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Mapped: The Salary You Need to Buy a Home in 50 U.S. Cities

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Check out the latest 2023 update of the salary needed to buy a home in the U.S.

Salary to buy a home

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This is the Salary You Need to Buy a Home in 50 U.S. Cities

Check out the latest 2023 update of the salary needed to buy a home in the U.S.

Depending on where you live, owning a home may seem like a far off dream or it could be fairly realistic. In New York City, for example, a person needs to be making at least six figures to buy a home, but in Cleveland you could do it with just over $45,000 a year.

This visual, using data from Home Sweet Home, maps out the annual salary you’d need for home ownership in 50 different U.S. cities.

Note: The map above refers to entire metro areas and uses Q1 2022 data on median home prices. The necessary salary was calculated by the source, looking at the base cost of principal, interest, property tax, and homeowner’s insurance.

Home Ownership Across the U.S.

San Jose is by far the most expensive city when it comes to purchasing a home. A person would need to earn over $330,000 annually to pay off the mortgage at a monthly rate of $7,718.

Here’s a closer look at the numbers:

RankMetro AreaMedian Home PriceSalary Needed
#1San Jose$1,875,000$330,758
#2San Francisco$1,380,000$249,685
#3San Diego$905,000$166,828
#4Los Angeles$792,500$149,127
#5Seattle$746,200$140,768
#6Boston$639,000$130,203
#7New York City$578,100$129,459
#8Denver$662,200$121,888
#9Austin$540,700$114,679
#10Washington, D.C.$553,000$110,327
#11Portland$570,500$109,267
#12Riverside/San Bernardino$560,000$106,192
#13Sacramento$545,000$105,934
#14Miami$530,000$103,744
#15Salt Lake City$556,900$100,970
#16Providence$406,700$88,477
#17Phoenix$474,500$86,295
#18Las Vegas$461,100$84,116
#19Raleigh$439,100$83,561
#20Dallas$365,400$81,165
#21Orlando$399,900$79,573
#22Chicago$325,400$76,463
#23Tampa$379,900$75,416
#24Houston$330,800$74,673
#25Minneapolis$355,800$74,145
#26Baltimore$350,900$73,803
#27Nashville$387,200$73,502
#28Jacksonville$365,900$73,465
#29Hartford$291,000$73,165
#30Charlotte$379,900$72,348
#31San Antonio$321,100$70,901
#32Atlanta$350,300$69,619
#33Philadelphia$297,900$69,569
#34Richmond$354,500$68,629
#35Milwaukee$298,800$65,922
#36Kansas City$287,400$60,507
#37Columbus$274,300$59,321
#38Virginia Beach$289,900$59,245
#39New Orleans$281,100$57,853
#40Birmingham$289,500$55,662
#41Indianapolis$271,600$53,586
#42Memphis$259,300$52,691
#43Cincinnati$244,300$51,840
#44Buffalo$202,300$51,525
#45Detroit$224,300$50,302
#46St Louis$216,700$48,988
#47Louisville$235,400$48,121
#48Cleveland$192,700$45,448
#49Oklahoma City$198,200$45,299
#50Pittsburgh$185,700$42,858

Perhaps surprisingly, Boston residents need slightly higher earnings than New Yorkers to buy a home. The same is also true in Seattle and Los Angeles. Meanwhile, some of the cheapest cities to start buying up real estate in are Oklahoma City and Cleveland.

As of April, the rate of home ownership in the U.S. is 65%. This number represents the share of homes that are occupied by the owner, rather than rented out or vacant.

The American Dream Home

As of the time of this data (Q1 2022), the national yearly fixed mortgage rate sat at 4% and median home price at $368,200. This put the salary needed to buy a home at almost $76,000⁠—the median national household income falls almost $9,000 below that.

But what kind of homes are people looking to purchase? Depending on where you live the type of home and square footage you can get will be very different.

In New York City, for example, there are fairly few stand-alone, single-family houses in the traditional sense⁠—only around 4,000 are ever on the market. People in the Big Apple tend to buy condominiums or multi-family units.

Additionally, if you’re looking for luxury, not even seven figures will get you much in the big cities. In Miami, a million dollars will only buy you 833 square feet of prime real estate.

One thing is for sure: the typical American dream home of the big house with a yard and white picket fence is more attainable in smaller metro areas with ample suburbs.

Buying vs. Renting

The U.S. median household income is $67,500, meaning that today the typical family could only afford a home in about 15 of the 50 metro areas highlighted above, including New Orleans, Buffalo, and Indianapolis.

With the income gap widening in the U.S., the rental market remains a more attractive option for many, especially as prices are finally tapering off. The national median rent price was down nearly 3% from June to July for two-bedroom apartments.

At the end of the day, buying a home can be an important investment and may provide a sense of security, but it will be much easier to do in certain types of cities.

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Money

Mapped: What You Need to Earn to Own a Home in 50 American Cities

What does it take to own a home in the U.S. in 2023? Here’s a look at the salary needed for home ownership in the top 50 metro areas.

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A cropped map of the U.S. with the median home price as well as the salary needed to own a home 50 American cities.

What You Need to Earn to Own a Home in 50 American Cities

Once a fundamental part of the American dream, the ability to own a home is drifting farther and farther away for many Americans.

Between skyrocketing prices, stagnating wages, and now rising interest rates, the deck seems to be increasingly stacked against home ownership.

Using May 2023 data tabulated by Home Sweet Home, we map out the annual salary needed to afford a 30-year mortgage (at 6.37%) to buy a home in America’s 50 most populous metropolitan areas.

The monthly minimum mortgage payment includes taxes and insurance as well, and is capped at roughly one-third of the income. This analysis also assumes that the homeowner will put down a 20% down payment.

The Least and Most Affordable American Cities to Own a Home

At the top of the list, and at the very west of the country, San Jose is the least affordable city to own a home for the average American.

One would have to earn at least $374,000 a year to afford a $1.6 million dollar home in the city.

To put those numbers into perspective, the median American annual income is $75,000, about one-fifth what’s required to buy a home in San Jose.

Here’s a look at the annual earnings needed to afford a home in all 50 largest cities in the U.S., ranked from least to most affordable.

RankMetro AreaStateMedian Home PriceAnnual Salary
1San JoseCalifornia$1,618,400$373,696
2San FranciscoCalifornia$1,192,600$282,167
3San DiegoCalifornia$880,000$209,110
4Los AngelesCalifornia$746,800$181,106
5SeattleWashington$699,300$170,340
6BostonMassachusetts$644,400$165,239
7New York CityNew York$577,300$160,233
8DenverColorado$636,100$150,622
9Washington, D.C.N/A$557,200$139,911
10MiamiFlorida$560,000$137,574
11PortlandOregon$556,800$136,147
12Riverside/San
Bernardino
California$550,000$133,607
13AustinTexas$467,900$128,995
14SacramentoCalifornia$500,000$125,304
15Salt Lake CityUtah$522,700$122,717
16ProvidenceRhode Island$417,000$112,281
17OrlandoFlorida$419,900$104,772
18DallasTexas$372,400$103,460
19PhoenixArizona$439,700$103,112
20RaleighNorth Carolina$420,000$102,572
21Las VegasNevada$431,400$101,310
22TampaFlorida$390,000$97,387
23MinneapolisMichigan$361,500$94,466
24HartfordConnecticut$314,900$93,861
25CharlotteNorth Carolina$387,200$93,735
26JacksonvilleFlorida$370,000$93,422
27BaltimoreMaryland$357,800$93,378
28NashvilleTennessee$385,800$93,168
29ChicagoIllinois$321,000$92,868
30HoustonTexas$327,000$91,826
31MilwaukeeWisconsin$339,600$89,752
32AtlantaGeorgia$354,300$89,198
33RichmondVirginia$362,300$88,769
34San AntonioTexas$320,500$88,683
35PhiladelphiaPennsylvania$315,300$87,293
36Virginia BeachVirginia$313,200$79,336
37Kansas CityMissouri$291,000$76,147
38ColumbusOhio$284,700$76,133
39IndianapolisIndiana$289,300$71,409
40New OrleansLouisiana$265,200$68,946
41MemphisTennessee$268,600$68,005
42BirminghamAlabama$276,500$67,773
43CincinnatiOhio$252,200$66,260
44BuffaloNew York$206,800$63,386
45St LouisMissouri$231,100$63,260
46DetroitMichigan$227,000$62,758
47LouisvilleKentucky$246,000$62,741
48Oklahoma CityOklahoma$227,300$62,161
49ClevelandOhio$191,400$55,515
50PittsburghPennsylvania$175,000$50,316
National$371,200$97,204

Other Californian cities, San Francisco (ranked 2nd), San Diego (3rd), and Los Angeles (4th) all require an annual income of at least $180,000 to attempt home ownership within their metropolitan boundaries.

Boston (ranked 6th) and New York (ranked 7th) represent unaffordability on the East Coast, both requiring at least $160,000 a year to buy homes there.

It’s not just the coasts that are expensive however. To buy a home in Denver (ranked 8th) and Salt Lake City (15th) means earning more than $120,000 a year.

However, cities in the Midwest and South, like Pittsburgh, Detroit, Oklahoma City, and Louisville, are far more affordable, requiring less than $63,000 a year to buy a home.

Interest Rates Rock Home Ownership Chances

Aside from the obvious price differences in housing markets, a key factor that has elevated income requirements across the board is the rapid rise in interest rates in the last year. In fact the average 30-year mortgage has pushed past 7%, the highest it’s been since the 2000s.

This means that while the median price of a house in San Jose has actually come down between 2022 and 2023, the minimum monthly payment has increased from $7,717 to $8,720 this year.

RankMetro AreaStateMedian Home PriceMonthly Payment
1San JoseCalifornia$1,618,400$8,720
2San FranciscoCalifornia$1,192,600$6,584
3San DiegoCalifornia$880,000$4,879
4Los AngelesCalifornia$746,800$4,226
5SeattleWashington$699,300$3,975
6BostonMassachusetts$644,400$3,856
7New York CityNew York$577,300$3,739
8DenverColorado$636,100$3,515
9Washington, D.C.N/A$557,200$3,265
10MiamiFlorida$560,000$3,210
11PortlandOregon$556,800$3,177
12Riverside/San
Bernardino
California$550,000$3,118
13AustinTexas$467,900$3,010
14SacramentoCalifornia$500,000$2,924
15Salt Lake CityUtah$522,700$2,863
16ProvidenceRhode Island$417,000$2,620
17OrlandoFlorida$419,900$2,445
18DallasTexas$372,400$2,414
19PhoenixArizona$439,700$2,406
20RaleighNorth Carolina$420,000$2,393
21Las VegasNevada$431,400$2,364
22TampaFlorida$390,000$2,272
23MinneapolisMichigan$361,500$2,204
24HartfordConnecticut$314,900$2,190
25CharlotteNorth Carolina$387,200$2,187
26JacksonvilleFlorida$370,000$2,180
27BaltimoreMaryland$357,800$2,179
28NashvilleTennessee$385,800$2,174
29ChicagoIllinois$321,000$2,167
30HoustonTexas$327,000$2,143
31MilwaukeeWisconsin$339,600$2,094
32AtlantaGeorgia$354,300$2,081
33RichmondVirginia$362,300$2,071
34San AntonioTexas$320,500$2,069
35PhiladelphiaPennsylvania$315,300$2,037
36Virginia BeachVirginia$313,200$1,851
37Kansas CityMissouri$291,000$1,777
38ColumbusOhio$284,700$1,776
39IndianapolisIndiana$289,300$1,666
40New OrleansLouisiana$265,200$1,609
41MemphisTennessee$268,600$1,587
42BirminghamAlabama$276,500$1,581
43CincinnatiOhio$252,200$1,546
44BuffaloNew York$206,800$1,479
45St LouisMissouri$231,100$1,476
46DetroitMichigan$227,000$1,464
47LouisvilleKentucky$246,000$1,464
48Oklahoma CityOklahoma$227,300$1,450
49ClevelandOhio$191,400$1,295
50PittsburghPennsylvania$175,000$1,174
National$371,200$2,268

So to afford a median-priced home in the country, an American needs to earn closer to $100,000 a year, up from $75,500 in 2022. And even then, they would be priced out of owning a home in nearly half of the 50 largest cities in the country.

As a result Americans may yet further delay home ownership. Renting is now a far more attractive option, thanks to the biggest difference between rent and mortgages in over 50 years.

Where Does This Data Come From?

Source: Home Sweet Home (HSH).

Note: HSH used different sources for their median home prices, mortgage rate, property taxes and home insurance figures for their analysis. Please visit their website for more information.

Other: If other personal debts exceed 8% of one’s given monthly gross income, this may increase the salary needed to qualify for a mortgage.

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