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10 Unexpected Cities a $60K Salary Can Grant a Sweet Home

Brian Sperry

Brian Sperry joined Compass with nearly 15 years of unparalleled experience in the commercial, residential and development real estate sectors...

Brian Sperry joined Compass with nearly 15 years of unparalleled experience in the commercial, residential and development real estate sectors...

Dec 4 4 minutes read

Some say that’s the big money question these days. While the economy is strong and wages are rising, these gains are being left in the dust by runaway home prices. Combining this with inching mortgage rates, it's enough to make any average-income worker wonder: Will my paycheck suffice?

realtor.com® measured the data to figure out just how much home typical folks can actually afford to buy—and where they can find a plethora of appealing, comfortably priced accommodations.

"Generally, these aren't found in high-growth areas of the country ... [places] where we haven’t seen commensurate wage and salary growth," says Sean Snaith, an economics professor at the University of Central Florida. 

For middle-class affordability, "you need to look toward areas where housing prices have not seen the same appreciation," he says.

Crunching the stats, realtor.com® evaluated the definition of a "middle-income" family from the latest U.S. Census Bureau data: and found a median household gross income of $61,372 per year. 

They further calculated that homeowners should spend no more than 28% of annual income on housing—which for $60k amounts to annual housing costs of $16,800. Other factors including the assumption that homeowners would get a 30-year mortgage with a 5% down payment and a 5% fixed-interest rate, plus 0.5% in private mortgage insurance (required on down payments below 20%). The final determination, for a household earning of $60,000 annually could comfortably buy a home priced up to $257,400, max. 

Pulling listings from their online search, 10 cities were narrowed in on, to find the greatest share of available housing at or below $257,400 in the nation's 50 largest metropolitan areas (limiting the rankings to two metros per state).*

1. Pittsburgh, PA

Median list price: $179,100

Share of affordable homes: 64.3%

2. Rochester, NY

Median list price: $177,500

Share of affordable homes: 63.1%

3. Buffalo, NY

Median list price: $185,100

Share of affordable homes: 61.8%

4. St. Louis, MO

Median list price: $209,500

Share of affordable homes: 61.7%

5. Cleveland, OH

Median list price: $179,500

Share of affordable homes: 61.7%

6. Birmingham, AL

Median list price: $219,200

Share of affordable homes: 55.7%

7. Memphis, TN

Median list price: $214,000

Share of affordable homes: 53.5%

8. Oklahoma City, OK

Median list price: $235,100

Share of affordable homes: 53.4%

9. Cincinnati, OH

Median list price: $240,000

Share of affordable homes: 49.2%

10. Detroit, MI

Median list price: $232,500

Share of affordable homes: 47.4%

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