What I want to know: Who rented this University Heights home? When my wife and I passed by on Aug. 3, 2022, a “For Rent” sign welcomed interest—well, until looking at the asking price of, uh-hum, $5,450 monthly. Granted, by square feet, the place is one of the larger houses in our San Diego neighborhood. But who commits to $65,400—more than an annual salary for many locals—to rent?
Buying is no bargain. One of the, ah, affordable homes for sale nearby lists for $1.1 million. Zillow estimates a monthly mortgage payment, along with insurance and taxes, of $5,797; that’s after 20 percent down. Who can afford to buy? Answer: The fine folks at Visual Capitalist rank San Diego as the nation’s third costliest home market, with a median price of $905,000. Necessary salary: $166,828.
Whoa, really? That works out to gross monthly pay of $13,902.33. Assuming $10,000 take-home after health insurance, social security, taxes, and other fees, about half the salary would go to the estimated $5,000 mortgage (when adding insurance and taxes).
The remaining five grand seems like a good living wage, right? Maybe not. Many San Diego homes are older—in my neighborhood sizable number are a century (or more). As such, add 1 to 3 percent annual upkeep costs, so that’s another $9,050 to $27,150—not including utilities, such as electric, gas, and water, etc.
The point: Buying a home in San Diego is beyond most residents, regardless. Countywide, the median household income is about half Visual Capitalist’s salary requirement. The $82,000 median comes from multiple sources—and none as recently as I would like. Some more recent estimates, which are from commercial entities rather than government census put the figure as high as $97,000, or about $69,000 short.
Don’t be surprised if the next homeless person you meet here earns a good wage—but not good enough to rent or buy a place to live.