Affordability Study of 15 Biggest U.S. Cities

March 19, 2019
A new study based on property tax rates, down payments, home values, and more reveals the salary needed to afford home payments in the 15 biggest U.S. cities in 2019.
Photo: Unsplash/Charles Deluvio

A new study based on property tax rates, down payments, home values, and more reveals the salary needed to afford home payments in the 15 biggest U.S. cities in 2019.

San Francisco, San Jose, and Los Angeles, Calif. took the top three spots of SmartAsset's ranking as the most expensive of the nation's biggest cities: households need to earn six figures at a minimum to be able to afford the median home "under the best circumstances," meaning that households with "substantial debt payments" need to make more than $100,000 annually. 

Even though many people picture the high cost of living when they think of America’s biggest cities, the housing markets in these areas actually vary quite a bit. Part of that range comes from particular local factors such as property taxes. It is helpful to be aware of a city’s reputation as expensive or affordable, but in order to make the step from renter to homeowner in a responsible fashion, it’s a good idea to have a plan. To help people make the most of their savings, below we model the salary needed to afford the average home in America’s largest cities.

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