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What Are the Best Cities to Buy a Home in Based on Your Occupation?

In the age of renters, buying a home for some is only a distant dream. Most of the younger generation is mired in student loan debt and stuck paying high rents, with slim chances of saving even a penny for a down payment. Homeownership is especially hard for graduates that remain in high-cost cities after completing their studies.

Luckily, if you’re not too attached to the big city life, the right job in the right place can do wonders for your quest to save for a down payment. Many Gen Z-ers intend to buy a home within the next 5 years, and whether this is blind optimism or not, sooner or later the realization will come that saving money is not an easy task.

However, the younger generation says that it is willing to give up a lot for homeownership, including moving away from the large, bustling metros, to smaller cities where homeownership is far more affordable.

Balanced living costs and rents are key when saving money, and a well-paying job can be the cherry on top. Inspired by this, we thought about looking at every profession and how well they pay in every city in the United States and came up with a shortlist of best cities for homeownership based on your occupation. The list—we think—should give fresh graduates, first-time homebuyers and young couples a new perspective when choosing where to work and live.

We started by looking at the median income of each occupation in every city, and how much money you are left with after paying rent and living expenses. After we got the numbers for total savings per month, we added the median home sale price into the mix, and in order to find out the number of months you need to save for a 20% down payment in each city, we divided the down payment amount with the monthly savings. The number of months needed to save for a down payment was rounded up to the nearest number of full months. For a more detailed methodology and a full city list, please scroll down to the end of this article.

Before jumping into the highlights, keep in mind that due to living costs and rent being way lower in smaller cities than in larger ones, saving for a down payment in smaller cities is by default easier—especially when you have several extremely well-paying jobs. Make sure you scroll down to the end of the article to view the full list.

By Working in Law Enforcement or Being a Lawyer in Dayton, OH, You Can Save Enough Money for a Down Payment in Less Than 5 Months

It’s no coincidence that law enforcement pays so well in Dayton—Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is the top employer in the city, with more than 27,000 employees, that includes also the United States Air Force Police. The air force base is located outside the city, but most of its employees are from Dayton. The Wright-Patterson complex is among the largest and most diverse air force bases in the country.

The median monthly income in the city for law enforcement workers, including supervisors, is $8,372, while the median home value equates to $63,900. After paying rent and expenses, one could save up to $4,446 per month, and have $12,780 for a down payment in just 92 days.

In comparison, in Cleveland, you would have to work for 1 year and 10 months in law enforcement to save up for a down payment. You can also save money quickly in Rochester, NY, Chattanooga, TN, and Fort Wayne, IN, by having a job in this field.

For those in the legal industry, Dayton is also the #1 city to save for a down payment. LexisNexis, a company that has one of the largest electronic databases with legal and public-records information, is among the top employers in the city.

By having a legal occupation in Dayton, you’ll earn a median of $7,840 and would need only 4 months’ worth of savings until you have enough for a down payment. Legal work will also get you money for a down payment fast in Pittsburgh, Hartford, CT, and Gainesville, FL.

As an Architect or Engineer, You Can Spare Almost $3K/Month in Syracuse and Have Money Ready for a Down Payment in 7 Months

Syracuse University School of Architecture’s presence, coupled with a large number of architectural firms, plus advanced technologies firm Lockheed Martin’s footprint puts architectural and engineering jobs in Syracuse, NY as a leading employment option. Those working in these industries are the top earners in the city.

The median income for architecture and engineering occupations is $7,381, and after paying rent and monthly living costs, you’ll end up with $2,937 in savings. With the median home value in the city being $90,100, you’ll need about $18,000 to pay an advance on a house—7 months of savings, to be exact.

Working as an architect or engineer in Huntsville, AL, Des Moines, IA, and Knoxville, TN, can also speed up your quest in saving for a down payment.

By Working in the Healthcare Industry, You’ll Need 10 Months’ Worth of Savings in Buffalo, NY

Working in the healthcare industry in Buffalo, NY can be a big plus for your savings, as this industry guarantees you’ll save money the fastest for a down payment. Buffalo’s healthcare scene is thriving, with the city being home to two private healthcare systems that operate a total of eight hospitals and countless clinics, so it comes as no surprise that health diagnosing and treating practitioners and other technical occupations are the #1 best paying jobs here.

With a $6,279 monthly income, you can save enough cash for a home down payment in just 10 months. The median home value in the city is $92,700.

In 15 months, you can also save enough for a down payment in Mobile, AL, Springfield, MO, and Bakersfield, CA.

Since we’re on the subject of medicine, life, physical, and social science occupations are the best paying jobs for saving for a house in Mobile, AL. Due to the city being a regional center for medicine for the central Gulf Coast with more than 850 physicians, these 3 occupations—which are paired as one in Census—are the best option if you’re looking to save for a down payment.

With the median home value being $124,800 and the median income of a life, physical, and social science worker $6,697, you’ll be able to set aside $24,960 for a down payment in 9 months.

Computer, Engineering, and Science Occupations are in the Spotlight in Huntsville, AL

Over in Huntsville, computer, engineering, and science occupations occupy the spotlight, with major companies such as Boeing, Dynetics and Sanmina Corporation calling the city their home. For someone working in these industries, the median income is $7,352, and after paying all monthly expenses, they are left with $3,603.

With the median home value being $170,000 in the city, you’ll need about 10 months to save enough money for a house.

In addition, management occupations are the second-best paying jobs in Huntsville. Being a manager with a $7,093 income could set you up with you enough money in 11 months to effortlessly afford a down payment. Management occupations are the #1 best paying jobs in Little Rock, AR.

Computer and Mathematical Occupations Can Land You Enough Money for a Down Payment in 11 Months in Detroit

From its former industrial glory, Detroit’s economy diversified substantially throughout the years. Ford and GM are still major employers in the city, but so are financial firm Rock Ventures—17,000 employees—and information technology firm DXC.

Having a computer and mathematical occupation in Detroit can seriously pay off, as the median income for these jobs is $5,420. With the median home value being very low in the city, in just 11 months, one is able to save enough money for a down payment for a $50,200 house.

Take a look at the scrollable table below to see the full list. Feel free to use the search bar for your research.


Methodology

The first step in this study was looking at the revenue numbers for each profession in every city, data that was extracted from the U.S. Census.

Monthly income was extracted from the Census for each city and rent data was provided by RENT Café. Monthly living costs were calculated by multiplying the U.S. national living cost—calculated by the Department of Labor—with the NUMBEO cost of living index.

Monthly savings were calculated by subtracting living costs and rent from median monthly income.

The median home value has been aggregated by Census. The down payment is 20% of the home value.

Based on Monthly income, monthly living costs and monthly rent, we calculated the monthly savings amount. In order to calculate the number of months one would need save for a home down payment, we divided the down payment amount with the monthly savings amount. The number of months needed to save for a down payment was rounded up to the nearest number of full months.

Job titles/occupations were extracted from Census and are italicized in the text.

Robert Demeter

Robert Demeter

Robert is a copywriter at CommercialCafe and brings 3+ years of experience in commercial real estate. He previously worked as a copywriter at PropertyShark, as a senior associate editor at Commercial Property Executive and Multi-Housing News, and also wrote monthly market reports at Yardi Matrix.