Because teachers deserve a great home — and a great life, too.
Teachers are used to working hard to help students achieve their dreams. But increasingly, teachers are also having to work harder to reach their own dreams of homeownership, thanks to the rising cost of living in many cities.
Many cities isn’t all cities, though. We found four great places to live where a teacher’s salary can buy a nice home with enough room in their budget to have a good life, too. Even better, we’ve identified the most popularly searched neighborhoods in each city to help teachers find the absolute best places to live.
Median teacher income: $79,150 • Median list price: $279,000
Less than two hours from Los Angeles, Bakersfield is known as an oil and agricultural city, but it also has a long-established aerospace and defense sector. Just fewer than 900,000 people live in and around Bakersfield, so this is no small town. And it’s growing—the county population has gone up 6.4 percent since 2010, slightly better than the rest of California.
That means more schools. The 180,000-student Bakersfield City School District has averaged 360 new students each year over the past 10 years. It’s currently building a new STEM academy and is about to launch a new elementary school.
Where to Live in Bakersfield: Rosedale
The popular Rosedale neighborhood is mostly residential with just a few stores and fast-food operations, but it’s accessible to plenty of things to do. There is a major shopping area nearby, and Downtown Bakersfield is a 15-minute drive away.
“Rosedale provides a great mix of housing opportunities,” explains local real estate agent Robert A. Spasiano of Blue Lion Properties. “It offers homes for sale from the low $200,000 range all the way up.”
Rosedale covers a lot of territory, from dense developments within Bakersfield proper to countryside west of town. “Buyers can live outside the city limits, which provides them with a desirable lifestyle like living on a larger plot of land and the ability to own animals,” explains Spasiano, “while still allowing them to be close to many of the desirable amenities like grocery shopping, schools, parks, and recreation.”
Homes in the 93312 zip code that includes Rosedale come with variety. On the high end, you can find a $1,175,000 four-bedroom on a golf course, but there are plenty on the market between $200,000 and $300,000, too.
Bakersfield could be a smart buyer’s paradise. The metro area was especially hard hit in the housing crisis, and prices there are still well below their peak values. There are plenty of foreclosed properties as well—including at least 89 in the Rosedale area.
Median teacher income: $63,490 • Median list price: $139,900
Nearly 800,000 people live in the Dayton metropolitan area, the fourth largest in Ohio. The city is about an hour’s drive from Downtown Cincinnati or the state capital Columbus. It’s about a 90-minute drive to Indianapolis.
The city grew up as an important manufacturing center, and although manufacturing in the region has declined, the Dayton area still has a major aviation and aerospace sector along with a significant educational presence. There are 54 colleges within an hour’s drive of Dayton.
Where to Live in Dayton: Bellbrook
The most searched zip code by Dayton-area locals is 45305, which centers on the small city of Bellbrook and encompasses the surrounding Sugarcreek Township. “The township has much more potential for growth with more land available,” says Chris Ewing, executive director of the Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Chamber of Commerce. “Most of the business district is in the township.”
Still, the compact town center features such hometown mainstays as Dot’s grocery market and the Blue Berry Cafe (picked as 2017’s best breakfast in the metro area by the Dayton Daily News). There’s a major shopping center and big-box retailers just outside the city limits.
“It’s a great community with a small-town feel,” says local agent Sharon Baker of the Baker, Cook & Stipp Team at Keller-Williams Advantage. “Location is what it’s all about, and Bellbrook-Sugarcreek has great access to so much.”
The available homes in Bellbrook’s zip code range from a $111,000 ranch-style three-bedroom up to a six-bedroom Colonial for nearly a million. And if you’re thinking of building new, Carpenter Creek Estates, a new development in the township, features five-acre lots in the $200,000s.
It’s easy to see why so many real estate searchers gravitate toward the area. “People love the feel of Bellbrook, and the schools are constantly hitting the top marks,” says Baker.
Median teacher income: $66,400 • Median list price: $157,250
Quick geography and history lesson: Syracuse is closer to Toronto than it is to Manhattan. One in a string of mid-sized cities that grew up along the Erie Canal in the 19th Century, Syracuse prospered as an early technology and manufacturing hub and educational center.
Today, the 660,000 people in the Syracuse metro area live within an hour’s drive of 26 colleges and universities—including prestigious campuses such as Cornell University and, of course, Syracuse University (Go Orange!).
It’s no accident, then, that education is a priority in the eight-county Central New York region. Syracuse’s Onondaga County has 18 public school districts, including the 20,000-student Syracuse City School District—where the median teacher’s salary in 2016 was $60,385.
Where to Live in Syracuse: Minoa
“I love Minoa for the people who live there with their great sense of community,” says local agent Melody Gorman. “It’s a sleeper community with not even a traffic light. There are no major roadways running through the village, and it’s an easy commute to highways and major employers.”
The housing stock in Minoa’s zip code includes older Colonial and Cape Cods in the $100,000s and below. New Colonial and ranch-style homes can be found in the Minoa Farms subdivision, where prices are in the low-to-mid-$200,000s.
Warning: Bring a shovel. It snows a lot in Syracuse—124 inches a year.
Median teacher income: $51,430 • Median list price: $185,000
Little Rock thinks big. With a metro area population of 750,000, the capital of Arkansas upends the state’s bottom-ranking stereotypes.
As you’d expect, government is a big job source, but the metro area also includes a sizable aerospace and aviation sector (Lockheed Martin and Dassault Falcon have large operations in the area) and is a major healthcare center. The local economy is also closely tied to the fortunes of the booming northwest corner of the state, where retailing giant Walmart is headquartered.
Where to Live in Little Rock: Lakewood
“The housing market in the metro is extremely fast-paced,” says local real estate agent Debra Stewart. “There is a shortage of nice, available properties this year. This is also driving the new home market.”
The 72116 zip code that encompasses both Lakewood and North Little Rock includes homes at a number of price points. They range from a $1.35 million mansion in a gated community down to $107,000 for a 1,200-square-foot three-bedroom.
Most homes in the area were built from the 1950s into the 1970s. The neighborhood is even a part of cinematic history. The Old Mill, a 1933 re-creation of a 19th-century water mill, was featured in the opening shots of the classic movie, “Gone With the Wind.”
“Lakewood is an extremely nice area to live, says Stewart. “It’s close to shopping and Downtown Little Rock, has a great property owners’ association with sports, and swimming complexes for the kids and has three good size lakes. The issue we see with Lakewood is most buyers would prefer a newer home.”
METHODOLOGY: Wage figures used in this report are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics for May 2017. Teachers here include elementary, middle and secondary school teachers and the median income is calculated by taking the average of these sub-categories. Affordability is defined as spending 31% or less of one’s monthly income on housing. In order to find the share of affordable homes on the market for the median income earner for each occupation, we calculate the maximum amount that each person can allocate towards a mortgage payment based on their wage. We evaluated the listing price of each home effective March 29. We subtracted a 20 percent down payment and calculated the monthly mortgage payment using the prevailing 30-year mortgage rate (4.44 percent) at that time. We also considered HOA fees, mortgage insurance, and property taxes. Finally, we took the number of listed properties that the median income earner for each occupation could afford.