Cities With the Highest — and Lowest — Share of Income Spent on Mortgages

Couple making a mortgage payment
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This story originally appeared on HireAHelper.

Housing is the largest expense for the average American household. Among homeowners with a mortgage, the median share of household income going toward mortgage payments alone — not including other household expenses such as utilities — is 14.9%, according to Census Bureau data. This figure varies substantially across the country, and many Americans spend a much larger proportion of their income on their mortgages. During economic downturns, these households are especially vulnerable.

While the majority of American homeowners put less than 20% of their income toward mortgage payments, more than 7.5 million households spend 30% or more. Furthermore, 4.5 million households — or almost 10% of all households with a mortgage — allocate over 40% of their income to mortgage payments.

This trend is tightly correlated to household income, with lower-income households more likely to spend a greater share of their income on their mortgage payment.

Among households earning less than $25,000 (accounting for 7.2% of households with a mortgage), the median share of income going toward mortgage payments is 55%. This percentage declines steadily as household income increases, with households earning over $175,000 per year spending just 9.4%.

Because of the large geographic variation in home prices and earnings, housing costs as a percentage of income vary substantially across cities and states.

Here are the metropolitan areas with the highest and lowest share of income going toward mortgage payments.

Methodology

Man with house keys and thumbs down
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To determine the metros with the highest and lowest share of income going toward mortgage payments, researchers at HireAHelper, a marketplace for local moving companies, analyzed the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 American Community Survey Public Use Microdata Sample (ACS PUMS) and the Zillow Home Value Index.

The researchers ranked metro areas according to the median share of income spent on mortgage payments. In the event of a tie, the metro with the higher median monthly mortgage payment was ranked higher.

Researchers also included median monthly household income (for homeowners with a mortgage) and the Zillow Home Value Index for July 2020 — a measure of the typical home value in a region.

Only metropolitan areas with at least 100,000 people were included in the analysis. Additionally, metro areas were grouped into the following cohorts based on population size:

  • Small metros: 100,000–349,999
  • Midsize metros: 350,000–999,999
  • Large metros: 1,000,000 or more

Large metros with the highest share of income spent on mortgages

10. Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA

Portland skyline
Jon Bilous / Shutterstock.com
  • Median share of income spent on mortgage payments: 16.7%
  • Median monthly mortgage payment: $1,500
  • Median monthly household income: $8,908
  • Zillow home value index: $425,758

9. Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC

Virginia Beach, Virginia
Ritu Manoj Jethani / Shutterstock.com
  • Median share of income spent on mortgage payments: 17%
  • Median monthly mortgage payment: $1,300
  • Median monthly household income: $7,575
  • Zillow home value index: $250,878

8. Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV

Las Vegas street scene
Tupungato / Shutterstock.com
  • Median share of income spent on mortgage payments: 17.3%
  • Median monthly mortgage payment: $1,200
  • Median monthly household income: $7,000
  • Zillow home value index: $298,275

7. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA

Barry Salmons / Shutterstock.com
  • Median share of income spent on mortgage payments: 17.4%
  • Median monthly mortgage payment: $1,800
  • Median monthly household income: $10,242
  • Zillow home value index: $551,311

6. Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade, CA

Home in Sacramento, California
Victoria Ditkovsky / Shutterstock.com
  • Median share of income spent on mortgage payments: 17.8%
  • Median monthly mortgage payment: $1,600
  • Median monthly household income: $8,842
  • Zillow home value index: $439,664

5. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL

Florida
GagliardiImages / Shutterstock.com
  • Median share of income spent on mortgage payments: 18%
  • Median monthly mortgage payment: $1,300
  • Median monthly household income: $7,000
  • Zillow home value index: $308,522

4. New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA

Pizza kitchen in New York
ChameleonsEye / Shutterstock.com
  • Median share of income spent on mortgage payments: 18%
  • Median monthly mortgage payment: $2,000
  • Median monthly household income: $10,668
  • Zillow home value index: $491,993

3. San Diego-Carlsbad, CA

Dancestrokes / Shutterstock.com
  • Median share of income spent on mortgage payments: 19.2%
  • Median monthly mortgage payment: $2,000
  • Median monthly household income: $9,917
  • Zillow home value index: $639,238

2. Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA

Riverside, California at night
MattGush / Shutterstock.com
  • Median share of income spent on mortgage payments: 19.6%
  • Median monthly mortgage payment: $1,500
  • Median monthly household income: $7,529
  • Zillow home value index: $395,370

1. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA

holbox / Shutterstock.com
  • Median share of income spent on mortgage payments: 19.8%
  • Median monthly mortgage payment: $1,900
  • Median monthly household income: $9,500
  • Zillow home value index: $696,601

Large metros with the lowest share of income spent on mortgages

10. St. Louis, MO-IL

Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri
photos.us / Shutterstock.com
  • Median share of income spent on mortgage payments: 13.2%
  • Median monthly mortgage payment: $1,000
  • Median monthly household income: $7,583
  • Zillow home value index: $186,055

9. Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN

Churchill downs entrance, Louisville, Kentucky
Thomas Kelley / Shutterstock.com
  • Median share of income spent on mortgage payments: 13.2%
  • Median monthly mortgage payment: $900
  • Median monthly household income: $7,083
  • Zillow home value index: $187,443

8. Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI

Detroit, Michigan
Susanne Pommer / Shutterstock.com
  • Median share of income spent on mortgage payments: 13.1%
  • Median monthly mortgage payment: $990
  • Median monthly household income: $7,542
  • Zillow home value index: $186,913

7. Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN

Street scene in Cincinnati, Ohio
aceshot1 / Shutterstock.com
  • Median share of income spent on mortgage payments: 12.9%
  • Median monthly mortgage payment: $970
  • Median monthly household income: $7,558
  • Zillow home value index: $195,109

6. Grand Rapids-Wyoming, MI

Grand Rapids, Michigan
Henryk Sadura / Shutterstock.com
  • Median share of income spent on mortgage payments: 12.9%
  • Median monthly mortgage payment: $930
  • Median monthly household income: $7,333
  • Zillow home value index: $228,389

5. Rochester, NY

Rochester, New York
Sirichai netthong / Shutterstock.com
  • Median share of income spent on mortgage payments: 12.9%
  • Median monthly mortgage payment: $900
  • Median monthly household income: $7,333
  • Zillow home value index: $165,251

4. Cleveland-Elyria, OH

Cleveland, Ohio
f11photo / Shutterstock.com
  • Median share of income spent on mortgage payments: 12.8%
  • Median monthly mortgage payment: $930
  • Median monthly household income: $7,189
  • Zillow home value index: $166,325

3. Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN

Indianapolis
Rudy Balasko / Shutterstock.com
  • Median share of income spent on mortgage payments: 12.6%
  • Median monthly mortgage payment: $900
  • Median monthly household income: $7,167
  • Zillow home value index: $191,069

2. Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NY

Buffalo, New York
Atomazul / Shutterstock.com
  • Median share of income spent on mortgage payments: 12.1%
  • Median monthly mortgage payment: $910
  • Median monthly household income: $7,417
  • Zillow home value index: $179,947

1. Pittsburgh, PA

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
  • Median share of income spent on mortgage payments: 12%
  • Median monthly mortgage payment: $900
  • Median monthly household income: $7,500
  • Zillow home value index: $165,002

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