GOBankingRates

How Much Home You Can Buy With the Average Income in Every State

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The classic concept of the American dream has long painted a picture of someone who is earning an average wage but still able to buy a little slice of land that they can call home. And, although that idea is still very much alive for many people, it isn’t for some. The simple truth: Your ability to afford a home depends on where you live.

In a recent analysis, GOBankingRates identified the average salary in every state and what that means in terms of how much home you can afford. Looking at the mean income in each state and then examining what that translates to based on the cost of living and the average cost per square foot in that state, the study reveals that the reality of owning a home for an average earner varies from state to state.

Click through to find out how much home you can afford in your state.

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Alabama

  • Average Income: $62,061
  • House Price You Can Afford: $331,000
  • Square Footage That Buys: 3,274 square feet

Alabama’s relatively low average income is counterbalanced by one of the lowest prices per square foot in the country, translating to the second-most house for an average income. That could just be par for the course in Alabama, which is one of the cheapest states to live in the U.S.

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Alaska

  • Average Income: $92,191
  • House Price You Can Afford: $431,000
  • Square Footage That Buys: 2,538 square feet

With an average income just shy of six figures, Alaskans earning the mean amount can expect to afford about 2,500 square feet without stretching their budget. That’s likely a relief for residents of one of the most expensive states in America.

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Arizona

  • Average Income: $70,432
  • House Price You Can Afford: $363,000
  • Square Footage That Buys: 2,353 square feet

If 2,353 square feet doesn’t sound like a lot for over $350,000, just know that the rental market in Arizona isn’t much better: It’s one of the states where buying and renting costs about the same.

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Arkansas

  • Average Income: $58,850
  • House Price You Can Afford: $311,000
  • Square Footage That Buys: 3,132 square feet

Arkansas has the third-lowest average income in the country, but a low cost per square foot also means the average Arkansan can get over 3,000 square feet. That might not be a huge surprise, though, in one of the states where it’s cheaper to buy than rent a home.

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California

  • Average Income: $91,149
  • House Price You Can Afford: $457,000
  • Square Footage That Buys: 1,429 square feet

If you’re trying to imagine what it’s like to earn over $90,000 a year and still not be able to afford more than 1,500 square feet, you clearly haven’t spent much time in California — one of the states known for its expensive homes.

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Colorado

  • Average Income: $84,384
  • House Price You Can Afford: $431,000
  • Square Footage That Buys: 1,780 square feet

Even with one of the higher average incomes, Colorado’s 1,780 square feet puts it among the places where the average income secures the least. Those high costs could be part of why Colorado is one of the states with the biggest real estate bubbles.

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Connecticut

  • Average Income: $102,616
  • House Price You Can Afford: $440,000
  • Square Footage That Buys: 2,519 square feet

Connecticut is one of just four states where the average income is over $100,000 a year, meaning the average earner can still afford over 2,500 square feet despite a median cost per square foot higher than in most states.

Is Yours on the List? Cities in Danger of a Housing Crisis

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Delaware

  • Average Income: $80,432
  • House Price You Can Afford: $415,000
  • Square Footage That Buys: 2,895 square feet

An average income just over $80,000 a year means the typical Delaware resident can afford just shy of 2,900 square feet. That’s a pretty good value, but high foreclosure rates contribute to Delaware being one of the worst states for first-time homebuyers.

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District of Columbia

  • Average Income: $110,614
  • House Price You Can Afford: $560,000
  • Square Footage That Buys: 1,011 square feet

The nation’s capital is home to the highest average income in the country. The fact that it barely gets you more than 1,000 square feet — the second least in the country — shows just how expensive the city can be.

Click to find out how to decide whether to buy or build a house.

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Florida

  • Average Income: $69,936
  • House Price You Can Afford: $340,000
  • Square Footage That Buys: 2,059 square feet

Florida’s housing market might get you just over 2,000 square feet for an average income in the state, but it’s serving other purposes as well: The Sunshine State is one of the best states for house flippers.

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Georgia

  • Average Income: $71,420
  • House Price You Can Afford: $352,000
  • Square Footage That Buys: 3,027 square feet

An average income of just over $70,000 a year will secure over 3,000 square feet of home in Georgia — just part of what makes it one of the best states for first-time homebuyers.

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Hawaii

  • Average Income: $91,169
  • House Price You Can Afford: $487,000
  • Square Footage That Buys: 959 square feet

No state gives you less for an average income than Hawaii, where you can’t even buy a house with 1,000 square feet — despite the fact that the state has one of the highest average incomes in the country. As such, it might not come as a shock that Hawaii is one of the states where it’s cheaper to rent than buy.

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Idaho

  • Average Income: $64,513
  • House Price You Can Afford: $336,000
  • Square Footage That Buys: 2,108 square feet

Idaho’s low average income and relatively high cost per square foot mean you can only get a little over 2,000 square feet for a typical income level. And, those two issues might also contribute to Idaho being one of the worst states for house flippers.

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Illinois

  • Average Income: $81,865
  • House Price You Can Afford: $360,000
  • Square Footage That Buys: 2,416 square feet

Illinois’ relatively high average income doesn’t get you as much home as you might like, but there’s still some real advantages to the housing market there. It’s among the top 20 most affordable states for millennial homeowners.

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Indiana

  • Average Income: $66,480
  • House Price You Can Afford: $334,000
  • Square Footage That Buys: 3,216 square feet

Hoosiers can still afford a home with plenty of room to move around despite having a lower income. That should come as little surprise as Indiana is one of the places where $300,000 buys you the biggest homes.

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Iowa

  • Average Income: $70,708
  • House Price You Can Afford: $323,000
  • Square Footage That Buys: 2,440 square feet

The 2,440 square feet you can afford on Iowa’s average income isn’t a lot. But, if you’re willing to compromise on the size, you can probably find a space at your price. Iowa is one of the states where you don’t need a high salary to buy a home.

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Kansas

  • Average Income: $71,975
  • House Price You Can Afford: $347,000
  • Square Footage That Buys: 2,915 square feet

Although you can get nearly 3,000 square feet on an average income in Kansas, you should probably be sure you’re interested in a place to live and not an investment: Kansas is one of the states where home values aren’t increasing.

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Kentucky

  • Average Income: $61,757
  • House Price You Can Afford: $318,000
  • Square Footage That Buys: 2,843 square feet

Despite being among the states with the lowest average income, the 2,843 square feet it buys is among the better deals on this list. In fact, the price per square foot in Kentucky is among the five lowest — a big part of why Kentucky is one of the states with affordable mansions.

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Louisiana

  • Average Income: $65,229
  • House Price You Can Afford: $342,000
  • Square Footage That Buys: 2,824 square feet

An average income of $65,000 or so might land you 2,800 square feet in the Bayou State, but it also doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room for the curveballs that life can throw at you. It’s part of why Louisiana is among the states still suffering from the foreclosure crisis.

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Maine

  • Average Income: $67,011
  • House Price You Can Afford: $324,000
  • Square Footage That Buys: 1,912 square feet

Maine is one of just 10 states where the average income doesn’t get you at least 2,000 square feet of home, but it differs from the other states in that group in that the issue has more to do with income than cost. Maine’s cost per square foot of $169.45 is high, but the other nine states are right at or way over $200 per square foot.

Give It a Try: The Best States to Flip Your Home Are in the East, Study Finds

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Maryland

  • Average Income: $100,071
  • House Price You Can Afford: $459,000
  • Square Footage That Buys: 2,477 square feet

Maryland is one of the states with the highest incomes, but a six-figure income still isn’t enough to secure you more than 2,500 square feet in a state where houses cost over $185 per square foot.

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Massachusetts

  • Average Income: $97,295
  • House Price You Can Afford: $480,000
  • Square Footage That Buys: 1,872 square feet

Another state where a very high average income still doesn’t secure a lot of house, Massachusetts is a member of the “under 2,000” club. However, money spent now could come back to you in more ways than just having a place to call home: Massachusetts is among the states where homes are becoming more valuable.

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Michigan

  • Average Income: $68,928
  • House Price You Can Afford: $320,000
  • Square Footage That Buys: 2,461 square feet

At a cost per square foot of just over $130, home prices in Michigan are just below the median for U.S. states, meaning that although less than 2,500 square feet isn’t a lot, it is probably coming at a fair price.

Get a Deal: 30 Cities Where You Can Buy a House for Under $100,000

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Minnesota

  • Average Income: $83,100
  • House Price You Can Afford: $395,000
  • Square Footage That Buys: 2,162 square feet

If 2,162 square feet doesn’t seem like much for $83,100, it might have something to do with the tax burden in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Minnesota is one of the states where you have to make significantly more to take home $100,000.

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Mississippi

  • Average Income: $56,358
  • House Price You Can Afford: $294,000
  • Square Footage That Buys: 3,107 square feet

Mississippi has the lowest average income in the country at $56,358 — part of why this is one of the states where you’re rich earning less than $100,000 — but you can still get over 3,000 square feet of home.

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Missouri

  • Average Income: $67,210
  • House Price You Can Afford: $324,000
  • Square Footage That Buys: 2,837 square feet

Despite the relatively low average income in Missouri, the state is one where the cost per square foot is the lowest. So, it’s still among the states where you can get the most space for an average income.

Time to Move? The Best Cities for Aspiring Millennial Homeowners

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Montana

  • Average Income: $65,401
  • House Price You Can Afford: $334,000
  • Square Footage That Buys: 1,691 square feet

Montana’s price per square foot is high enough to be among the 10 most expensive states in that regard, securing its position among the states where an average income gets the least floor space. That’s something that likely contributes to Montana being one of the states where it takes millennials the longest to buy a home.

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Nebraska

  • Average Income: $71,166
  • House Price You Can Afford: $315,000
  • Square Footage That Buys: 2,307 square feet

Nebraska’s cost per square foot is just below the median for U.S. states. But that’s also true for its average income, resulting in a relatively small place as being what’s affordable for the average Nebraskan.

Dream Big: What a $1 Million Home Looks Like Across America

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Nevada

  • Average Income: $70,855
  • House Price You Can Afford: $357,000
  • Square Footage That Buys: 2,089 square feet

Nevada just clears 2,000 square feet in terms of what’s affordable for the average resident, but it’s worth noting that at least one part of getting a house is made easier in the Silver State: Nevada is one of the cheapest states for homeowners insurance.

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New Hampshire

  • Average Income: $87,900
  • House Price You Can Afford: $373,000
  • Square Footage That Buys: 2,252 square feet

Although it might not be abundantly clear from the $165-plus price per square foot for homes in the Granite State, New Hampshire offers a lot for your money, generally speaking. It’s one of the best states for families to live a richer life.

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New Jersey

  • Average Income: $101,634
  • House Price You Can Afford: $415,000
  • Square Footage That Buys: 2,213 square feet

New Jersey’s average income is the third-highest in the country, but that doesn’t reflect the financial reality for everyone in the state: Newark ranks as the city that’s in the most danger of a housing crisis.

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New Mexico

  • Average Income: $63,057
  • House Price You Can Afford: $342,000
  • Square Footage That Buys: 2,566 square feet

New Mexico has one of the lowest average incomes in the country, so getting over 2,500 square feet for someone earning that much represents something of a victory for the state’s housing market. If that’s making you think the time is right to take the plunge, you can follow these steps to buy a home.

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New York

  • Average Income: $89,397
  • House Price You Can Afford: $390,000
  • Square Footage That Buys: 2,129 square feet

An average income just under $90,000 will barely get you more than 2,000 square feet of home in the Empire State, a sign of just how pricey the housing market can be there. It’s one of the places where many Americans can’t afford a home.

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North Carolina

  • Average Income: $67,367
  • House Price You Can Afford: $333,000
  • Square Footage That Buys: 2,585 square feet

An average income can get you just over 2,500 square feet in the Tarheel State, but you can get a lot more if you’ve got a lot more to spare. Click here to see what a $1 million home looks like in North Carolina.

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Ohio

  • Average Income: $68,341
  • House Price You Can Afford: $306,000
  • Square Footage That Buys: 2,884 square feet

Many of the best cities for first-time homebuyers fall in the upper Midwest, and Ohio is no exception with a price per square foot that’s among the lowest in the country.

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Oklahoma

  • Average Income: $65,458
  • House Price You Can Afford: $329,000
  • Square Footage That Buys: 3,267 square feet

Oklahoma has one of the best values on floor space, with the cost of a typical home representing about $100 per square foot. That’s just part of why Oklahoma is one of the most affordable states to live in.

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Oregon

  • Average Income: $72,013
  • House Price You Can Afford: $355,000
  • Square Footage That Buys: 1,657 square feet

Oregon residents might be struggling by living in one of the states where the cost per square foot is at its highest, while residents have an average income just above that of the median states. So, if you’re planning on buying in the Beaver State, you’ll want to make sure you have the right credit score first.

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Pennsylvania

  • Average Income: $75,235
  • House Price You Can Afford: $377,000
  • Square Footage That Buys: 2,935 square feet

Pennsylvania affords residents earning an average income the chance to buy a home with nearly 3,000 square feet of floor space. So, if you’re looking for an insanely amazing home you can actually afford, this state might be one place to start looking.

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Rhode Island

  • Average Income: $79,024
  • House Price You Can Afford: $359,000
  • Square Footage That Buys: 1,761 square feet

If the relatively small house you can afford on almost $80,000 a year is making you think the rental market is the way to go in Rhode Island, think again. It’s one of the states where you need a high salary to afford rent.

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South Carolina

  • Average Income: $64,115
  • House Price You Can Afford: $334,000
  • Square Footage That Buys: 2,631 square feet

Although the average income in South Carolina is relatively low, it does still afford you a home with over 2,500 square feet.

Buying Another House? The Best Places in Every State to Get a Vacation Home

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South Dakota

  • Average Income: $68,419
  • House Price You Can Afford: $333,000
  • Square Footage That Buys: 2,023 square feet

South Dakota real estate isn’t especially expensive based on its median price per square foot, but the relatively low average income means residents only get about 2,000 square feet. So if you’re shopping for a house there, remember these homebuying facts to ensure you’re getting the most for your money.

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Tennessee

  • Average Income: $65,368
  • House Price You Can Afford: $343,000
  • Square Footage That Buys: 2,701 square feet

The average income for Tennessee residents is lower than in most states, but residents might be doing better than what that number indicates: It’s one of the states where you keep more of your income thanks to lower taxes.

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Texas

  • Average Income: $77,585
  • House Price You Can Afford: $346,000
  • Square Footage That Buys: 2,769 square feet

If you’re living in Texas and planning on buying your first home, you should put some thought into where you’re looking. Although San Antonio, Austin and El Paso are all among the worst cities for first-time homebuyers, McAllen ranks among the best.

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Utah

  • Average Income: $79,414
  • House Price You Can Afford: $406,000
  • Square Footage That Buys: 2,182 square feet

Utah’s $186.05 cost per square foot means that earning just under $80,000 still means you can barely afford over 2,000 square feet of home. So, shop smart in Utah, and read these insider tips for buying a house.

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Vermont

  • Average Income: $73,016
  • House Price You Can Afford: $337,000
  • Square Footage That Buys: 2,256 square feet

Vermont’s cost per square foot is about $150, putting it right at the median for U.S. states. So, for an average income of $73,016, you’re looking at about 2,250 square feet of house.

Decide: Pros and Cons of Buying a Foreclosed House

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Virginia

  • Average Income: $90,881
  • House Price You Can Afford: $439,000
  • Square Footage That Buys: 2,764 square feet

Virginia’s high average income translates to a fairly roomy home that’s still affordable. But, if you’re one of the many Virginians earning less than that average, it might be nice to know that it’s a state where you can buy a house with terrible credit.

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Washington

  • Average Income: $84,022
  • House Price You Can Afford: $413,000
  • Square Footage That Buys: 1,826 square feet

The fact that an average income of almost $85,000 a year still doesn’t translate to more than 2,000 square feet of home might be depressing to some. But, if you’re thinking that maybe the solution is to skip the whole buying process and just build your own home, be aware that Washington’s also one of the most expensive states to build a home in.

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West Virginia

  • Average Income: $57,779
  • House Price You Can Afford: $310,000
  • Square Footage That Buys: 3,300 square feet

Of the seven states where an average income grabs you more than 3,000 feet of living space, four are among the states with the five lowest average incomes. So, it should come as little surprise that West Virginia — the state with the second-lowest average income — is also among the states where you can afford rent on a low salary.

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Wisconsin

  • Average Income: $71,459
  • House Price You Can Afford: $318,000
  • Square Footage That Buys: 2,282 square feet

Wisconsin’s 2,282 square feet of affordable house on the average income isn’t as bad as in many other states. But, it’s still less than what’s available in most states.

Click to Find Out: How Long Does it Take to Buy a House?

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Wyoming

  • Average Income: $74,667
  • House Price You Can Afford: $389,000
  • Square Footage That Buys: 2,339 square feet

The average income in Wyoming can afford a home that costs $389,000, which — given that the median list price is $250,000 a year — isn’t half-bad.

If you’re considering your options, find out 15 places in America where homes are still affordable.

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How Much Home You Can Buy on an Average Income

Four of the five states with the lowest average income were still among the top 10 states in terms of how much space that money could buy, showing that living around people with more money appears to result in much pricier homes. High-income states like California, Hawaii, Massachusetts and Washington, D.C., were among the 10 states where an average income gets you the least.

One clear takeaway from this study would be that having neighbors who are earning more often means living in a place where your housing dollar buys less.

Click through to read more about the salary you need to afford the average home in your state.

More on Investing in Real Estate

Methodology: GOBankingRates used the mean household income in each state, sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau, to serve as the average income. The down payment amount, $56,541, was determined by calculating a 20 percent down payment for the median home price in each state and calculating the average of all states plus D.C. Using average incomes and the down payment amount, GOBankingRates utilized SmartAsset’s home affordability tool to determine the value of a home that an average person could buy. Median home price per square foot was sourced from Zillow’s June index in order to determine the size of the home that an average earner could afford.