School is back in session! For many teachers who don't teach summer school, that means a long-awaited payday is just around the corner. But is it enough?
New Zillow data shows that teachers may be struggling to pay their rent or mortgage. In fact, the average rent is unaffordable for entry-level teachers in 49 of the U.S.' 50 largest metros, with median market rents taking around 46.8 percent of an average starting teacher's salary, 35.6 percent for those at the mid-level and 26.6 percent for teachers receiving the highest salaries.
For those just starting out as teachers, housing can pose a challenge. Only Pittsburgh ranks as an affordable U.S. metro for entry-level teachers looking to rent, but payment still takes nearly 30 percent of their salary. In areas like San Jose, Calif., paying rent on their own is pretty much out of the question—the median rent eats up 108.3 percent of the average new-teacher salary. And homeownership here for this same group is even more out of reach, with median home mortgages taking 129 percent of their salary.
But in most places, teachers are better off owning than renting, at least right now due to low interest rates and long mortgage pay-off terms. New teachers pay 26.6 percent of their salaries toward a median mortgage, with mid-career teachers paying 20.2 percent and high-pay teachers paying 15.1 percent.
Here's where today's teachers stand in terms of salary-to-housing payment ratio:
1. New York, N.Y.
Median Rent: $2,407
Starting Teacher – Share of Salary on Median Rent / Mortgage: 52.5% / 35.8 %
Median Teacher – Share of Salary on Median Rent / Mortgage: 39.8% / 27.2%
Highest-Paid Teacher – Share of Salary on Median Rent / Mortgage: 30.4% / 20.7%
2. Los Angeles, Calif.
Median Rent: $2,836
Starting Teacher: 85.1% / 72.2%
Median Teacher: 52.2% / 44.3%
Highest-Paid Teacher: 39.6% / 33.6%
3. Chicago, Ill.
Median Rent: $1,713
Starting Teacher: 46.7% / 22.7%
Median Teacher: 34.3% / 16.7%
Highest-Paid Teacher: 25.7% / 12.5%
4. Dallas, Texas
Median Rent: $1,661
Starting Teacher: 47.5% / 25.7%
Median Teacher: 38.3% / 20.8%
Highest-Paid Teacher: 35% / 18.9%
5. Philadelphia, Pa.
Median Rent: $1,614
Starting Teacher: 39.1% / 20.9%
Median Teacher: 29.8% / 15.9%
Highest-Paid Teacher: 23.3% / 12.4%
6. Houston, Texas
Median Rent: $1,588
Starting Teacher: 44.1% / 21.2%
Median Teacher: 36.6% / 17.6%
Highest-Paid Teacher: 32.9% / 15.8%
7. Washington, D.C.
Median Rent: $2,185
Starting Teacher: 54.6%/ 37.7%
Median Teacher: 43.7% / 30.2%
Highest-Paid Teacher: 32.8% / 22.6%
8. Miami, Fla.
Median Rent: $1,938
Starting Teacher: 72.1% / 38.9%
Median Teacher: 51.7% / 27.9%
Highest-Paid Teacher: 41.5% / 22.4%
9. Atlanta, Ga.
Median Rent: $1,475
Starting Teacher: 44.3% / 24.4%
Median Teacher: 35.4% / 19.5%
Highest-Paid Teacher: 28.1% / 15.5%
10. Boston, Mass.
Median Rent: $2,433
Starting Teacher: 67.9% / 48%
Median Teacher: 45.6% / 32.3%
Highest-Paid Teacher: 36.5% / 25.8%
"Most acknowledge that building more homes is required to address the root cause of eroding housing affordability. Without that new influx to take the pressure off rent and aggressive home value growth, it's the public servants, like teachers, fire fighters and nurses—the professions that keep us safe, our kids smart and our families healthy—that often feel the pinch most," said Skylar Olsen, Zillow's director of Economic Research, in a statement. "So don't think of housing affordability policies as a choice between change and the status quo. Crowded, job-rich communities will change—and it will be either the buildings that change or the mix of people who can afford to live in them."
For more information, visit www.zillow.com.