Homes Within Commuting Distance To School: Only 12% Affordable For Average Teacher
The unsettling reality that the average American teacher can only afford 12% of the homes for sale within commuting distance of their school has taken center stage in a new data study from Redfin. This alarming statistic reveals a decline from 17% in the summer of 2022 and a substantial drop of 30% from pre-pandemic levels in 2019.
The troubling trend extends into the rental market as well. Redfin’s analysis uncovers that the average teacher can only afford 27% of available rental properties within commuting distance of their school. This paints a bleak picture for those educators striving to find affordable housing near their workplaces.
Redfin’s report drew its conclusions from a comprehensive 2022 analysis that examined median teacher salaries in the 50 most populous U.S. metro areas, along with data from more than 70,000 PreK-12 public and private schools in those regions. “Commuting distance” was specifically defined as a 20-minute rush hour drive, a reasonable and generally accepted commuting time for many professionals.
The core of this problem seems to stem from teachers’ wages failing to keep pace with inflation. The study pointed out that the average public school teacher’s salary saw only a 2% rise from 2021 to 2022, landing at $66,745. However, when inflation is factored in, teachers are effectively making $3,644 less than they were just ten years ago, as per data from the National Education Association.
Redfin’s Senior Economist Sheharyar Bokhari elucidated on the pressing matter, stating, “The shortage of affordable homes is exacerbating the shortage of teachers. 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.” This situation creates not only a financial strain for educators but also threatens the stability of the education system as a whole.
Yet, the situation is not uniformly dire across all metro areas. In cities like Detroit, the average teacher can afford a more promising two-thirds (67%) of homes for sale within commuting distance of their school. Cleveland’s teachers find themselves in a somewhat better position as well, being able to afford 59% of commutable homes.
In stark contrast, the situation is particularly grim in certain California cities. Notably, none of the for-sale homes within commuting distance of schools in San Jose or San Diego are affordable to the average teacher. This is a startling reality, especially considering that California boasts the highest teacher salaries in the country.
The Redfin study sheds light on an urgent and multifaceted issue facing American teachers today. Beyond just numbers and percentages, it highlights a societal challenge that could have lasting implications for the education sector and the well-being of those entrusted with nurturing the next generation. The figures stand as a stark reminder of the widening gap between income and housing affordability, calling for thoughtful consideration and actionable solutions.