Where Can You Afford to Live Based on Your Occupation?

blog illustration image

By Jennifer Riner of Zillow
Finding careers that are both financially profitable and emotionally gratifying can be difficult. Some people choose to undergo years of higher education to land high-paying careers early on and ensure substantial financially success later in life – yet their efforts may not necessarily be based on personal passions. Others might choose median-income level professions they are avid about, making work feel more like a hobby than a chore.
However, in today’s market, many major metros are pricing out median income renters and buyers, including lawyers, firefighters, teachers and construction workers. So, where can the vast majority of American workers afford to live? Take a peek at some of your options, and consider the following most – and least – affordable cities.
Legal Workers
While some high-profile lawyers make six figures, many fall into the middle-class category in many major cities and therefore can’t afford overpriced rentals and for-sale properties. The least affordable city for legal professionals, including lawyers, is Springfield, MA, where the yearly median income is only $29,000. A lawyer in Springfield can expect to spend 24 percent of income on housing per month, which would amount to a $165,000 home.
The most affordable city for a lawyer, on the other hand, is Buffalo, NY, where legal professionals make a median income of $89,000 per year and only spend just 19 percent of income on housing. Given that, lawyers in Buffalo can afford up to $403,000 on home purchases, allowing them to scope out 95 percent of for-sale listings in Buffalo currently on Zillow.
Becoming a firefighter is a dream many young kids aspire to achieve, but the grueling physical and emotional toll of the job isn’t for everyone. The best city for firefighters is Riverside, CA, where the median income is $107,000 per year. With 26 percent of income devoted toward housing, the maximum home price firefighters there can afford is $653,000.
Firefighters in Charlotte, NC, aren’t so lucky. Charlotte firefighters only make a median income of $41,000 with 19 percent allocated toward housing. Firefighters in Charlotte can only afford 44 percent of listings on Zillow in their price range.
Arguably one of the most crucial jobs in shaping the minds of future generations, teachers have more opportunities to buy homes in certain metros. The best place for teachers to live is in Bakersfield, CA, where the median income is $61,000 per year and they only need to spend 22 percent of income on housing – affording them a $310,000 home.
On the other hand, the median income for teachers in Provo, UT, is almost half at $32,000 per year. Historically, teachers in Provo spent 22 percent of their incomes on housing, affording them $171,000 homes. Unfortunately, they can only afford for 24 percent listings on the market in Provo to keep within their budgets.
Don’t give up on your dream career just because you can’t afford to live in the big city quite yet. Over time, smart saving can grant anyone the possibility to relocate. Further, with mortgage rates still affordable, home buyers with good credit have options for low-interest loans.