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The Salary You Need to Afford a Median-Priced Home in 20 California Cities

Buying a home always comes at a price and in California, the cost can vary wildly based on which part of the Golden State you call home.

It’s no secret that California residents face a higher cost of living, along with an average credit card debt of $5,040, according to Credit Sesame’s internal data. High taxes are part of the problem but a steady demand for housing means homeowners aren’t getting out cheap.

According to Credit Sesame’s internal data, the average California homeowner is carrying $239,872 in mortgage debt. That’s roughly double the $117,000 the Census Bureau estimates as the national average.

Credit Sesame’s data also shows that Californians also carry an average credit card debt of $5,040.

We decided to take a closer look at 20 California cities to see what it takes to afford a median-priced property. Overall, we found that when it comes to how far your salary will go towards buying a home here, it really is all about location, location, location.

1. Farmersville
Salary Needed: $22,584

Home of the Aztecs, no, not those Aztecs. Photo: http://bit.ly/1WCNMx8

Snapshot:

Median home price: $127,600

Loan value (80%): $102,080

Average interest rate: 3.7%

Monthly payment: $659

Annual salary needed: $22,584

Farmersville’s motto is “The world is quiet here” and that’s an appropriate way to describe this small town of about 10,000 people. Roughly halfway between Fresno and Bakersfield, Farmersville ranked as the most affordable city on our list for home buyers.

2. Brawley
Salary Needed: $26,194

Named in honor J.H. Braly, who refused to let his name be used, so they renamed it to Brawley. #truestory Photo: http://bit.ly/1S3J44P

Snapshot:

Median home price: $150,700

Loan value (80%): $120,560

Average interest rate: 3.7%

Monthly payment: $764

Annual salary needed: $26,184

Living in Southern California has its perks but inexpensive housing usually isn’t one of them. Brawley, situated about two hours east of San Diego, is an exception, with residents able to afford a home on less than $30,000 a year.

3. Apple Valley
Salary Needed: $33,252

Cuba Gooding Jr live there. Roy Rogers died there. Photo: http://bit.ly/1HhuxlI

Snapshot:

Median home price: $196,500

Loan value (80%): $157,200

Average interest rate: 3.7%

Monthly payment: $970

Annual salary needed: $33,252

As part of the Victor Valley area that includes Victorville and Hesperia, Apple Valley boasts the lowest median sale prices of the three. 

4. Kingsburg
Salary Needed: $38,640

Home to the worlds largest box of raisins. Trick or treaters be warned. Photo:http://bit.ly/1HxuCfP

Snapshot:

Median home price: $231,200

Loan value (80%): $184,960

Average interest rate: 3.7%

Monthly payment: $1,127

Annual salary needed: $38,640

Kingsburg is part of the Fresno metropolitan area and it’s just up the road from Farmersville. Compared to Fresno as a whole, homes sell for a little more but the median property value is nearly $50,000 higher.

5. Cathedral City
Salary Needed: $39,864

Spoiler alert: contains no cathedrals. Photo: http://bit.ly/1LWavMq

Snapshot:

Median home price: $239,100

Loan value (80%): $191,280

Average interest rate: 3.7%

Monthly payment: $1,163

Annual salary needed: $39,864

Housing is pricier in Palm Springs because of its status as a tourist hotspot but next door in Cathedral City, real estate is a better bargain. It’s possible to afford a great home here without having to crack the $40,000 annual salary mark.

6. Beaumont
Salary Needed: $42,888

Professional Wrestler Gorgeous George had a 195-acre turkey ranch here. Photo: http://bit.ly/1MozeKM

Snapshot:

Median home price: $258,600

Loan value (80%): $206,880

Average interest rate: 3.7%

Monthly payment: $1,251

Annual salary needed: $42,888

About 40,000 people live in Beaumont and one of the best things about this city is its central location. It’s about a 30-minute drive from San Bernardino and Riverside and the fact the housing isn’t a budget-killer makes it a good pick for commuters.

7. Chico
Salary Needed: $46,008

If Sacramento was ever evacuated, Chico would be the designated provincial capital of California. Photo: http://bit.ly/1GP9eIn

Snapshot:

Median home price: $278,700

Loan value (80%): $222,960

Average interest rate: 3.7%

Monthly payment: $1,342

Annual salary needed: $46,008

If you’d rather settle down in Northern California, Chico is worth a look. You’ll need to make a little more to afford a home here compared to nearby Red Bluff but since its so much larger, you have a lot more amenities to enjoy.

8. Cudahy
Salary Needed: $57,900

This city of only a square mile has the highest population density of any city in the US. Photo: http://bit.ly/1Pfp0Pp

 Snapshot:

Median home price: $355,600

Loan value (80%): $284,480

Average interest rate: 3.7%

Monthly payment: $1,689

Annual salary needed: $57,900

Cudahy is a suburb located south of Los Angeles and it also rubs elbows with Downey to the east. Compared to its neighbors, homes aren’t as expensive but you’ll still need close to a $60,000 annual salary to cover the monthly mortgage payments.

9. Santee
Salary Needed: $67,368

Home of the Las Colinas Detention Facility which houses San Diego's female offenders. Photo: http://bit.ly/1WFxhep

Snapshot:

Median home price: $416,800

Loan value (80%): $334,440

Average interest rate: 3.7%

Monthly payment: $1,965

Annual salary needed: $67,368

As a growing suburb of San Diego, Santee’s housing market has been on fire, with home values rising nearly 7 percent in the last year alone according to Zillow. With the monthly loan payment hovering around $2,000, it takes a fatter paycheck to be a homeowner here.

10. La Habra
Salary Needed: $76,104

Famed "Octomom" lives here. Photo: http://bit.ly/1S3RzwH

Snapshot:

Median home price: $473,300

Loan value (80%): $378,640

Average interest rate: 3.7%

Monthly payment: $2,220

Annual salary needed: $76,104

La Habra is close to Anaheim but its housing market is a little easier on the wallet. The median sale price is about $40,000.

11. Brentwood
Salary Needed: $77,340

Seven consecutive year its been on the list of "Playful City USA". Photo: http://bit.ly/1GPaWcu

Snapshot:

Median home price: $481,300

Loan value (80%): $385,040

Average interest rate: 3.7%

Monthly payment: $2,256

Annual salary needed: $77,340

Housing in the Bay Area can be hard to come by depending on where you decide to live. If you’ve got your eye on Brentwood, be prepared to spend just over $2,200 a month on a mortgage payment.

12. Napa
Salary Needed: $83,208

You should really try the wine, I hear it's quite good. Photo: http://bit.ly/1S3TilE

Snapshot:

Median home price: $519,000

Loan value (80%): $415,200

Average interest rate: 3.7%

Monthly payment: $2,427

Annual salary needed: $83,208

The Napa Valley wine country is certainly beautiful but you’re not going to get out cheap living here. You’ll need an annual salary of at least $83,000 to afford a median priced home in the city of Napa.

13. Burbank
Salary Needed: $106,488

"Media Capital of the World." Photo: http://bit.ly/1S3RzwH

Snapshot:

Median home price: $669,500

Loan value (80%): $535,600

Average interest rate: 3.7%

Monthly payment: $3,106

Annual salary needed: $106,488

Burbank is the largest city in our rankings so far, with a population of around 105,000 people. Since it’s so close to L.A., it’s natural for housing to be more expensive here and you’ll need a six-figure annual income to swing the median mortgage payment.

14. Carlsbad
Salary Needed: $112,560

Both Hotdog on a Stick and Jenny Craig have a their headquarters here. Photo: http://bit.ly/1HxBiKQ

Snapshot:

Median home price: $708,600

Loan value (80%): $566,880

Average interest rate: 3.7%

Monthly payment: $3,283

Annual salary needed: $112,560

Homeowners who want an ocean view are going to pay a pretty penny for them in Carlsbad. If you’re not earning more than $100,000 a year, affording a median-priced home in this beachfront city is out of the question.

15. Alameda
Salary Needed: $129,912

Shirley Temple lived here. Photo: http://bit.ly/1kfKEpT

Snapshot:

Median home price: $820,700

Loan value (80%): $656,560

Average interest rate: 3.7%

Monthly payment: $3,789

Annual salary needed: $129,912

Alameda is just across the Bay from San Francisco and its housing prices mirror those of its counterpart. With home values continue to rise, buyers will need to bring some serious bucks to the table to seal the deal.

16. Pleasanton
Salary Needed: $146,496

The wealthiest mid-sized city in the US in 2007. Photo: http://bit.ly/1HhHR9B

Snapshot:

Median home price: $927,800

Loan value (80%): $742,240

Average interest rate: 3.7%

Monthly payment: $4,273

Annual salary needed: $146,496

Pleasanton lives up to its name and this Bay Area suburb attracts a lot of families and young professionals. In terms of affordability, it’s definitely a step up budget-wise, compared to surrounding cities like Livermore or Fremont.

17. Arcadia
Salary Needed: $171,943

The famed Route 66 passed through Acadia. Photo: http://bit.ly/1OzIJJk

Snapshot:

Median home price: $1,092,300

Loan value (80%): $873,840

Average interest rate: 3.7%

Monthly payment: $5,015

Annual salary needed: $171,943

Arcadia is a more affluent city and buying a home here is going to take more than chump change. The median home price approaches $1.1 million so if you’re not making at least $172,000 a year, it may be a no-go.

18. Mountain View
Salary Needed: $215,688

Residents in Mountain View love computers so much they dedicated a museum to them. Photo: http://bit.ly/1L6Mpe8

Snapshot:

Median home price: $1,374,800

Loan value (80%): $1,099,840

Average interest rate: 3.7%

Monthly payment: $6,291

Annual salary needed: $215,688

The tech boom has made Mountain View a mecca of sorts for young professionals, with companies like Google, LinkedIn and even Credit Sesame headquartered here. If you’re house-shopping in this area, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a home for sale under the million-dollar range.

19. Malibu
Salary Needed: $412,728

Malibu Surfrider Beach was dedicated as the first World Surfing Reserve. Photo: http://bit.ly/1L6Mpe8

Snapshot:

Median home price: $2,647,400

Loan value (80%): $2,117,920

Average interest rate: 3.7%

Monthly payment: $12,038

Annual salary needed: $412,728

If you’re in search of warm, sandy beaches and beautiful people, you’re guaranteed to find plenty of both in Malibu. Just make sure you’re bringing along a big bankroll since it takes a salary of more than $400,000 a year to afford a home here.

20. Beverly Hills
Salary Needed: $446,496

Rodeo Drive shopping tip: If you have ask, you can't afford it. Photo: http://bit.ly/1kGEXkl

Snapshot:

Median home price: $2,865,600

Loan value (80%): $2,292,480

Average interest rate: 3.7%

Monthly payment: $13,023

Annual salary needed: $446,496

Beverly Hills has the distinction of being the most expensive city on our list for housing. Multi-million dollar homes are par for the course, with homeowners coughing up $13,000 a month to cover the mortgage.

Methodology

To compile our rankings, we drew on data from several sources.

The median mortgage debt information for California came from Credit Sesame’s internal database. Population figures were pulled from the Census Bureau.

Median home prices for each city were drawn from Zillow, as were the 30-year fixed mortgage rates. For property taxes, we used the 1% base rate, mandated by the California Legislature.

We calculated the monthly payment amount using Zillow’s mortgage calculator. One factor used in the calculation was the average homeowner’s insurance premium in California of $996 per year, which was sourced from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

To get the final salary figures, we assumed a 35% debt ratio to calculate the minimum pre-tax income required to buy a home in each city. We then ranked each city from 1 to 20, starting with the lowest salary needed first.

City NameMedian Home PriceLoan Value (80%)Average Interest RateMonthly Loan AmountAnnual Salary Needed 
1. Farmersville1276001020800.03765922584
2. Brawley1507001205600.03776426184
3. Apple Valley1965001572000.03797033252
4. Kingsburg2312001849600.037112738640
5. Cathedral City2391001912800.037116339864
6. Beaumont2586002068800.037125142888
7. Chico2787002229600.037134246008
8. Cudahy3556002844800.037168957900
9. Santee4168003334400.037196567368
10. La Habra4733003786400.037222076104
11. Brentwood4813003850400.037225677340
12. Napa5190004152000.037242783208
13. Burbank6695005356000.0373106106488
14. Carlsbad7086005668800.0373283112560
15. Alameda8207006565600.0373789129912
16. Pleasanton9278007422400.0374273146496
17. Arcadia10923008738400.0375015171943
18. Mountain View137480010998400.0376291215688
19. Malibu264740021179200.03712038412728
20. Beverly Hills286560022924800.03713023446496

Sources:

http://www.zillow.com/

http://www.lao.ca.gov/reports/2012/tax/property-tax-primer-112912.aspx

https://www.census.gov/

http://www.federalreserve.gov/

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