Cities Where Even High School Grads Can Afford a Home

These days, it might seem like you need an advanced degree in coding to earn enough money to buy a home. But it turns out there are many large metro areas where even a high school grad's income might be enough to enter the world of home ownership. 

Despite home values climbing for years, the median home in 36 of the country's 50 largest metro areas is theoretically affordable to households that earn the typical income associated with attaining only a high school diploma, according to a study by Zillow, which matched median mortgage payments for the first quarter of 2019 to the most recent American Community Survey incomes for each educational degree level.

What's the catch? The down payment. Coming up with that chunk of money is a challenge for many as home prices have outpaced incomes over the past few years.

For households that secure a down payment, these metros are considered affordable because the mortgage does not consume more than 30% of income for a household making the typical salary of a someone with a high school diploma.

Even in some of the most expensive markets in the country, a home is attainable to someone with the income level that generally comes with an associate's degree. Those markets include Boston, Denver, Miami, New York, Portland, Ore., Riverside, Calif., Sacramento, Salt Lake City, and Washington, D.C., according to Zillow (ZG) .

If you want to buy in San Diego or Seattle, it's best to go for the bachelor's degree. Dreaming of San Francisco or L.A? Plan for that advanced degree (in coding.)

Based on Zillow's research, here are 36 cities where even a high school grad can afford to buy a home:

Atlanta
Atlanta

Atlanta

  • Median Monthly Mortgage Payment: $866.84
  • Minimum Education Needed to Afford a Mortgage: HS Diploma or GED
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Mortgage: 15.3%
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Rent: 25.5%

Photo: Shutterstock

Austin, Texas
Austin, Texas

Austin, Texas

  • Median Monthly Mortgage Payment: $1,230.13
  • Minimum Education Needed to Afford a Mortgage: HS Diploma or GED
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Mortgage: 19.2%
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Rent: 26.6%

Photo: Shutterstock

Baltimore
Baltimore

Baltimore

  • Median Monthly Mortgage Payment: $1,060.31
  • Minimum Education Needed to Afford a Mortgage: HS Diploma or GED
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Mortgage: 15.9%
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Rent: 26.3%

Photo: Photo: Shutterstock

Birmingham, Ala.
Birmingham, Ala.

Birmingham, Ala.

  • Median Monthly Mortgage Payment: $575.66
  • Minimum Education Needed to Afford a Mortgage: HS Diploma or GED
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Mortgage: 12.6%
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Rent: 24.1%

Photo: Shutterstock

Buffalo, N.Y.
Buffalo, N.Y.

Buffalo, N.Y.

  • Median Monthly Mortgage Payment: $630.83
  • Minimum Education Needed to Afford a Mortgage: HS Diploma or GED
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Mortgage: 12.9%
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Rent: 25.0%

Photo: Shutterstock

Charlotte, N.C.
Charlotte, N.C.

Charlotte, N.C.

  • Median Monthly Mortgage Payment: $821.93
  • Minimum Education Needed to Afford a Mortgage: HS Diploma or GED
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Mortgage: 15.5%
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Rent: 25.2%

Photo: Shutterstock

Chicago
Chicago

Chicago

  • Median Monthly Mortgage Payment: $891.27
  • Minimum Education Needed to Afford a Mortgage: HS Diploma or GED
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Mortgage: 14.9%
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Rent: 28.2%

Photo: Shutterstock

Cincinnati
Cincinnati

Cincinnati

  • Median Monthly Mortgage Payment: $673.38
  • Minimum Education Needed to Afford a Mortgage: HS Diploma or GED
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Mortgage: 12.5%
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Rent: 24.2%

Photo: Shutterstock

Cleveland
Cleveland

Cleveland

  • Median Monthly Mortgage Payment: $578.82
  • Minimum Education Needed to Afford a Mortgage: HS Diploma or GED
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Mortgage: 12.7%
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Rent: 25.6%

Photo: Shutterstock

Columbus, Ohio
Columbus, Ohio

Columbus, Ohio

  • Median Monthly Mortgage Payment: $758.88
  • Minimum Education Needed to Afford a Mortgage: HS Diploma or GED
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Mortgage: 13.6%
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Rent: 24.4%

Photo: aceshot1 / Shutterstock

Dallas
Dallas

Dallas

  • Median Monthly Mortgage Payment: $965.74
  • Minimum Education Needed to Afford a Mortgage: HS Diploma or GED
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Mortgage: 16.4%
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Rent: 28.0%

Photo: Dorti / Shutterstock

Detroit
Detroit

Detroit

  • Median Monthly Mortgage Payment: $639.10
  • Minimum Education Needed to Afford a Mortgage: HS Diploma or GED
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Mortgage: 12.5%
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Rent: 24%

Photo: Shutterstock

Hartford, Conn.
Hartford, Conn.

Hartford, Conn.

  • Median Monthly Mortgage Payment: $905.46
  • Minimum Education Needed to Afford a Mortgage: HS Diploma or GED
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Mortgage: 14.6%
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Rent: 25.9%

Photo: Shutterstock

Houston
Houston

Houston

  • Median Monthly Mortgage Payment: $814.05
  • Minimum Education Needed to Afford a Mortgage: HS Diploma or GED
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Mortgage: 14.8%
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Rent: 28.7%

Photo: Shutterstock

Indianapolis
Indianapolis

Indianapolis

  • Median Monthly Mortgage Payment: $658.01
  • Minimum Education Needed to Afford a Mortgage: HS Diploma or GED
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Mortgage: 12.7%
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Rent: 23.8%

Photo: Shutterstock

Jacksonville, Fla.
Jacksonville, Fla.

Jacksonville, Fla.

  • Median Monthly Mortgage Payment: $845.96
  • Minimum Education Needed to Afford a Mortgage: HS Diploma or GED
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Mortgage: 16.7%
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Rent: 27.5%

Photo: Rob Wilson/Shutterstock

Kansas City, Mo.
Kansas City, Mo.

Kansas City, Mo.

  • Median Monthly Mortgage Payment: $762.82
  • Minimum Education Needed to Afford a Mortgage: HS Diploma or GED
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Mortgage: 13.8%
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Rent: 23.4%

Photo: Tupungato / Shutterstock

Las Vegas
Las Vegas

Las Vegas

  • Median Monthly Mortgage Payment: $1,105.62
  • Minimum Education Needed to Afford a Mortgage: HS Diploma or GED
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Mortgage: 22%
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Rent: 27.8%

Photo: Shutterstock

Louisville, Ky.
Louisville, Ky.

Louisville, Ky.

  • Median Monthly Mortgage Payment: $638.71
  • Minimum Education Needed to Afford a Mortgage: HS Diploma or GED
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Mortgage: 12.8%
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Rent: 24%

Photo: f11photo / Shutterstock

Memphis
Memphis

Memphis

  • Median Monthly Mortgage Payment: $552.02
  • Minimum Education Needed to Afford a Mortgage: HS Diploma or GED
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Mortgage: 12.5%
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Rent: 25.5%

Photo: f11photo/Shutterstock

Milwaukee
Milwaukee

Milwaukee

  • Median Monthly Mortgage Payment: $917.67
  • Minimum Education Needed to Afford a Mortgage: HS Diploma or GED
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Mortgage: 17.7%
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Rent: 25.8%

Photo: f11photo/Shutterstock

Minneapolis-St. Paul
Minneapolis-St. Paul

Minneapolis-St. Paul

  • Median Monthly Mortgage Payment: $1,065.04
  • Minimum Education Needed to Afford a Mortgage: HS Diploma or GED
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Mortgage: 15.9%
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Rent: 25.4%

Photo: Shutterstock

Nashville, Tenn.
Nashville, Tenn.

Nashville, Tenn.

  • Median Monthly Mortgage Payment: $1,010.27
  • Minimum Education Needed to Afford a Mortgage: HS Diploma or GED
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Mortgage: 18.1%
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Rent: 27.3%

Photo: f11photo/Shutterstock

New Orleans
New Orleans

New Orleans

  • Median Monthly Mortgage Payment: $688.75
  • Minimum Education Needed to Afford a Mortgage: HS Diploma or GED
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Mortgage: 15.8%
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Rent: 32.7%

Photo: Shutterstock

Oklahoma City
Oklahoma City

Oklahoma City

  • Median Monthly Mortgage Payment: $578.42
  • Minimum Education Needed to Afford a Mortgage: No HS Diploma
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Mortgage: 11.8%
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Rent: 22.5%

In Oklahoma City, even a high school degree is not necessary for a household to afford the median-valued home.

Photo: iStock

Orlando
Orlando

Orlando

  • Median Monthly Mortgage Payment: $940.13
  • Minimum Education Needed to Afford a Mortgage: HS Diploma or GED
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Mortgage: 19.7%
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Rent: 32.1%

Photo: Shutterstock

Philadelphia
Philadelphia

Philadelphia

  • Median Monthly Mortgage Payment: $922.80
  • Minimum Education Needed to Afford a Mortgage: HS Diploma or GED
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Mortgage: 15.4%
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Rent: 26.8%

Pictured is the Schuylkill River at Boathouse Row in Philadelphia.

Photo: Shutterstock

Phoenix
Phoenix

Phoenix

  • Median Monthly Mortgage Payment: $1,050.06
  • Minimum Education Needed to Afford a Mortgage: HS Diploma or GED
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Mortgage: 19.4%
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Rent: 26.7%

Photo: Shutterstock

Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh

  • Median Monthly Mortgage Payment: $568.97
  • Minimum Education Needed to Afford a Mortgage: HS Diploma or GED
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Mortgage: 11.1%
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Rent: 21.4%

Photo: Shutterstock

Providence, R.I.
Providence, R.I.

Providence, R.I.

  • Median Monthly Mortgage Payment: $1,162.75
  • Minimum Education Needed to Afford a Mortgage: HS Diploma or GED
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Mortgage: 20.1%
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Rent: 29.3%

Photo: Shutterstock

Raleigh, N.C.
Raleigh, N.C.

Raleigh, N.C.

  • Median Monthly Mortgage Payment: $1,049.28
  • Minimum Education Needed to Afford a Mortgage: HS Diploma or GED
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Mortgage: 16.7%
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Rent: 23.2%

Photo: Shutterstock

Richmond, Va.
Richmond, Va.

Richmond, Va.

  • Median Monthly Mortgage Payment: $905.85
  • Minimum Education Needed to Afford a Mortgage: HS Diploma or GED
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Mortgage: 15.4%
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Rent: 24.2%

Photo: Shutterstock

St. Louis
St. Louis

St. Louis

  • Median Monthly Mortgage Payment: $658.41
  • Minimum Education Needed to Afford a Mortgage: HS Diploma or GED
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Mortgage: 12.2%
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Rent: 21.5%

Photo: duckeesue / Shutterstock

San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio, Texas

San Antonio, Texas

  • Median Monthly Mortgage Payment: $766.37
  • Minimum Education Needed to Afford a Mortgage: HS Diploma or GED
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Mortgage: 15.7%
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Rent: 28%

Photo: Shutterstock

Tampa, Fla.
Tampa, Fla.

Tampa, Fla.

  • Median Monthly Mortgage Payment: $844.39
  • Minimum Education Needed to Afford a Mortgage: HS Diploma or GED
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Mortgage: 18.7%
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Rent: 31.9%

Photo: Jason Sponseller / Shutterstock

Virginia Beach, Va.
Virginia Beach, Va.

Virginia Beach, Va.

  • Median Monthly Mortgage Payment: $907.03
  • Minimum Education Needed to Afford a Mortgage: HS Diploma or GED
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Mortgage: 16.3%
  • Percent of Income Spent on Median Rent: 26%

See the Zillow study to learn more about the full methodology, or look up your city to see the share of income spent on housing.

Photo: Shutterstock

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