How Many Hours Americans Need To Work To Pay Their Mortgage

Tyler Durden's picture

When it comes to the cost of living in cities, a general rule of thumb is that housing prices are much higher in the country’s economic and population hubs, especially in the cities along the coasts.

As Visual Capitalist's Jeff Desjardins notes, particularly in recent years, prices have been pushed sky-high in places like New York City or San Francisco through a combination of limited supply of new homes, increasing demand, shifting demographics, and government regulations.


Today’s visualization from applies a common denominator to compare 97 of the biggest cities in the United States. Using a measure of median household income against the average mortgage payment in each city, we get a gauge of how many hours must be worked each month just to pay down the house.

The visualization uses data from the U.S. Census for household income and Zillow for median home listing price, while calculating mortgage payments based on a standard 30-year term.

Courtesy of: Visual Capitalist


Using the above method to compare the amount of hours it takes to pay down a monthly mortgage, we see some interesting contrasts in the country.

Here are the five most expensive cities in the United States for housing:

With about 170 hours in a normal work month, the average people in these cities are spending 50% or more of their income just to pay down their mortgages. It’s worst in New York City and Los Angeles, where at least 65% of income is going towards housing.

These cities stand in stark contrast to the five cheapest cities based on hours of work needed:

In a city like Memphis, TN it takes only 18.4 hours of work a month to pay down the average mortgage. That’s equal to only about 10% of monthly household income.


Interestingly, even though coastal hubs have high prices relative to the cities in the middle of the country, they differ quite widely against each other. This discrepancy does not necessarily show in terms of ranking, but more in terms of the actual hours of work needed.

Washington, D.C., for example, requires less than half the hours of work to pay down a mortgage than Los Angeles or New York City. Meanwhile, a popular west coast hub like Seattle only needs 72.8 hours in comparison to New York’s 113.5 hours.

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YourAverageJoe's picture

I liked your old avatar Mr Pink.

I hope you'll consider bringing it back.

Mr Pink's picture

I had to change it when Buschemi came out as another Hollywood commie

Golden Showers's picture

Well I DO NOT understand.

Mr. Pink:

You are Mr. Pink because you are Mr. Pink. You're not orange is the new pink, you're not like a virgin, you're Mr. Pink.

Joe, you would believe any fucking thing anyone makes up becaue you are AverageJoe.

Average Joe looks like that mouth breather Napoleon Dynamite. Mr Pink looks like he shit his pants.

Mr. Pink is a fictional character portrayed by a man 20 some years ago. An archetype. Not to be confused with the presenter.

So you're telling me you are a bitch because the person who portrayed Mr. Pink 20 years odd ago is... "because". That word "because" is so intoxicating. It avoids the fact that MR. PINK is MR. PINK. Do you need a visual aid?

Extra Credit:

Fizzy Head's picture
Origin late Middle English: from Old French, literally ‘dead pledge,’ from mort (from Latin mortuus ‘dead’) + gage ‘pledge.’
jughead's picture

that thingy that people do to indenture themselves for the essentials because they've blown their cash on bullshit. 

Aerows's picture

Proximity to financial and political hubs with adequate security - who knew people would like to live in such places?

Refuse-Resist's picture

Yes. That's where all the (((stolen))) money goes, err I mean tax revenues.

bcking's picture

All I know is California sucks hard. It's a communist shithole and not worth the money. Best thing about California is LEAVING. Fuck you, Liberals for ruining a once-great state. 

Number 156's picture

I left California in 2014 for Iowa.

Now I own a house that's 5 times bigger than the shabby place I rented in Los Angeles and my mortgage is 3/4 of what I was paying per month.
It takes me 10 minutes to get to work, and I never get stuck in traffic.
My Car insurance is 1/4 what I was paying, and I have twice the coverage,
and nobody is scheming to ban gasoline automobiles or arrest me for using the wrong gender pronoun. 

I'm never going back to that freaking gulag.. ever.

YourAverageJoe's picture

I left when I was a kid in 1964 when my Dad went to work for Robertshaw Controls doing control work at the new Manned Spacecraft Center.

BarkingCat's picture

I will be driving from Seattle to Arizona soon.

I will not be going though Kalifornia even though, it would be a straight shot down I5 until almost LA.

Fuel prices are much less in Oregon, Idaho and Nevada as is everything else.

Shockwave's picture

I live north of seattle. Work at boeing. I hate it, absolutely hate it, but boeing pays so much that I cant bring myself to flee.

Golden Showers's picture

Oh yeah, well I once spent a night in a shitty hotel in Edmons, Washington and when we woke up the whole door was covered in plastic.

Had to call the front desk and they forgot we were staying in that room. I had flashbacks of the movie ET and haven't been the same since.

We were really happy about this and fondly remember Rick Steeves travels and that he was the acting head of NORML at the time.

Those were good days.

The only thing cool about Seattle is the Sounder.

I'd rather suck dicks than work for Boeing and bitch about it. The pacific northwest is actually really amazing.

Try working for motorola and living in some Phonenix shit hole suburb 40 miles away from work ten years ago. At least you have job security and a big fat tit to suck on.

mkkby's picture

Rick Steves is a queen. Guess you meant it when you said you'd rather suck dicks.

D-plorable's picture

Im on the same boat. I work for the electric utility in Los Angeles. The day I can retire I'm heading for the hills, my stuff is already packed 

new game's picture

all this shit you describe is the result of "big city syndrome". too many peices of shit grouped too close together.

simple shit maynard.

sk0r9y0s's picture

Ya..California isnt worth shit..except that its one of the biggest economies IN THE WORLD

ZD1's picture

Commiefornia has ONE THIRD of the US welfare cases, one of the highest poverty rates in the nation, and MILLIONS of illegals!

Kobe Beef's picture

Reconquista Accomplished. 

Now it's time for American-Mexican War II.

Just like Civil War II, the Wheel of History has come full circle. 

MillionDollarGold's picture

So much for socialism fixing the Gini Coefficient.  You have the incredibly rich silicon valley people, and the bottom tier of "have nots" growing.  Sounds like a recipe for success...

DemandSider's picture

The more insatiable California government becomes, the more depleted aquifers California farmers need to export, the more fecund immigrant labor it needs, the more water it needs. Where's the water coming from for more growth?

Blue Steel 309's picture

We are tied here for now, but I hope we make it out before it blows up.

Mikeyyy's picture

As a current and native Californian, I applaud your leaving.  I only wish you had taken about 10 million other idiots with you.

PitBullsRule's picture

Its kind of a national passtime to hate California.  

Its a big world, go someplace you like and STFU.

Herodotus's picture

Saturday night in Toledo, Ohio is like being nowhere at all.

rent slave's picture

I spent a Saturday Night there in 2003,driving back from East Lansing before returning to NJ.

wisehiney's picture

Blame it on someone, anyone.

I would never blaspheme, 

But I have been known to be irreverant.

Note the small g. in this old high school cheer.

Created by mighty underdog champions.


"Shit, goddamn

Get off your ass and jam!"


wisehiney's picture

Or even better, as my beloved jackass cousin would say at the end of the tobacco row,

"Off your ass,

   And on your feet!

       Outta the shade,

             And into the heat!"


















1Outta the shade,

  Into the heat!

YourAverageJoe's picture

It would have been nice to see the info on Houston, the 4th largest city, and a seaport at that!

Just to see where our shithole stands against the other shitholes listed.

Mikeyyy's picture

Ha!  It's a port alright .  A port-a-let!

Kobe Beef's picture

Drive the Diversity into the sea.

America is a White Country.






Hulk's picture

30 years to pay down a MORT-gage, its theft...

XBroker1's picture

There is no law requiring you to take the entire 30 years to pay it off or to even borrow in the first place.

Sparehead's picture

Yup, though with rates as low as they have been, as long as they're not being stupid (possibly a tall order), I can see a lot of people being better off taking the 30 and putting some money to work.

BunkerZee's picture

Uh, you know you can pay it off early, right?

pawn's picture

Buy LoW sell High (as in profit) my daddy taught me. No paper.

who-be-u-be's picture

Thanks to obama, 0 hours to pay motgage. Section 8 biaches!!

sk0r9y0s's picture



..or #BlameWBush and #SlickWilly for deregulating?!

JRobby's picture

All part of the big elite plan. The banksters leading the show.

Blue Steel 309's picture

Banks get to lend us money they don't have so that we can overpay for houses and they get to collect all the profit. Well... at least their risk is socialized.

Our civilization deserves to die.

sk0r9y0s's picture

#BlameCapitalism for that one i guess.


We all know the fed isn't a purely public entity yes?!

steve2241's picture

The United States is awash in bullshit statistics.  Remember, this is data that originates from the entity that gives you the Consumer Price Index, the U.S. Government.