How much you need to earn to buy a home in America’s cheapest & most expensive cities


Want to buy a new home? It may sound obvious, but where you live can have a big impact on what you’ll need to earn to afford a median-priced home near you.

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Take a closer look at home buying and your salary

When people are thinking about buying a home, it’s pretty common to sit down and run the numbers to make sure they can deal with the monthly mortgage payment.

Of course, being a homeowner is more than just paying a mortgage note each month. You’re responsible for maintenance and upkeep, property taxes and insurance, too. And if something breaks, there’s no landlord to call!

That’s why it’s wise to have money stashed in a high-yield online bank account you can get to easily when the hot water heater breaks or something else goes bump in the night at your home.

That said, if you just want a quick back-of-the-envelope idea of what kind of salary you’d need to earn to buy the a median-priced home in a given metro area, there’s new data out from

Annual salary necessary to buy median-priced home in top 10 most affordable metro areas:

Pittsburgh $38,253.29
Cleveland $39,729.97
Oklahoma City $40,780.02
Louisville $41,834.66
Indianapolis $42,697.65
Memphis $43,023.39
Buffalo $43,304.29
Cincinnati $44,610.16
St. Louis $44,957.32
Birmingham $45,615.03
Detroit $46,282.97

And just for contrast, here’s a look at how much you would need to earn on the flip side of the equation…

Annual salary necessary to buy median-priced home in top 10 least affordable metro areas:

San Jose $274,623.19
San Francisco $213,726.86
San Diego $130,986.05
Los Angeles $114,907.52
Boston $109,411.27
Seattle $109,274.91
New York City $103,235.16
Washington, D.C. $96,144.49
Denver $93,263.28
Portland $85,369.09

Analysis of the numbers

If you’re a 20-something who is just getting started in life — or if you’re still just trying to figure out where you want to settle down — the decision about where you live will make a huge difference to your overall financial picture.

The numbers above are testimony to that!

It could mean needing to have a high-stress six-figure career in California, which is where four of the most expensive entries are on the list.


Or, it might mean living in any of a number of other major metro areas somewhere else in the country where you may only have to bring in $40,000 to have a nice little life.

At the end of the day, the key is to find a happy medium in life. You might consider studying for a career in which you’ll be well-compensated, but that isn’t tied to a handful of big cities.

Or, you might think about borrowing less money for school by doing a two-year degree program instead of a four-year one. It is possible to work in a field that’s not necessarily location-dependent and still earn a great salary!

To prove it, we’ve got a list of 20 great-paying jobs that only require an associate degree here.

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