HSH.com recently released an article comparing 27 metropolitan areas and the salary someone would need to earn in order to afford the principal, interest, taxes and insurance payments on a median-priced home. According to pricing data collected by the National Association of Realtors, a single family home in the U.S. will cost you approximately $223,900 as of 2015 median estimates. The median sales price of existing single-family homes in the U.S. has increased steadily since 2013 ($197,400) and 2014 ($208,900). That equates to a 13% increase over two years! Below is a breakdown of the median home prices for 2015 across four U.S. geographical areas:

  • Northeast: $262,500

  • Midwest: $175,500

  • South: $196,400

  • West: $319,100

We created a 3D map above that shows how much you must earn to buy a home in 27 major U.S. metros. The higher the cone rising out of the map, the greater the salary needed to buy a home. Additionally, we have highlighted the metro areas from green to red to represent the median home price. Darker green represents lower median home prices and darker red represents higher median home prices. Of the 27 metro areas we looked at, the range of salaries needed to own a home varies from $31,134 to $147,996, which is a difference of over $100,000! Do you earn enough to own a home in your metro area?  

Based on the data of 27 metro areas, below is a breakdown of the top 5 metros that require the highest salaries and the bottom 5 metros that require the lowest salaries to purchase a house.

Most Expensive Metros

  • San Francisco:

    • Salary needed: $147,996

    • Median home price: $781,600

  • San Diego:

    • Salary needed: $103,165

    • Median home price: $546,800

  • Los Angeles:

    • Salary needed: $95,040

    • Median home price: $481,900

  • New York City:

    • Salary needed: $86,770

    • Median home price: $384,600

  • Boston:

    • Salary needed: $83,151

    • Median home price: $393,600

Least Expensive Metros

  • Pittsburgh:

    • Salary needed: $31,134

    • Median home price: $128,000

  • Cleveland:

    • Salary needed: $32,523

    • Median home price: $121,800

  • Cincinnati:

    • Salary needed: $33,967

    • Median home price: $136,600

  • St. Louis:

    • Salary needed: $34,777

    • Median home price: $143,700

  • Detroit:

    • Salary needed: $36,915

    • Median home price: $148,667

It Takes More Money to Live in the West

The data shows that the most expensive metros are located in the West while the least expensive metros are in the Midwest. In fact, the top three most expensive metros are located in California (San Francisco, San Diego, and Los Angeles), with New York City and Boston next. On the other hand, four Midwestern metros made the list of the five least expensive metros: Cleveland, Cincinnati, St. Louis, and Detroit. According to the national data provided by HSH.com, the median salary needed to purchase a home is $51,114. 16 of the 27 metros had higher salary requirements than the national median. From a growth perspective, Orlando (13.9%) had the largest growth in median home prices from 2014-2015 while Cincinnati had the lowest growth (-1.1%). In fact, only 3 of the 27 metros experienced declines in home prices: Washington (-0.3%), New York City (-0.4%), and Cincinnati (-1.1%). Five metros experienced double-digit growth from 2014-2015: Orlando (13.9%), Denver (12.3%), San Diego (10.9%), Portland (10.4%), and Phoenix (10.3%). If West metros continue to grow faster and outpace other metros across the U.S., the gap between salaries needed to buy a home will continue to widen across major metros!  

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Sources: Table 1