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Buying a Home in SF Requires a Salary of $142,000 Per Year

That is—by far—the highest number in the country. 


San Francisco has a really, horrible, no-good, very bad, out-of-orbit expensive real estate market. You, us, and everyone we know should think about following this advice and move to Cleveland.

That’s the big takeaway from this map of the salary you’d need to make to afford to buy a home in cities across the United States. In San Francisco, you’d need to make $142,448 to be able to afford a median-priced home, according to the number crunchers (sorry: data scientists) at, a mortgage research site. 

Whether its a lack of supply or rapacious capitalism to be blamed, one thing is clear: By the standards of the rest of the country, we are messed up. Most of the time, that’s a good thing. Here, not so much.

By this metric, our housing woes are by far the worst nation. San Diego, the second most-expensive market clocks in at $95,4333 and Los Angeles, the number three, requires a salary of $89,665 per year. New York City and Boston round out the top five. The least expensive cities to buy houses that were in the study were Pittsburgh, Cleveland, St. Louis, Cincinnati, and Detroit, all of which require salaries in the $30,000 per year range to afford to buy homes.

The data was calculated by assuming that a buyer would make a 20 percent down payment and devote 28 percent of gross monthly income to costs. They compared that to nationwide data on home values, mortgage rates, and taxes.

There’s always an apples and oranges question with this kind of presentation. Does “San Francisco” mean just the city proper or is it a stand in for the Bay Area? That matter a great deal, since it would be like using Manhattan instead of New York City as a whole. Depressingly, in this study, the data is drawn from the National Association of Realtors, includes the region that encompasses San Francisco, Oakland, and Fremont. That means that the required income to purchase a home just within the city is likely much higher than the number reported. 

So yeah, like we said, move to Cleveland. It’s lovely this time of year. We’ll see you there.


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