Compared with 17% last summer and 30% in 2019, the average teacher can afford only 12% of homes for sale and 27% of the available rentals within a commuting distance from their school, according to a new Redfin report.
Based on an analysis of median teacher salaries for 2022 from over 70,000 prekindergarten through 12th grade public and private schools in the 50 most populous metros, the report found that teachers are struggling to find affordable housing near their workplace largely due to wages not keeping pace with inflation. According to the National Education Association, the average U.S. public school teacher salary rose 2% in 2021 to 2022 from the prior year to $66,745, but when adjusted for inflation, teachers are making $3,644 less than they were a decade ago.
Nearly half of the 50 most populous metros saw teacher wages decrease in 2022 compared with 2021, the analysis notes. Coupled with the housing shortage and the typical home buyer’s monthly mortgage payment being up nearly 20% from one year ago, the lack of affordability is forcing some educators to drop out of the field. On average, there are 796 homes for sale within commuting distance of U.S. schools, a decline of 24% from 2022 and 46% from 2019.
“The shortage of affordable homes is exacerbating the shortage of teachers,” says Redfin senior economist Sheharyar Bokhari. “Many teachers who can’t afford to buy a house near work are either renting and missing out on the opportunity to build wealth through home equity or leaving education in search of more lucrative careers.”
Regionally, the Midwest proves to be the most affordable place for teachers wanting to buy or rent. The average teacher in Detroit can afford 67% of homes for sale within commuting distance of their school, the highest share among the 50 most populous metros. Detroit is followed by Cleveland with 59% of commutable homes being affordable on the median teacher salary and Pittsburgh (53%), Philadelphia (49%), and St. Louis (40%).
With even higher opportunity, 82% of Cleveland’s available rentals are affordable within commuting distance of the typical teacher’s school. Pittsburgh (76%), Detroit (73%), Milwaukee (73%) and Philadelphia (62%) also post higher shares of affordable rental options. The more affordable rankings of these metros are largely due to low home prices combined with not-the-lowest teacher salaries.
In contrast, none of the for-sale homes within commuting distance of schools are affordable on the median teacher salary in California’s San Jose and San Diego. Although the state’s teachers are paid the most, the homes are some of the most expensive in the country. For example, the median teacher salary in San Francisco is $98,789, the second highest among the top 50 metros, but the city’s median home sale price is $1.5 million, the highest in the nation.
Austin, Texas; Los Angeles; San Francisco; Nashville, Tennessee; Denver; Boston; and Oakland, California, all offer roughly 1% of commutable, affordable for-sale homes for the typical teacher in those areas.
For rentals, Florida was home to the smallest shares. The typical teacher can afford 2% of available rentals within commuting distance of their school in Miami followed by Fort Lauderdale (4%), Orlando (4%), and West Palm Beach (6%), and Nashville (6%).