New Teachers Are Struggling to Pay Their Rent, Zillow Data Shows

Posted on Aug 30 2019 - 1:30pm by Liz Dominguez

teachers rent

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."

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2 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Constance Toupin September 7, 2019 at 2:07 pm - Reply

    Really. Teachers work 9 months a year and they can have their spread over 12 months.
    Affordable housing has many factors such as the do goodies that really don’t understand reality

    Constant legal battles against landlords and the “bad tenants” in Minneapolis being able to hide their unlawful detainees, evictions and felonies. Good tenants don’t all theses restrictions. The bad tenants steal rents by non payment. . Destroy properties thus stealing again from the landlords. Rents go up to try and offset the thefts from tenant. If these bad tenants stole $1500 from Target they would up in jail…

    Totally ridiculous property taxes. And the counties and cities continue to out spend themselves… not only to ride up the taxes as the property value increases but increase their per diet… Really tenants need to really learn who promise everything. They need to learn the economics and stop voting for the liberals.. they’re destroying the middle class with over taxation.

    Unfortunately most teachers are taught in very liberal universities and can only blame their vote for their situations…

  2. Con tou September 7, 2019 at 2:12 pm - Reply

    If teachers keep voting in the liberal spenders and the anti landlord politicians they will continue to pay high rents due to ridiculous high taxes and raised rents due to bad tenants pushing up the cost of doing building as a landlord

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