It’s one thing to be able to afford buying a house. But it’s quite another thing to be able to pay the household bills each month so that you can keep a roof over your head. Aside from the mortgage, there are expenses like taxes and utilities that bump up the household budget.

Those costs weigh on the minds of many Americans. In a survey conducted earlier this year for the MacArthur Foundation, 68 percent of American adults said they think it’s more challenging today to obtain stable, affordable housing than it was in previous generations.

“Too many Americans today believe the dream of a decent, stable home, and the prospects for social mobility, are receding,” says Julia Stasch, president of the MacArthur Foundation. “Having a decent, stable, affordable home is about more than shelter: It is at the core of strong, vibrant and healthy families and communities.”

Julia Stasch

Julia Stasch is president of the MacArthur Foundation.
Photo: MacArthur Foundation

Out of Reach

We’ve all heard about the astronomical housing costs in cities like San Francisco and New York, but it appears that the dream of homeownership is slipping away in other places, too.

“While the vast majority of housing markets are still affordable by their own historic standards, home prices are floating out of reach for average wage earners in a growing number of U.S. housing markets,” says Daren Blomquist, senior vice president of ATTOM Data Solutions, which tracks housing trends. “The recent drop in interest rates has helped to soften the blow of high-flying price appreciation in some markets, but the affordability equation could change quickly if interest rates trend higher and home prices continue to rise faster than wages.”

dollar bills

Two of the 14 metro areas where your household dollar goes farther are in Ohio.

Stretching Your Dollar

Fortunately, that pain isn’t being felt too severely in some U.S. metro areas. In fact, we’ve come up with a list of the 14 Metro Areas Where Owning a Home Won’t Bust Your Budget.

To compile our list, we looked at data for the country’s 100 largest metro areas from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. Results of the 2015 survey were released recently.

In the Census Bureau data, we zeroed in on two statistics:

  • The percentage of mortgaged homes with at least 35 percent of household income being consumed by monthly home-related expenses. In this case, a lower percentage is better. Nationally, the figure for this category is 18.1 percent.
  • The percentage of mortgaged homes with less than 20 percent of household income being consumed by monthly home-related expenses. In this case, a higher percentage is better. Nationally, the figure for this category is 51.3 percent.

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Property taxes are among the monthly household expenses included in our ranking.

Then, we ranked the 100 largest metro areas by evenly weighting those two sets of data on housing expenses. The Census Bureau defines monthly household expenses as including:

  • Mortgage
  • Second mortgage
  • Home equity loans
  • Property taxes
  • Homeowners insurance
  • Condo fees
  • Utilities such as electricity and water

Budget-Friendly Metros

So, which metro areas rose to the top of the list? Here’s our ranking of the 14 Metro Areas Where Owning a Home Won’t Bust Your Budget.

1. Des Moines, IA

Des Moines skyline

Photo: Pixabay

Share of mortgaged homes with at least 35% of income eaten up by household expenses: 14.1%
Share of mortgaged homes with less than 20% of income eaten up by household expenses: 54.7%

2. Indianapolis, IN

Indianapolis skyline

Photo: Flickr/Chris Bowman

Share of mortgaged homes with at least 35% of income eaten up by household expenses: 15.3%
Share of mortgaged homes with less than 20% of income eaten up by household expenses: 55.2%

3. Grand Rapids, MI

Grand Rapids MI

Photo: Flickr/Michael J

Share of mortgaged homes with at least 35% of income eaten up by household expenses: 14.8%
Share of mortgaged homes with less than 20% of income eaten up by household expenses: 53.5%

4. Pittsburgh, PA

Pittsburgh PA

Photo: Flickr/Dean Sorenson

Share of mortgaged homes with at least 35% of income eaten up by household expenses: 16.1%
Share of mortgaged homes with less than 20% of income eaten up by household expenses: 54.0%

5. Buffalo, NY

Buffalo NY

Photo: Flickr/David Wilson

Share of mortgaged homes with at least 35% of income eaten up by household expenses: 16.4%
Share of mortgaged homes with less than 20% of income eaten up by household expenses: 53.6%

6. Akron, OH

Akron OH

Photo: Flickr/Michelle

Share of mortgaged homes with at least 35% of income eaten up by household expenses: 15.8%
Share of mortgaged homes with less than 20% of income eaten up by household expenses: 52.1%

7. Little Rock, AR

Little Rock Arkansas

Photo: Flickr/Arkansas Highways

Share of mortgaged homes with at least 35% of income eaten up by household expenses: 16.6%
Share of mortgaged homes with less than 20% of income eaten up by household expenses: 52.8%

8. Kansas City, MO

Kansas City MO

Photo: Flickr/Dean Hochman

Share of mortgaged homes with at least 35% of income eaten up by household expenses: 15.2%
Share of mortgaged homes with less than 20% of income eaten up by household expenses: 50.6%

9. Baton Rouge, LA

Baton Rouge

Photo: Flickr/Antrell Williams

Share of mortgaged homes with at least 35% of income eaten up by household expenses: 17.3%
Share of mortgaged homes with less than 20% of income eaten up by household expenses: 53.6%

10. Greenville, SC

Greenville SC

Photo: PuroClean

Share of mortgaged homes with at least 35% of income eaten up by household expenses: 17.1%
Share of mortgaged homes with less than 20% of income eaten up by household expenses: 52.9%

11. Toledo, OH

Toledo Ohio

Photo: Flickr/Vicki Timman

Share of mortgaged homes with at least 35% of income eaten up by household expenses: 16.7%
Share of mortgaged homes with than 20% of income eaten up by household expenses: 51.8%

12. Raleigh, NC

Raleigh NC

Photo: Flickr/James Willamor

Share of mortgaged homes with at least 35% of income eaten up by household expenses: 15.5%
Share of mortgaged homes with less than 20% of income eaten up by household expenses: 49.2

13. Syracuse, NY

Syracuse NY

Photo: Flickr/David Wilson

Share of mortgaged homes with at least 35% of income eaten up by household expenses: 16.8%
Share of mortgaged homes with less than 20% of income eaten up by household expenses: 50.4%

14. Louisville, KY

Louisville KY

Photo: LouisvilleKY.com

Share of mortgaged homes with at least 35% of income eaten up by household expenses: 17.8%
Share of mortgaged homes with less than 20% of income is eaten up by household expenses: 51.9%

Photo: WelcomeHomeDesMoines.com

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