How Much You Need to Earn to Buy a House in Each State

By Amanda Postma - Jan. 14, 2021

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Buying a house is a big step. It’s a sign that you’re growing up. It’s also a sign of your success and prosperity as outlined by the 1931 American dream.

But not everyone’s paycheck nowadays can support such a feat. In fact, only 64% are said to own their home.

We found the average home value along with the average monthly payments to determine how much you would have to earn to live in each state. If you’re wanting to settle down and buy a house, you might want to avoid living in these states.

The 10 Most Expensive States to Buy a House

  1. Hawaii
  2. California
  3. Massachusetts
  4. Colorado
  5. Washington
  6. Oregon
  7. New York
  8. New Jersey
  9. Maryland
  10. Utah

We didn’t just find the most expensive states to buy a home, though. We found out what you’ll have to earn to buy a house in every state so make sure to check out the table below so you know where to live.

How We Determined This

This one was fairly simple. We started by finding out the average home value in each state from the US Census.

Home costs will vary within a state. Similarly, some buyers choose more or less expensive houses based on income and personal taste. However, since we are going for a top look at housing and income, the average seemed like a good starting point.

From there, we applied a standard 30-year mortgage with a 3.9% interest rate to work out the monthly payment. We did not take into account PMI, taxes, down payment size, or home insurance, since those differ greatly within states and based on individual circumstances.

However, they do greatly impact personal buyer circumstances, so if you’re looking to buy, you should evaluate what your personal circumstances are.

Once we determined the monthly payment, we determined how much yearly salary a homeowner would need for it not to exceed more than 28% of their gross income. In general, 28% is a rough rule of thumb.

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Homeowners with more debt will need to go lower. Others might choose to go lower to avoid being over-leveraged.

1. Hawaii

hawaii class=

Salary Needed: $135,900
Median Home Price: $670,600
Average Monthly Payment: $3,171

Everyone wants to live in paradise. Unfortunately, that comes at a steep price. Hawaii, with its volcanic mountains and beautiful beaches, is the most expensive state to buy a house.

The median home price alone is $670,600. If you break that down into a mortgage it comes out to $3,171 a month. That means you’ll need to be making at least $135,900 a year to be able to afford your house.

2. California

california class=

Salary Needed: $118,157
Median Home Price: $583,200
Average Monthly Payment: $2,757

Another paradise state, California ranks right up there beside Hawaii. The beaches, big city life, theme parks and tech scene are what call people to this state. It’s a state that has it all. Except for low home prices.

If you want to buy a home here, you’ll have to be making $118,157 a year to be able to afford your monthly mortgage payment of $2,757. You just need to decide if it’s worth it.

3. Massachusetts

massachusetts class=

Salary Needed: $86,143
Median Home Price: $425,100
Average Monthly Payment: $2,010

Massachusetts is the third-most-expensive state to purchase a home. From all of the history that lives there to how big of a sports scene the state has, it’s easy to see why people want to live there.

Unfortunately, not everyone has the luxury of making $86,143 a year to be able to afford a $425,100 house. More power to you if you can!

4. Colorado

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Salary Needed: $81,600
Median Home Price: $402,600
Average Monthly Payment: $1,904

Swish, swish, swishing down the mountains in Colorado is about all you can afford there. That is unless you’re making $81,600 in which case you might be able to buy a house.

The average home in Colorado costs $402,600, which boils down to $1,904 a month. Even if you are making enough to buy a house, you might not have enough money to buy ski passes.

5. Washington

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Salary Needed: $80,914
Median Home Price: $399,400
Average Monthly Payment: $1,888

The only state to be named after a president is too expensive to buy a house. As the fifth-most expensive place to buy a home, the state of Washington is appealing to most people for its rich history, Space Needle and coffee.

The median home price in Washington costs a whopping $399,400. This means you’ll be spending $1,888 each month on a mortgage. To be able to pull that off you’ll most likely need to make $80,914. Time to find a really good job!

6. Oregon

oregon class=

Salary Needed: $73,971
Median Home Price: $365,000
Average Monthly Payment: $1,726

There are a lot of great things about the state of Oregon. But the one downside is that it’s so expensive to buy a home. The price you have to pay to be able to enjoy the coast and mountains might not be worth it.

Oregon’s average home costs $365,000 which translates to a monthly mortgage payment of $1,726. So basically, you’ll need to make at least $73,971 in order to not go bankrupt.

7. New York

new york class=

Salary Needed: $73,114
Median Home Price: $360,900
Average Monthly Payment: $1,706

Frank Sinatra may have left for New York, but it doesn’t mean that you should. Especially if you’re making less than $73,114 a year.

The state has a lot to offer in terms of career opportunities and things to do. But it also requires a lot in return. The median home price is $360,900, which is a $1,706 monthly price.

8. New Jersey

new jersey class=

Salary Needed: $71,957
Median Home Price: $355,200
Average Monthly Payment: $1,679

If you’re a New Yorker, you’re probably not interested in New Jersey, which is probably a good thing. For all the rest of you, we’d suggest steering clear of the state if you want to buy a home.

New Jersey’s average house costs $355,200. So in order to own a house in the state, you’ll need to make a minimum of $71,957 a year. In that case, it might be a good idea to start saving up now.

9. Maryland

maryland class=

Salary Needed: $68,957
Median Home Price: $340,400
Average Monthly Payment: $1,609

Maryland is the ninth-most expensive state when it comes to purchasing a house. With an average monthly payment of $1,609, moving here seems hardly worth it.

Since the median home costs $340,400, you’ll need an income of at least $68,957 annually.

10. Utah

utah class=

Salary Needed: $68,357
Median Home Price: $337,300
Average Monthly Payment: $1,595

Utah may be pretty with its mountain ranges covered in snow and it’s incredible hiking opportunities, but the housing market there is not pretty.

You’ll have a hard time finding a home there unless you’re making $68,357 a year or more. The average home costs $337,300, which breaks down to $1,595 a month.

Breaking the Bank to Live the American Dream

Buying a house when you grow up is the goal of many Americans. But unfortunately, many grow up to find out they can’t afford it.

We determined that it was the hardest to find an affordable home in these 10 states. The average house in these states are pretty expensive so you’d have to have a decent salary to even consider purchasing a house.

Luckily, we didn’t stop with just the most expensive. We found the least expensive states, as well as everything in between. Check out the table below for the complete list of what to expect in each state.

The Most and Least Expensive States to Buy a House

Rank State Salary Needed Median Home Price Average Monthly Payment
1 Hawaii $135,900 $670,600 $3,171
2 California $118,157 $583,200 $2,757
3 Massachusetts $86,143 $425,100 $2,010
4 Colorado $81,600 $402,600 $1,904
5 Washington $80,914 $399,400 $1,888
6 Oregon $73,971 $365,000 $1,726
7 New York $73,114 $360,900 $1,706
8 New Jersey $71,957 $355,200 $1,679
9 Maryland $68,957 $340,400 $1,609
10 Utah $68,357 $337,300 $1,595
11 Nevada $66,214 $326,800 $1,545
12 Virginia $63,429 $313,100 $1,480
13 Alaska $60,386 $298,000 $1,409
14 New Hampshire $58,843 $290,300 $1,373
15 Connecticut $57,729 $284,800 $1,347
16 Rhode Island $57,000 $281,200 $1,330
17 Arizona $55,586 $274,300 $1,297
18 Montana $55,500 $273,800 $1,295
19 Delaware $54,343 $268,200 $1,268
20 Idaho $54,086 $266,900 $1,262
21 Florida $52,971 $261,400 $1,236
22 Minnesota $52,286 $258,100 $1,220
23 Wyoming $49,371 $243,600 $1,152
24 Vermont $49,071 $242,100 $1,145
25 Texas $46,671 $230,400 $1,089
26 North Dakota $46,071 $227,400 $1,075
27 Illinois $45,386 $224,000 $1,059
28 Georgia $45,086 $222,600 $1,052
29 Maine $43,543 $214,900 $1,016
30 North Carolina $43,500 $214,700 $1,015
31 Pennsylvania $42,686 $210,700 $996
32 Tennessee $42,257 $208,600 $986
33 Wisconsin $41,571 $205,200 $970
34 South Carolina $41,271 $203,600 $963
35 South Dakota $40,543 $200,100 $946
36 New Mexico $39,771 $196,300 $928
37 Louisiana $38,614 $190,500 $901
38 Nebraska $37,971 $187,400 $886
39 Michigan $37,414 $184,600 $873
40 Missouri $36,557 $180,400 $853
41 Kansas $36,429 $179,700 $850
42 Alabama $34,114 $168,300 $796
43 Iowa $33,943 $167,500 $792
44 Kentucky $33,814 $166,800 $789
45 Ohio $33,557 $165,500 $783
46 Indiana $33,129 $163,400 $773
47 Oklahoma $32,571 $160,800 $760
48 Mississippi $31,457 $155,200 $734
49 West Virginia $31,286 $154,500 $730
50 Arkansas $30,943 $152,800 $722

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Amanda Postma

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Amanda Postma

Amanda Postma is a writer for the Zippia Career Advice blog with a focus on creating entertaining content to help you through your job search. She received her BA from the University Of Missouri-Columbia.

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