Buying a home is becoming harder and harder for many Americans, and in some cities it’s out of reach for many. Just how much do you need to earn to consider buying your own home in America’s major cities?
Mortgage research website HSH.com dug into the most recent data, and discovered that while some cities are indeed making homeownership seem about as likely as Martian citizenship, others are more reasonable. HSH analyzed data from the National Association of Realtors, Freddie Mac and the Mortgage Bankers Association of America to determine the annual base cost of owning a home in the largest U.S. metropolitan areas — including principal and interest on a 30-year mortgage, plus property taxes and homeowners insurance. From that cost, they calculated the income required to own a home.
Californians don’t have a lot of good news in the report. Residents of the Golden State pay for all that sunshine — at least if they live in major cities. The four most expensive metro areas in which to buy a home are all in California. If money is an issue, perhaps you should seek your sun in Phoenix, Arizona, or Tampa, Florida — those sunny spots show up on the list of least-expensive areas.
Here’s a look at what it takes to buy a home in 50 top metro areas, from the most affordable (No. 50) to the costliest:
50. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Salary needed: $38,253
The Steel City is tough, but perhaps not if you’re looking to buy a home. When it comes to large metro areas, Pittsburgh features the lowest salary needed to become a homeowner. The average median home price here is just $152,000.
49. Cleveland, Ohio
Salary needed: $39,730
Cleveland rocks for home buyers. The median home price in the home of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is $153,200.
48. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Salary needed: $40,780
Oklahoma City looks mighty pretty for many buyers’ budgets, with a median home price of $164,500.
47. Louisville, Kentucky
Salary needed: $41,835
Dreaming of your old Kentucky home? The median home price in Louisville comes in at $183,900.
46. Indianapolis, Indiana
Salary needed: $42,698
Indianapolis has stayed fairly affordable, with the median home price in this basketball-crazed city coming in at $194,100.
45. Memphis, Tennessee
Salary needed: $43,023
Lively, musical Memphis rocks to its own tune — just head to Beale Street some night to find out. The median-priced home in this city costs $189,100.
44. Buffalo, New York
Salary needed: $43,304
Buffalo homes are still a relative bargain, with the median price at $149,100. Spicy Buffalo wings not included.
43. Cincinnati, Ohio
Salary needed: $44,610
Maybe you’re like Dr. Johnny Fever of WKRP fame, and you want to live your life on the air in Cincinnati. The median-priced home here costs $183,900. It’s still among the most affordable cities in the country, but that may change: The median price for homes was up by nearly 17 percent over the previous quarter, registering the fastest increase in the country, according to HSH.
42. St. Louis, Missouri
Salary needed: $44,957
If someone’s asking you to meet them in St. Louis, perhaps under the Gateway Arch, you should know that the median home price in the metro area is $185,700.
41. Birmingham, Alabama
Salary needed: $45,615
If Sweet Home Alabama is singing your song, head to historic Birmingham, where a median-priced home sells for $214,800.
40. Detroit, Michigan
Salary needed: $46,283
You may have heard about all the home deals to be had in economically battered Detroit, but there are plenty of pricier homes in the Motor City, too. The median home price here is $190,950.
39. New Orleans, Louisiana
Salary needed: $49,249
If you want to party like it’s Mardi Gras year-round, you can let the good times roll in New Orleans. A median-priced home in the city famous for music and nightlife costs $216,100.
38. Columbus, Ohio
Salary needed: $49,839
You can get by as a homeowner on less than a $50,000 salary in family friendly Columbus, where the median home price is $208,600.
37. Kansas City, Missouri
Salary needed: $50,090
Want to own a home close to the mouth-watering barbecue of Kansas City? A median-priced home in the K.C. metro area costs about $215,000.
36. Atlanta, Georgia
Salary needed: $50,629
This may be surprising to some, but bustling Atlanta remains on the affordable end of this list, with a median-priced home selling for $228,800.
35. Virginia Beach, Virginia
Salary needed: $52,483
A median-priced home in Virginia Beach is probably not to be found on the beach. But in the metro area as a whole, the median price of a home is $235,000.
34. Charlotte, North Carolina
Salary needed: $53,991
Is Carolina on your mind? A median-priced home in Charlotte will cost you $252,400.
33. Tampa, Florida
Salary needed: $54,627
It won’t buy the grandeur of these Tampa homes on the waterfront, but $238,700 will buy you a median-priced home in this coastal community.
32. Nashville, Tennessee
Salary needed: $55,657
In the country music capital of Nashville, a median-priced home costs $263,200. That might hit a sour note with some, but it’s still among the less expensive metro areas for homebuyers in the U.S.
31. Phoenix, Arizona
Salary needed: $55,939
A median-priced home costs $272,000 in the sunny Phoenix metro area. No extra charge for the cacti.
30. Richmond, Virginia
Salary needed: $56,940
In Richmond, one of the country’s oldest cities, median-priced homes sell for $267,000. That’s a whole lot more affordable that Washington, D.C., just over 100 miles to the north, which is No. 8 on this list.
29. Jacksonville, Florida
Salary needed: $57,027
A median-priced home goes for $250,000 in Jacksonville, located in north Florida on the Atlantic Ocean.
28. San Antonio, Texas
Salary needed: $57,826
The median price for a home in this historic Texas town is $230,300. San Antonio, located in the south-central part of the state, has one of the fastest-growing populations in the country.
27. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Salary needed: $58,903
The median price of homes in the City of Brotherly Love is $236,100.
26. Las Vegas, Nevada
Salary needed: $59,551
There’s more to this city than the strip that draws gamblers and tourists. Real people live here and buy real houses! A median-priced home in Las Vegas costs $291,400.
25. Orlando, Florida
Salary needed: $60,912
Not far from the magic of Disney World, real human residents can buy homes in Orlando for a median price of $269,000. That also happens to be the national median home price.
24. Houston, Texas
Salary needed: $61,683
A median-priced home in Houston goes for $244,400. The sprawling city, home to NASA, extends to Galveston Bay on the Gulf of Mexico.
23. Raleigh, North Carolina
Salary needed: $61,806
Median-priced homes in the Raleigh metro area go for about $290,000.
22. Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Salary needed: $62,163
The median home price in this midwestern metropolis is $256,900 according to the report. The report noted that median price rose 13.57 percent from the previous quarter in Milwaukee, more than double the national average increase.
21. Minneapolis, Minnesota
Salary needed: $63,962
In the thriving metro area of Minneapolis, the median-priced home sells for $280,200.
20. Hartford, Connecticut
Salary needed: $65,130
A median-priced home here is $239,400. Hartford, in central Connecticut, is one of the country’s oldest cities, and was once home to writer Mark Twain.
19. Dallas, Texas
Salary needed: $66,338
Don’t expect to pick up J.R. Ewing’s sprawling Southfork Ranch for this price, but the median home cost in his hometown of Dallas is $268,200.
18. Salt Lake City, Utah
Salary needed: $67,210
In scenic Salt Lake City, the median home price is $331,600. But if you’re hoping to take advantage some of the area’s incredible skiing, you’ll need plenty of extra cash.
17. Baltimore, Maryland
Salary needed: $67,532
A median-priced home in Baltimore now costs $297,200. Located close to Washington, D.C., the Maryland city saw its median home price rise by 17.15 percent over the previous quarter — which was the fastest increase in the country.
16. Chicago, Illinois
Salary needed: $69,699
If Chicago is your kind of town, hope you’re making pretty good money. The median home price in the Windy City is $275,100.
15. Providence, Rhode Island
Salary needed: $72,197
Tiny Rhode Island isn’t tiny when it comes to costs. The smallest state’s historic capital boasts a median home price of close to $300,000, at $294,700.
14. Riverside/San Bernardino, California
Salary needed: $75,808
The Riverside/San Bernardino area may not have the glamour of Hollywood or San Francisco, but those cities east of Los Angeles landed on the most-expensive list nonetheless. The median home price in this area is $360,000.
13. Austin, Texas
Salary needed: $77,467
There’s plenty of room in spacious Texas, but if you want to stake your claim in the capital city of Austin, you’ll pay for it. The median home price in this booming community is $330,200.
12. Miami, Florida
Salary needed: $78,337
You may not end up living oceanside, but you can get a median-priced home in sunny, scenic Miami for $353,000.
11. Sacramento, California
Salary needed: $80,225
California’s capital city can be almost as spendy as its more famous cities, such as Los Angeles. The median home price here is $374,000.
10. Portland, Oregon
Salary needed: $85,369
A song from TV comedy “Portlandia” proclaimed that, “The dream of the ’90s is alive, in Portland.” Maybe in terms of quirky fashions and tribal tattoos, but Portlanders can only dream of 1990s home prices. The median home price in this West Coast city is now $407,100.
9. Denver, Colorado
Salary needed: $93,263
Prices may not be mile-high in the Mile-High City, but neither are they a bargain. The median home price in Denver is $462,900.
8. Washington, D.C.
Salary needed: $96,144
If you elect to live in the nation’s capital of Washington, D.C., you’ll need to vote with your wallet. A median-priced home here is $443,100.
7. New York City
Salary needed: $103,235
You might assume New York City would be the least affordable city on this list. But New York is only seventh costliest on the whole. The median-priced home here still isn’t cheap — at $410,500. At that price, you won’t find anything on Park Avenue, but perhaps a place in the Bronx or one of the city’s other outlying boroughs.
6. Seattle, Washington
Salary needed: $109,275
Seattle is the second city on the list where homeowners really need a six-figure salary. Hope you’ve got some Amazon or Microsoft stock in your back pocket: A median-priced home in the scenic Emerald City costs $530,300.
5. Boston, Massachusetts
Salary needed: $109,411
Historic Boston has long made history for its pricey home market. The median home price here is $495,900.
4. Los Angeles, California
Salary needed: $114,908
Big-name actors in L.A. might make enough to afford a home, but those still struggling to be discovered will need to audition some roommates. A median-priced house in the City of Angels costs $557,200. Hooray for Hollywood?
3. San Diego, California
Salary needed: $130,986
San Diego’s perfect climate deserves the praise it gets, but that sunshine drives up the price of admission. A median-priced home in the Southern California city runs $645,000.
2. San Francisco, California
Salary needed: $213,727
Note the leap between No. 3 and No. 2! You’ll need to make $83,000 more annually in San Francisco than you would in San Diego to buy a home. A median-priced home in the City by the Bay crosses the million-dollar mark, coming in at $1,070,000.
1. San Jose, California
Salary needed: $274,623
Thinking of moving west to work in San Jose’s Silicon Valley? Hope you get in on one of those famous Silicon Valley salaries. A median-priced home within commuting distance of the big tech employers here will cost $1,405,000. That would get you almost 10 homes in No. 50 Pittsburgh.
How much does it take to buy a home in your area? Share your thoughts in comments below or on our Facebook page.