Special Report

Cities Where the Middle Class Can No Longer Afford a Home

Source: Thinkstock

20. Stockton-Lodi, CA
> Cost-burdened middle-class households: 30.2%
> Median single-family home value: $347,675
> Median household income: $59,518
> Homeownership rate: 54.1%

Over the past two decades, rising home prices in the Stockton-Lodi metro area have led to increased housing cost burdens for the middle class. The median home value in Stockton rose by 28.2%, from $271,104 in 2000 to $347,675 in 2017, a larger increase than in the majority of U.S. metro areas. Today, some 30.2% of households earning between $45,000 and $74,999 — the middle income quintile nationwide — in the metro area spend at least 30% of their incomes on housing, more than the 22.0% of households in this income bracket nationwide and one of the largest shares of any U.S. metro area.

Source: Thinkstock

19. Austin-Round Rock, TX
> Cost-burdened middle-class households: 30.7%
> Median single-family home value: $287,325
> Median household income: $71,000
> Homeownership rate: 57.6%

Austin-Round Rock is one of 20 major metro areas where more than 30% of middle-income households — those earning $45,000 to $74,999 annually — are housing-cost burdened. Unlike the vast majority of U.S. metro areas, housing costs are higher today in Austin than they were 10 years ago. Nationwide, the cost of a monthly mortgage payment on a typical home is 18.1% lower today than it was a decade ago. Meanwhile, in Austin, the median monthly mortgage payment is 14.4% higher than it was 10 years ago.

As is the case nationwide, renters in Austin are more likely to struggle to afford housing than homeowners. Some 47.1% of renters across all income levels in Austin are housing-cost burdened as of 2016, compared to 22.2% of homeowners.

Source: Thinkstock

18. Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD
> Cost-burdened middle-class households: 33.7%
> Median single-family home value: $258,343
> Median household income: $76,788
> Homeownership rate: 65.3%

Just over one in every three households with annual earnings between $45,000 and $74,999 in the Baltimore metro area are housing-cost burdened. Some 6.3% of households in the same income range are severely burdened — spending over half of their income on housing. For reference, 3.9% of middle-class households nationwide spend over half of their income on housing. Property values are climbing rapidly in the Baltimore metro area. The median home price was 40% higher at the end of 2017 than it was at the end of 2000, a greater increase than in the vast majority of U.S. metro areas.

While Baltimore suffers from an apparent shortage of middle-market housing options, there is an even more limited supply of affordable housing for low-income residents. Some 57.5% of metro area households earning between $30,000 and $44,999 are housing-cost burdened, well above the 42.6% comparable share nationwide.

Source: Thinkstock

17. Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA
> Cost-burdened middle-class households: 33.9%
> Median single-family home value: $379,891
> Median household income: $68,676
> Homeownership rate: 61.7%

Rapid population growth in the Portland-Vancouver-HIllsboro metro area over the past several years has led to higher home prices, which made the city far less affordable for a number of middle class residents. The population of Portland grew by 7.2% from 2011 to 2016, nearly twice the 3.7% national growth rate for the same period. The median home value in the metro rose 65.6% from $229,404 in 2000 to $379,891 in 2017, the largest percentage increase of any U.S. city.

Today, some 33.9% of households earning between $45,000 and $74,999 a year in the Portland metro area spend at least 30% of their incomes on housing, far more than the 22.0% of middle-income households nationwide who are housing-cost burdened and one of the largest shares in the country.

Source: Thinkstock

16. Sacramento–Roseville–Arden-Arcade, CA
> Cost-burdened middle-class households: 33.9%
> Median single-family home value: $391,391
> Median household income: $64,052
> Homeownership rate: 59.1%

Housing costs have climbed far faster than incomes in the Sacramento metro area in recent years. Half a decade ago the price of a typical area home was 3.1 times greater than the area’s median income. Today a typical home in Sacramento costs 5.2 times the median income, nearly the highest price-income ratio of any metro area. Partially as a result, some 33.9% of households earning between $45,000 and $74,999 are burdened by housing costs, well above the 22.0% of middle-income households nationwide. Meanwhile, just 7.4% of households earning at least $75,000 in Sacramento are housing-cost burdened, only slightly more than the comparable 6.2% national share.