House hunters, look away now. If you want to feel even worse about Auckland's soaring property prices, check out what a million dollars can buy you in parts of the United States. That's US dollars, of course, the international benchmark for property. And don't imagine you'll be buying in New York or Los Angeles, where prices are even more overheated than Auckland. But if you head south to Dallas, Texas, or Las Vegas, Nevada, you can buy a palatial mansion for money that now buys a relatively small townhouse in a Grammar-zoned Auckland suburb. Why are they so cheap? For a start, American house prices overall are still much lower than New Zealand's, after the boom-and-bust US housing bubble in the last decade. The latest median US house price for January was only US$188,900 ($274,461), well short of this country's March figures of $495,000 nationally and $820,000 for Auckland. Texas also sidestepped the boom-bust cycle in the first place by making land available quickly for housing as demand grew - unlike in other US states and cities around the world in the last decade, including Auckland. As Dr Ali Anari, a research economist at Texas A&M University, reported in the university's Real Estate Center journal in 2013: "Texas had plenty of relatively low-cost land, combined with efficient statewide land acquisition and development processes." The state's affordable housing strategy appears to have worked. A median-priced home in Dallas is US$137,000 ($200,000), only three times a median household's annual income (which is similar to New Zealand pay levels). Here, a median house costs six times the median income - or 10 times the median income for Aucklanders. Houses in Las Vegas cost four times annual incomes but are kept in check by the after-effects of the housing crash, which were the worst in America. Twenty-one per cent of Las Vegas households are still "underwater", meaning their debt is greater than their home's value. In 2012 the figure was 71 per cent. Even assuming you like these US mansions on offer - and there are plenty more like this on US real estate site redfin.com - the question remains; would you want to live in Dallas or Las Vegas, instead of Auckland? According to this year's widely used Mercer Quality of Life survey, Auckland is the third-best city in the world to live in behind Vienna and Zurich, in first and second places respectively. Dallas ranks 63rd. Las Vegas (population 600,000) doesn't make the list of 230 but it would probably rank a few places behind Dallas. At this point, Auckland doesn't look so bad compared to the other top "liveable" cities on the list. The median Auckland house price of about $800,000 may not buy much here, but you would struggle to find a shoebox apartment for $1 million in Vienna or Zurich on real estate websites. Munich and Vancouver, which round out the Mercer top five, are almost as challenging. And if you really want to cheer yourself up, try spending $800,000 in the world's traditional top cities. According to figures from property data website homes.co.nz, you could get a 50sq m apartment in Paris, a run-down house in suburban LA or a 64sq m apartment in London. Just don't think about your palace in Las Vegas.