How much you must earn to buy a home in 78 US cities

See how your salary stacks up against buying a home in one of these cities.

Updated . What changed?

Fact checked
A couple with kids  holding hands standing in front of a house

The stress of purchasing a new home coupled with the uncertainty of living expenses can make looking for housing an exhausting task. To avoid home-buying fatigue, buyers should check how far their salary can stretch before seriously considering signing on a home.

To assist prospective home buyers, finder.com calculated the salaries necessary to buy a home and live comfortably in 78 key cities across the US for 2020. For us, living soundly means more than just initially affording your dream home. We considered median state expenditures as well as changing rates on a 30-year mortgage.

Map of 78 US cities and required salaries

Key findings

While home values have increased over the past 12 months across the 78 cities we surveyed, average home loan interest rates have fallen in 2020. Overall, the salary required to own a home and afford living expenses decreased in most cities since 2018.

  • San Francisco claimed the number one spot for highest required salary, with a prospective homeowner needing to make $206,760 a year to buy an average home costing $1,414,037. he required salary in San Francisco has decreased 6.84% from $221,931 in 2018.
  • San Jose remained in second place, with a salary of $151,619 required to purchase a home, decreasing 15.59% since 2018.
  • San Diego rounded out our top five, jumping from eight in 2018 to fifth in 2020, with a required salary of $101,023.

Four of the top five most expensive cities to be a homeowner were in California: San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles and San Diego. And five of the top 10 cities required you to earn more than six figures just to buy a home. Aside from covering your living expenses, you need to earn above a certain threshold to even qualify for a mortgage.
13 cities on our list became more expensive to buy a home in since 2018, including Philadelphia, Cincinnati and Las Vegas. 60 cities on our list became cheaper to buy a home, mostly driven by lower interest rates.
The cheapest city analyzed was still Jackson, Mississippi, where citizens can afford to buy a home on $44,129. According to the US Census Bureau, the median wage in the US in 2019 was $63,179. Based on finder.com research, the US median wage will only allow those earning a comparable wage to afford a home in 43 out of 78 of the cities we analyzed.

What does it mean to live comfortably?

Our finder.com analysis was based on:

  • Median house prices
  • Average 30-year interest rate based on a 20% deposit
  • Mortgage repayments including mortgage interest
  • Average non-mortgage debt in the city
  • Average non-housing expenditures in the state

Here’s the complete list of cities included in the study. Use the search below to find your city.

2020 rankings

Rank City, State Home value Non-housing expenditure Non-mortgage debt Average interest rate Monthly mortgage repayments Required salary % required salary change from 2018 2018 Salary 2018 Rank
1 San Francisco, CA $1,414,037 $38,156 $16,584 3.09% 4,824 $206,760 -6.84% $221,931 1
2 San Jose, CA $1,036,929 $38,156 $16,584 3.09% $3,538 $151,619 -15.59% $179,616 2
3 Seattle, WA $769,873 $38,699 $18,709 3.09% 2,627 $112,570 -11.83% $127,678 7
4 Los Angeles, CA $752,193 $38,156 $16,584 3.09% 2,566 $109,985 -1.94% $112,163 4
5 San Diego, CA $690,901 $38,156 $16,584 3.09% 2,357 $101,023 -2.86% $103,999 8
6 Washington, DC $629,184 $53,490 $17,736 3.04% $2,133 $96,822 -5.97% $102,974 3
7 New York, NY $653,787 $44,958 $17,766 3.16% $2,251 $96,450 -4.01% $100,479 5
8 Boston, MA $647,392 $46,442 $19,696 3.10% $2,212 $94,782 -2.74% $97,450 6
9 Worcester, MA $276,099 $46,442 $19,696 3.10% $943 $77,457 -3.51% $80,277 9
10 Denver, CO $469,561 $36,530 $19,634 3.04% $1,592 $75,266 -6.03% $80,097 10
11 Springfield, MA $183,979 $46,442 $19,696 3.10% $628 $73,680 1.66% $72,479 14
12 Riverside, CA $435,830 $38,156 $16,584 3.09% $1,487 $72,584 -3.20% $74,986 16
13 Portland, OR $474,591 $35,506 $17,301 3.07% $1,615 $72,187 -4.77% $75,801 13
14 New Haven, CT $195,585 $43,721 $20,157 3.08% $666 $71,875 -1.53% $72,991 15
15 Albany, NY $189,103 $44,958 $17,766 3.16% $651 $70,535 -3.79% $73,310 12
16 Colorado Springs, CO $335,584 $36,530 $19,634 3.04% $1,138 $69,816 -5.58% $73,942 11
17 Sacramento, CA $361,593 $38,156 $16,584 3.09% $1,234 $69,545 -3.83% $72,311 20
18 Hartford, CT 123,079 $43,721 $20,157 3.08% $419 $68,911 -3.80% $71,635 17
19 Spokane, WA $270,394 $38,699 $18,709 3.09% $923 $68,478 0.88% $67,884 29
20 Virginia Beach, VA $295,107 $37,076 $19,367 3.01% $997 $68,402 -3.42% $70,821 18
21 Stockton, CA $320,520 $38,156 $16,584 3.09% $1,094 $67,863 -1.04% $68,575 36
22 Austin, TX $416,836 $33,606 $17,140 3.07% $1,419 $67,769 N/A N/A N/A
23 Philadelphia, PA $194,759 $38,742 $20,759 3.11% $666 $67,496 1.78% $66,314 23
24 Syracuse, NY $110,075 $44,958 $17,766 3.16% $379 $67,271 -1.47% $68,275 19
25 Pittsburgh, PA $183,528 $38,742 $20,759 3.11% $628 $67,035 -0.12% $67,112 21
26 Allentown, PA $178,748 $38,742 $20,759 3.11% $611 $66,839 2.99% $64,901 28
27 Chicago, IL $254,588 $38,407 $17,837 3.05% $864 $66,614 -2.94% $68,633 22
28 Richmond, VA $250,742 $37,076 $19,367 3.01% $847 $66,604 -2.41% $68,249 33
29 Providence, RI $252,505 $37,388 $18,166 2.98% $849 $65,749 -3.40% $68,060 27
30 Fresno, CA $264,254 $38,156 $16,584 3.09% $902 $65,560 0.21% $65,420 48
31 Bakersfield, CA $260,534 $38,156 $16,584 3.09% $889 $65,407 -1.39% $66,326 40
32 Madison, WI $292,893 $36,645 $16,219 3.17% $1,009 $64,979 -6.92% $69,806 32
33 Baltimore, MD $154,327 $37,411 $19,765 3.13% $529 $63,527 -6.10% $67,656 30
34 Orlando, FL $266,793 $34,564 $18,011 2.99% $899 $63,359 -3.69% $65,786 38
35 Las Vegas, NV $293,024 $35,146 $16,573 2.75% $957 $63,203 0.58% $62,840 53
36 Tampa, FL $259,983 $34,564 $18,011 2.99% $876 $63,084 -3.00% $65,038 35
37 Columbus, OH $178,452 $35,712 $18,464 3.03% $604 $61,426 -0.66% $61,833 39
38 Omaha, NE $199,981 $36,440 $16,769 3.07% $681 $61,376 -3.45% $63,570 31
39 Charleston, SC $338,895 $29,681 $17,845 3.04% $1,149 $61,313 -6.85% $65,819 25
40 Cincinnati, OH $171,720 $35,712 $18,464 3.03% $581 $61,153 1.26% $60,392 43
41 Jacksonville, FL $200,448 $34,564 $18,011 2.99% $675 $60,678 -5.49% $64,202 34
42 Atlanta, GA $304,016 $30,985 $16,990 3.00% $1,025 $60,281 -2.68% $61,943 45
43 Dallas, TX $229,811 $33,606 $17,140 3.07% $782 $60,131 -0.77% $60,595 55
44 Lakeland, FL $183,228 $34,564 $18,011 2.99% $617 $59,981 -1.98% $61,192 49
45 Raleigh, NC $295,736 $30,547 $16,976 3.10% $1,010 $59,646 -5.23% $62,936 42
46 Fort Worth, TX $215,109 $33,606 $17,140 3.07% 732 $59,531 N/A N/A N/A
47 Phoenix, AZ $283,276 $29,889 $18,194 2.97% 952 $59,505 -4.63% $62,392 41
48 Grand Rapids, MI $190,026 $35,070 $16,618 3.07% 647 $59,448 -2.89% $61,219 52
49 Nashville, TN $296,806 $31,037 $16,079 3.00% 1,001 $59,129 -4.28% $61,771 46
50 Kansas City, MO $167,396 $34,722 $17,375 2.99% 564 $58,864 -1.86% $59,979 54
51 Houston, TX $195,600 $33,606 $17,140 3.07% 666 $58,734 -2.03% $59,950 56
52 Milwaukee, WI $140,077 $36,645 $16,219 3.17% 483 $58,658 0.20% $58,541 61
53 San Antonio, TX $190,229 $33,606 $17,140 3.07% 647 $58,515 N/A N/A N/A
54 Charlotte, NC $260,093 $30,547 $16,976 3.10% 889 $58,185 -4.08% $60,656 51
55 Toledo, OH $82,414 $35,712 $18,464 3.03% 279 $57,524 -0.58% $57,857 57
56 Akron, OH $77,705 $35,712 $18,464 3.03% 263 $57,333 -1.75% $58,357 50
57 Cleveland, OH $72,953 $35,712 $18,464 3.03% 247 57,140 0.23% $57,011 58
58 Tucson, AZ $222,612 $29,889 $18,194 2.97% 748 $57,059 -0.83% $57,536 62
59 Dayton, OH $66,393 $35,712 $18,464 3.03% 225 $56,873 3.01% $55,211 64
60 Des Moines, IA $153,160 $33,812 $16,888 2.92% 511 $56,836 -5.05% $59,861 44
61 McAllen, TX $148,533 $33,606 $17,140 3.07% 505 $56,812 3.50% $54,893 72
62 Albuquerque, NM $223,438 $30,888 $16,518 3.07% 760 $56,531 N/A N/A N/A
63 El Paso, TX $141,277 $33,606 $17,140 3.07% 481 $56,515 -0.49% $56,794 63
64 Greenville, SC $212,356 $29,681 $17,845 3.04% 720 $56,165 0.76% $55,739 68
65 Knoxville, TN $207,022 $31,037 $16,079 3.00% 698 $55,495 0.01% $55,491 74
66 Wichita, KS $141,637 $32,356 $16,677 3.08% 483 $54,824 -3.10% $56,577 60
67 Chattanooga, TN $187,359 $31,037 $16,079 3.00% 632 $54,699 -0.90% $55,199 71
68 Greensboro, NC $169,479 $30,547 $16,976 3.10% 579 $54,470 0.00% $54,470 73
69 Louisville, KY $184,900 $30,502 $15,956 3.02% 625 $53,961 N/A N/A N/A
70 Columbia, SC $151,681 $29,681 $17,845 3.04% 514 $53,697 -7.14% $57,824 47
71 Detroit, MI $38,352 $35,070 $16,618 3.07% 131 $53,254 -4.56% $55,798 69
72 Oklahoma City, OK $147,446 $29,853 $17,082 3.03% 499 $52,926 -3.56% $54,877 59
73 Augusta, GA $117,804 $30,985 $16,990 3.00% 397 $52,744 -4.75% $55,375 76
74 Tulsa, OK $134,628 $29,853 $17,082 3.03% 456 $52,405 -2.77% $53,899 66
75 Little Rock, AR $155,809 $29,695 $16,129 2.99% 525 $52,122 -4.85% $54,778 67
76 Memphis, TN $102,189 $31,037 $16,079 3.00% 345 $51,252 -3.68% $53,207 75
77 Birmingham, AL $68,025 $29,254 $16,844 3.10% 232 $48,886 -2.95% $50,371 77
78 Jackson, MS $40,920 $26,643 $15,845 2.93% 137 $44,129 -26.08% $59,697 78

Methodology

Median house prices data was sourced from Zillow Home Value Index (ZHVI) by Zillow where Geography = City, accessed on Sept 10, 2020. Average 30-year interest rates in each state was sourced from bankrate on September 9, 2020. Mortgage repayments were calculated based on a 20% deposit on the median house prices in each city and the average 30-year interest rate in each state.

The average non-mortgage debt in the state was sourced from Debt in America by the Urban Institute, with prices in August 2020 dollars based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI).The average non-housing expenditures in the state was based on the per capita Personal Consumption Expenditures by State by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). We calculated personal consumption expenditures outside of housing by subtracting the per capita amount spent on housing and utilities, and adjusted to 2020 prices based on the CPI.

To calculate the required salary to buy a home, we calculated the income needed based on the ideal mortgage debt-to-income ratio of 28% and the monthly mortgage payments required in each city, making sure that the income needed for the ideal mortgage ratio was at least the sum of non-mortgage debt, yearly mortgage and non-housing expenditure in each city.

We looked at five new cities this year: San Antonio, Texas; Austin, Texas; Fort Worth, Texas; Louisville, Kentucky and Albuquerque, New Mexico. We did not include five cities that we looked at in previous years: Rochester, New York; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Scranton, Pennsylvania; Ogden, Utah and Youngstown, Ohio.

Data from previous years

For media inquiries:

Allan Givens headshot

Allan Givens
Public Relations Manager
203-818-2928
allan.givens@finder.com
/in/nicole-gallina/

Nicole Gallina headshot

Nicole Gallina
Communications Coordinator
347-677-4931
nicole.gallina@finder.com
/in/nicole-gallina/

More guides on Finder

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on finder.com:

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder.com provides guides and information on a range of products and services. Because our content is not financial advice, we suggest talking with a professional before you make any decision.

By submitting your comment or question, you agree to our Privacy and Cookies Policy and finder.com Terms of Use.

Questions and responses on finder.com are not provided, paid for or otherwise endorsed by any bank or brand. These banks and brands are not responsible for ensuring that comments are answered or accurate.
Go to site