning the area will see more unprecedented changes over time, according to a Moody’s Analytics climate change forecast.[12] Chronic physical risk reflects heat, sea-level rise, and water stress (when the water demand exceeds availability).

The city also faces acute physical risks. Hurricane Ian demolished an estimated 5,000 homes in Lee County alone in 2022. Florida’s insured property losses from Hurricane Ian cost between $40 billion and $64 billion, CoreLogic estimates.

2. Palm Bay, FL

  • Average annual home insurance cost: $9,898

  • NRI community resilience score: 59.8

  • NRI expected annual losses per capita: $675

Palm Bay’s high home insurance costs and expected annual losses per capita make it the second-worst place to avoid the effects of climate change. Nearly 48% of residents have experienced flooding in the past five years, and 46% have seen wind or hail damage, an East Central Florida Regional Planning Council survey found.[13]

As sea levels rise, flooding is likely to disrupt daily life for Palm Bay residents, according to Risk Factor. The reversal of El Niño, a periodic warming of the Pacific Ocean that affects weather patterns across the country, could also cause a more severe hurricane season in 2024 — and Palm Bay is at risk of costly damages.[14]

3. Miami, FL

  • Average annual home insurance cost: $16,823

  • NRI community resilience score: 36.3

  • NRI expected annual losses per capita: $450

Miami homeowners are already feeling the effects of climate change. The city has the second-highest home insurance costs in the country, with an average annual rate of nearly $17,000.

A two-meter sea-level rise (SLR) could affect almost a million Miami-Dade County residents and put $129 billion in property at risk. NOAA projects a 2.1-meter SLR by the year 2100.[15]

The Miami Forever Climate Ready aims to reduce disruptions from floods, extreme heat, storms, and hurricanes. The strategy includes plans to build green stormwater infrastructure and community-serving resilience hubs to distribute information and resources before and after natural disasters.[16]

4. North Port, FL

  • Average annual home insurance cost: $6,066

  • NRI community resilience score: 16.3

  • NRI expected annual losses per capita: $571

North Port’s average annual home insurance rate is $3,167 more than the national average, and expected annual losses per capita exceed $571. Sarasota County is in the 98th percentile for natural hazard risk, according to the FEMA NRI.

Increasingly severe winds put North Port homeowners at an increased risk of damage from hurricanes, tornadoes, or severe storms, according to Risk Factor. The city has a 57% risk of experiencing at least one flood over five feet by 2050 due to rising sea levels.[17]

North Port added a natural resources division in 2023 to protect green space and wildlife from rapid development. The city has also started updating the Unified Land Development Code with new environmental standards but hasn’t adopted it “due to unforeseen circumstances.”[18]

5. Baton Rouge, LA

  • Average annual home insurance cost: $4,125

  • NRI community resilience score: 64.5

  • NRI expected annual losses per capita: $787

Louisiana homeowners have the second-highest home insurance costs in the country and will see the greatest rate increase in 2024 (23%), according to Insurify projections. Baton Rouge residents pay 35% less for insurance than the statewide average but 30% more than the U.S. average. Expected annual losses are also high, at $787 per capita, according to the FEMA NRI.

Baton Rouge was spared from the worst of Hurricane Ida due to a last-minute shift, but the city faces hurricane, flood, and severe storm risks. Extreme winds put homes valued at a collective $67.4 billion at risk in the Baton Rouge metro area, according to a study by Realtor.com®.

The city’s stormwater master plan includes developing trails and wildlife corridors that double as drainage areas. Unified Development Code revisions aim to protect against flooding with new standards for stormwater facilities.[19]

6. Charleston, SC

  • Average annual home insurance cost: $5,125

  • NRI community resilience score: 79.1

  • NRI expected annual losses per capita: $791

Charleston homeowners have high home insurance costs and expected annual losses of $791 per capita, according to FEMA’s NRI. The Carolina coast, stretching from Jacksonville, North Carolina, to Charleston, South Carolina, faces the greatest acute hazard risk among metro areas due to climate change, according to Moody’s Analytics.

The city faces an increasing risk of coastal flooding and will experience 14 inches of SLR by 2050, NOAA predicts.[20] Extreme wind places $155.7 billion worth of residential property at risk, according to Realtor.com®.

Charleston’s strategies to address flooding include investing in drainage and tidal management infrastructure, creating and implementing a disaster recovery plan, and updating zoning codes to include SLR, land elevation, and future water levels to guide development.[21]

7. Houston, TX

  • Average annual home insurance cost: $5,511

  • NRI community resilience score: 27.9

  • NRI expected annual losses per capita: $507

Houston’s low NRI community resilience score, high home insurance costs, and growing hurricane and flooding risks make it one of the least climate change-resistant cities.

Homeowners face a 25% chance of hurricane impact in 2024, according to Colorado State University’s forecast. Hurricane Harvey’s storm surge in 2017 affected nearly 214,000 Houston properties. Houston is also at major risk of flooding; 64% of properties have a 26% or greater chance of being severely affected over the next 30 years, according to Risk Factor.

The city’s Resilient Houston plan includes restoring native plants to the bayous to support stormwater management, improve air quality, and mitigate urban heat. The plan also calls for removing all habitable structures in the floodway by 2030 and preventing new development in vulnerable areas.

8. Tampa, FL

  • Average annual home insurance cost: $6,066

  • NRI community resilience score: 25.3

  • NRI expected annual losses per capita: $383

Home insurance rates in Tampa are more than double the national average. The metro area has a low community resilience score of 25.3 out of 100, according to FEMA’s NRI.

Extreme wind puts $463.7 billion worth of Tampa Bay Area homes at risk, Realtor.com® reported. SLR and warming temperatures will make Tampa’s storms and storm surges more destructive, according to ClimateCheck. The city also faces a growing risk of extreme heat.

Tampa’s Climate Action and Equity Plan includes strategies to increase the supply of affordable housing in less vulnerable areas and provide community resources to fortify existing housing against flooding, hurricanes, and severe storms.

9. Deltona, FL

  • Average annual home insurance cost: $8,898

  • NRI community resilience score: 43.5

  • NRI expected annual losses per capita: $282

Deltona’s severe wind and hurricane risks contribute to home insurance rates that are nearly $6,000 more per year than the national average. More than 80% of Deltona properties also face a moderate wildfire risk over the next 30 years, according to Risk Factor.

In April 2023, Volusia County homeowners sued the City of Deltona for opening its flood control structure and redirecting “hundreds of millions of gallons of floodwaters” to Stone Island during Hurricane Ian.[22] Six months later, city commissioners approved a plan to seek flood mitigation grants for Deltona residents.

10. McAllen, TX

  • Average annual home insurance cost: $5,184

  • NRI community resilience score: 1.1

  • NRI expected annual losses per capita: $201

Located about 80 miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico, McAllen’s high climate risks and low NRI community resilience score make the impact of climate change unpredictable.

McAllen has a moderate risk of flooding, a severe risk of high winds and hurricanes, and an extreme heat risk, according to Risk Factor. In the McAllen metro area, $38 billion worth of residential properties are at risk of damage from severe winds, according to Realtor.com®.

The McAllen metro area’s Priority Climate Action Plan outlines strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and developing sidewalks, trails, bike lanes, pedestrian paths, and transit corridors. Less than 1% of metro area residents currently take public transit to work.

Mitigating climate damage to your home

“Regardless of where you live, it is important to understand the weather or wildfire risk your home may face to make it as resilient as possible,” said Ian Giammanco, managing director of standards and data analytics for the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS).  “No home is 100% hurricane-, tornado-, or wildfire-proof.”

The IBHS Research Center tests building standards and materials on life-size models by recreating severe weather events. The IBHS incorporated its findings into its Wildfire Prepared Home and FORTIFIED construction and roofing standards.

“The roof is a home’s first line of defense and can be strengthened with enhanced roof deck attachments … a sealed roof deck, and locked edges,” said Giammanco. In hurricane-prone areas, homeowners can mitigate damage with impact-resistant windows.

Fortifying homes against natural hazards can be a significant up-front investment but could qualify homeowners for insurance discounts. Installing an IBHS-sanctioned FORTIFIED roof could also help homeowners secure coverage in states like Florida, where insurance companies have scaled back on writing policies for homes with older roofs.

Methodology

Insurify’s data science team analyzed home insurance costs, home values, percentage of residents working from home or commuting via alternative transportation, LEED-certified square footage per capita, and FEMA’s NRI community resilience score and expected losses to people and buildings from 10 climate-influenced natural disasters in the 100 most populous metro areas.

Insurify used these factors to create a final climate change adaptability score.

Ranking FactorScore Weight*
FEMA NRI expected annual losses35%
FEMA NRI community resilience scores24%
Annual home insurance rate12%
Home values12%
Percentage of residents working from home or commuting via alternative transportation12%
LEED-certified square feet per capita6%

*Weights do not add up to exactly 100% due to rounding.

Home insurance rates reflect the costs of $300,000 in coverage for a three-bedroom, two-bath frame house with an asphalt roof. Rates come from Insurify’s real-time database of quotes from partner insurance companies and aggregated rate filings from Quadrant Information Services.

Sources

  1. Wing, O.E.J., Lehman, W., Bates, P.D. et al. "Inequitable patterns of US flood risk in the Anthropocene. Nat. Clim. Chang. 12, 156–162 (2022)."
  2. The City of Pittsburgh. "Climate Action."
  3. Resilient Cities Network. "Pittsburgh."
  4. One San Francisco. "Resilient SF."
  5. Seattle.gov. "Emergency Management Plans."
  6. Sustainable Cleveland. "Cleveland Climate Action Plan."
  7. Climate Ready Boston. "Coastal Resilience Project Tracker."
  8. Oregon Metro News. "Climate change in greater Portland: global change, local effects."
  9. Erin Morris, Joshua J. Cousins, Andrea Feldpausch-Parker. "Transformation and recognition: Planning just climate havens in New York State, Environmental Science & Policy, Volume 146, 2023."
  10. New York State Comptroller. "New York's Local Governments Adapting to Climate Change: Challenges, Solutions and Costs."
  11. Risk Factor. "Does Harrisburg have Flood Risk?."
  12. Moody's Analytics. "The Impact of Climate Change on U.S. Subnational Economies."
  13. The City of Palm Bay. "Social & Economic Vulnerability Assessment."
  14. Climate Adaptation Center. "El Nino and the 2024 Hurricane Season."
  15. Nadia A Seeteram et al 2023 Environ. Res. Lett. 18. "Modes of climate mobility under sea-level rise."
  16. The City of Miami. "Miami Forever Climate Ready."
  17. Risk Factor. "Surging Seas Risk Finder, North Port, Florida, USA."
  18. The City of North Port. "Unified Land Development Code Update."
  19. The City of Baton Rouge. "Environment and Conservation."
  20. The City of Charleston. "Flooding & Sea Level Rise Strategy."
  21. The City of Charleston. "Strategic Plan."
  22. Florida Politics. "Volusia County homeowners blame City of Deltona for sending Hurricane Ian floods right at them."
Cassie Sheets
Cassie SheetsData Journalist

Cassie Sheets has more than nine years of experience creating compelling content for clients, brands, and local news sites. She started her career at Movoto Real Estate, where she transformed dry data into interesting insights for potential homebuyers. She’s since covered a wide range of topics, from pop culture news to home and garden trends.

Before joining Insurify, Cassie wrote engaging landing pages and blog posts for medical practices at MyAdvice. Now, she uses her knack for diving into the latest data and pulling out key details to empower insurance buyers.

Cassie holds a BFA in Creative Writing from Columbia College Chicago. In her free time, you can find her exploring the city with her dog, trying not to fall over in yoga classes, and petting cats at the shelter.

Tanveen Vohra
Edited byTanveen VohraManager of Content and Communications
Tanveen Vohra
Tanveen VohraManager of Content and Communications
  • Property and casualty insurance specialist

  • 4+ years creating insurance content

Tanveen manages Insurify's data insights, annual home and auto insurance reports, and media communications. She’s regularly featured in media interviews on insurance topics.

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