Big city residents are used to forking over a substantial chunk of their monthly income for rent, but even the most dedicated urbanite secretly dreams of setting down roots and buying a sophisticated place to call their own. Of course, that can be easier said than done, particularly if your metropolis of choice is on the pricey side. We took a look at some of the most expensive cities in the country, and calculated the annual income you need to buy a home at the median price point for that city, according to 2015 data from Kiplinger. To arrive at these numbers, we used the Zillow calculator, and assumed a 20% down payment and average monthly debt of $250.
Median Home Price: $205,000
Annual Salary Needed: $46,000
If you’re in the market for real estate and love big city living, Chicago might be your future home. The glamorous Windy City has great infrastructure, gorgeous architecture, and lots of buzzy culture in the city center. And, as a bonus, it’s on the affordable side.
Median Home Price: $210,000
Annual Salary Needed: $46,000
Miami is having a moment, and it might be time to swoop in before housing prices jump. Move to this glittering gem of a town on the Florida peninsula, and take advantage of high-octane events like Art Basel, as well as the city’s well-deserved reputation for wild nightlife and Old World charm.
Median Home Price: $222,700
Annual Salary Needed: $48,000
The Midwestern Twin Cities are perhaps best known for their bitter winter temperatures and the Mall of America, but many people don’t realize that there’s more to Minneapolis and St. Paul. The Twin Cities have one of the strongest job markets in the country, and are chockfull of great (free!) museums.
Median Home Price: $248,500
Annual Salary Needed: $53,000
Salt Lake City is renowned for its many natural wonders, from the eponymous Salt Lake to the nearby Wasatch Mountains. If you love the great outdoors, and want a peaceful quality of life, this relatively affordable small city might be worth investigating.
Median Home Price: $276,753
Annual Salary Needed: $59,000
Baltimore is a historic city that’s home to many Capitol commuters. If you dream of working in the hustle and bustle of D.C., but can’t afford the prices, more-reasonable Baltimore might be a worthy alternative.
Median Home Price: $302,000
Annual Salary Needed: $61,000
Denver is a one-time frontier town that has grown into a positively polished metropolis that remains fairly affordable. Denver residents are among the healthiest city-dwellers in the country, perhaps thanks to the proximity of nearby skiing and hiking. Added bonus, Denver often ranks among America’s overall best cities in the annual U.S. News & World Report.
Median Home Price: $350,000
Annual Salary Needed: $70,000
This small-but-bustling East Coast city keeps a low profile, so it can come as a surprise to realize that the real estate market here is enjoying a golden age. The small size of the city, coupled with a booming population of young people attracted to the elite universities and prestigious jobs, means that housing prices in Boston are higher than ever.
Median Home Price: $370,000
Annual Salary Needed: $75,000
Seattle has been dubbed the best real estate market in the country, but that title doesn’t come cheap. The West Coast city has enjoyed a serious renaissance thanks to major hometown companies like Amazon and Microsoft. As a result, buying here means a great return on investment, but the barrier to entry is pretty high.
Median Home Price: $375,000
Annual Salary Needed: $76,000
New York City is home to 8.5 million people, and one of the most notorious real estate markets in the country. Many people don’t even bother to buy, choosing to rent instead. Still, if you can pony up the down payment, it may be worth your while for the return on investment, especially if you don’t mind living in an outer borough where prices are more reasonable — for now.
Median Home Price: $385,000
Annual Salary Needed: $78,000
It’s not too surprising that our nation’s capitol has one of the most expensive real estate markets in the country. D.C. famously has lots of beautiful housing stock in neighborhoods like Georgetown, and is, of course, home to many of the most important cultural institutions in the country. Still, many people choose to commute in from more affordable suburbs like Alexandria and Baltimore.
Median Home Price: $466,000
Annual Salary Needed: $90,000
Honolulu might be paradise on earth, but it’s not cheap. As a rule, Hawaiian real estate is expensive. Not only are the views worth a pretty penny to the right investor, the islands have limited real estate, and a high cost of living, because nearly everything — from food to lumber — must be imported from the mainland. Besides, a lot of land is preserved to protect the natural glory of the land. Maybe bookmark this one as a vacation destination instead.
Median Home Price: $530,000
Annual Salary Needed: $100,000
Los Angeles is home to some of the most tony zipcodes in the country, including, of course, 90210. If you earn the kind of paycheck that gets you a gated estate in Beverly Hills, you’re in luck. However, if a modest Craftsman bungalow is more your speed, you might be better served by looking in the ‘burbs.
Median Home Price: $700,000
Annual Salary Needed: $130,000
San Francisco is among the most expensive markets in the country, and for good reason. This scenic Northern California city is the heart and soul of a major Bay Area tech boom. And if the prices in San Francisco give you heart palpitations, best not to look too closely into neighboring Silicon Valley cities like San Jose, where median prices top out at $816,000.