You can afford to buy a home in these big cities

The ranking is based on median home prices from Zillow’s most recent data. Monthly mortgage payments were calculated assuming a 20 percent down payment and the current average mortgage rate for the state (all roughly around 4.3 percent).

But finding such an affordable place to live often comes with a catch.

All of the cities on the list benefit from low housing costs, in part because of slow economic growth and low wages, said Alex Solonin, a data researcher at GoBankingRates.

In the former manufacturing hub of Cleveland, for example, where the price of single-family house is just $61,700, the average median salary is now $51,860, according to PayScale data.

Other cities, like New York and San Francisco, have high living expenses, but they also have higher wages and more jobs, Solonin said.

In San Francisco, the cost of living is 80 percent higher than the national average but the median salary is also much greater: $85,844, according to PayScale.

Still, owning a home in San Francisco can really break the bank. In fact, the average mortgage repayment in San Francisco eats up around 61.5 percent of the city’s median household income, according to separate data by on mortgage-to-income ratios, a common measure of housing affordability.

In Cleveland, the mortgage-to-income ratio is a mere 8.5 percent.

If you’re figuring out how much home you can afford, one rule of thumb is to make sure you don’t spend more than 28 percent of your gross income on housing in any given month.

The more homebuyers stretch, the more house-poor they become (and that’s without taking into account all of the unexpected expenses of home ownership).

More from Personal Finance:
This is how long $1 million in retirement really lasts
How student loans make home ownership a pipe dream
10 states where student loan debt is a big problem

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