The Definitive Guide to Buying Your First Home

The salary you need to earn to be able to afford a home in 15 major US cities

Young women pose in front of the New York City skyline in Brooklyn, New York.
Tweny20

In Columbus, Ohio, you could afford to buy a home on a salary of less than $30,000. But in New York City, you'll need to make more than six figures.

That's according to new data from home co-investment company Unison, which calculated the income needed to become a homeowner in various locations across the country as part of its 2019 Home Affordability Report.

To determine the necessary salary, Unison looked at median property values in each area, then calculated approximate monthly costs for a 20% down payment. For the purpose of the study, Unison assumed a 4.54% interest rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, property taxes of 1.25% per year and home insurance cost of 0.4% per year on the value of the home.

The resulting salaries presume homeowners aren't spending more than the recommended 30% of their income on housing.

In expensive cities such as San Francisco and Los Angeles, it can take 40 years or more to save up a 20% down payment if you're saving 5% of your gross income each year. That's due in part to the fact that homes are getting more expensive: "Median home values increased 6% nationwide from 2017 to 2018," Unison finds.

Plus, "monthly payments have increased twice as much as incomes," the report says.

Below, take a closer look at what you'd need to earn annually to afford to purchase a home in 15 major U.S. cities, ranked from smallest to largest required salary.

Columbus, Ohio

Salary required with a 20% down payment: $29,618
Median home value: $151,208
Estimated number of years it takes to save for a down payment: 12

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Salary required with a 20% down payment: $31,108
Median home value: $158,811
Estimated number of years it takes to save for a down payment: 14

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Jon Lovette | DigitalVision | Getty Images
Houston, Texas

Salary required with a 20% down payment: $32,510
Median home value: $165,972
Estimated number of years it takes to save for a down payment: 13

Nashville, Tennessee

Salary required with a 20% down payment: $40,210
Median home value: $205,281
Estimated number of years it takes to save for a down payment: 14

Charlotte, North Carolina

Salary required with a 20% down payment: $40,710
Median home value: $207,832
Estimated number of years it takes to save for a down payment: 14

Charlotte, North Carolina, USA uptown skyline and park.
Sean Pavone | iStock | Getty Images
Phoenix, Arizona

Salary required with a 20% down payment: $42,937
Median home value: $219,201
Estimated number of years it takes to save for a down payment: 17

Chicago, Illinois

Salary required with a 20% down payment: $51,031
Median home value: $260,526
Estimated number of years it takes to save for a down payment: 19

Atlanta, Georgia

Salary required with a 20% down payment: $54,266
Median home value: $277,041
Estimated number of years it takes to save for a down payment: 20

Atlanta, Georgia
Edwin Remsberg | Getty Images
Miami, Florida

Salary required with a 20% down payment: $61,634
Median home value: $314,657
Estimated number of years it takes to save for a down payment: 36

Boston, Massachusetts

Salary required with a 20% down payment: $95,344
Median home value: $486,752
Estimated number of years it takes to save for a down payment: 30

New York, New York

Salary required with a 20% down payment: $109,313
Median home value: $558,065
Estimated number of years it takes to save for a down payment: 36

New York, New York
Jean-Pierre Lescourret | Lonely Planet | Getty Images
Seattle, Washington

Salary required with a 20% down payment: $114,217
Median home value: $583,100
Estimated number of years it takes to save for a down payment: 27

San Diego, California

Salary required with a 20% down payment: $116,652
Median home value: $595,533
Estimated number of years it takes to save for a down payment: 31

Los Angeles, California

Salary required with a 20% down payment: $121,939
Median home value: $622,523
Estimated number of years it takes to save for a down payment: 43

San Francisco, California

Salary required with a 20% down payment: $202,094
Median home value: $1,031,732
Estimated number of years it takes to save for a down payment: 40

Like this story? Subscribe to CNBC Make It on YouTube!

Don't miss: Suze Orman: If you've done these 3 things, you're ready to buy a home

VIDEO1:0001:00
Don't make this mistake if you want to buy a home without a huge down payment
Young women pose in front of the New York City skyline in Brooklyn, New York.
Tweny20
make it

Stay in the loop

Sign Up

About Us

Learn More

Follow Us

CNBC.COM