For the middle class — those who earn between two-thirds and double the median income in their area — the ability to afford a home can depend largely on where you live. But it's also determined by which end of the middle class spectrum you fall in.
To determine the most affordable cities for middle class families, financial website LendingTree compared the typical monthly payments for median-priced homes in the 50 largest metro areas in the U.S. to how much middle income buyers could afford to pay without spending more than 28% of their income on housing. The data assumes that homeowners will make a 20% down payment and secure a loan rate of around 4.6%.
Because the American middle class includes such a broad spectrum of earners, LendingTree also broke the results down into three groups: lower-middle class, or those who make two-thirds of the median income; middle-middle class, who make exactly the median income; and upper-middle class, who make double the median income.
Based on that data, here are the three most affordable metros for each cohort of the middle class:
LendingTree: Most affordable U.S. metros for each subsection of the middle class.
Buffalo, New York
In most areas, the study concludes, "buyers who make the median income can afford a median-priced home." On average, a middle-middle class family makes about $450 more a month than needed for a median-priced home, an upper-middle class family makes more than $1,900 needed and lower-middle class families "can still afford a median-priced home in 34 of the nation's largest metros."
But that doesn't mean everyone in the middle class is able to buy.
"Just as middle class families may have different incomes," LendingTree says, they may have other expenses, too, such as student loans or credit card debt. The standard 20% down payment may not be feasible for everyone. Plus, according to a 2018 study, middle class incomes have shrunk in almost every state.
If you're looking to buy a home, be sure you're ready to transition from renting and consider some of the markets where homes are most affordable for millennials. And if you're going to stick with renting, check out these budgeting hacks, credit tips and other ways to save.
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