If you're planning to make the jump from renting to buying a home in New York City, you might have to live there for more than 18 years to make it worth the price. But if you decide to buy in Atlanta, you'd probably only have to stay for 4.1 years.
Since buying is more expensive than renting in every state and the District of Columbia, financial planning site SmartAsset did the math to figure exactly how long you'd need to live in a house to break even on the purchase price, versus renting a place in the same city.
For its calculations, SmartAsset compared the total costs of buying and renting a typical home in major cities across the U.S. in 2015 for a household earning $100,000 a year, assuming a 4.5% mortgage rate, $2,000 in closing costs and a 20% down payment.
SmartAsset doesn't take differences in appreciation into account; depending on the neighborhood, you may find that your NYC apartment goes up in value quickly enough that you could sell after far fewer years than the site predicts.
But based on the numbers, here's how long you'd need to stay in your house for buying to make sense in 11 major U.S. cities, ranked from the shortest to the longest amount of time:
Number of years to break even: 2.9
Average monthly mortgage payment: $432
Average monthly rent: $1,414
Average home price: $157,802