In San Jose and San Diego, no homes for sale near the schools Redfin analyzed  are affordable on the local teacher’s median salary. Just three metros had a share above 50%: Detroit, Cleveland and Pittsburgh.

The average teacher can afford just 12% of homes for sale within commuting distance of their school, down from 17% last summer and 30% in 2019, before the pandemic homebuying boom drove up housing prices.

That’s according to a Redfin analysis of median teacher salaries (2022) in the 50 most populous U.S. metro areas and more than 70,000 PreK-12 public and private schools in those metros. “Commuting distance” means a teacher can drive between home and work within 20 minutes during rush hour. This analysis covers homes for sale on July 31 in 2023, 2022 and 2019, and homes for rent on Aug. 4, 2023. To calculate the share affordable by metro, we averaged the shares affordable for each school within a metro.

The average teacher can afford just over one-quarter (27%) of available rentals within commuting distance of their school.

Teachers are struggling to find affordable housing near the workplace in large part because their wages aren’t keeping pace with inflation. The average U.S. public school teacher salary rose 2% in 2021-2022 from the prior year to $66,745, but when adjusted for inflation, teachers are making $3,644 less than they were a decade ago, according to the National Education Association. Almost half of the 50 most populous metros saw teacher pay decrease in 2022 from a year earlier.

As teacher salaries stagnate, housing prices continue to climb—a confluence of events that has forced many educators to drop out of the field, fueling a dire teacher shortage in some areas. The typical homebuyer’s monthly mortgage payment is up nearly 20% from a year ago as a shortage of homes for sale props up home prices. Rent prices are also inching back toward their record high.

There are an average of 796 homes for sale within commuting distance of U.S. schools, down 24% from 1,047 in 2022 and down 46% from 1,466 in 2019. The housing shortage has intensified over the past year because high mortgage rates are prompting many homeowners to stay put. That has left buyers with limited options—an imbalance of supply and demand that’s keeping prices elevated.

“The shortage of affordable homes is exacerbating the shortage of teachers,” said Redfin Senior Economist Sheharyar Bokhari. “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.”

Some cities are coming up with creative ways to retain teachers, converting old schoolsconvents and historic buildings into affordable housing for educators. And the federal government offers homebuying programs for eligible teachers in the form of grants and down payment assistance. Half of U.S. states have also proposed laws to boost teacher pay this year, though only a handful have succeeded.

The Midwest Is the Most Affordable Place for Teachers Looking to Buy or Rent

In Detroit, the average teacher can afford two-thirds (67%) of homes for sale within commuting distance of their school—the highest share among the 50 most populous metros. Next comes Cleveland, where 59% of commutable homes, on average, are affordable on the median teacher salary. Rounding out the top five are Pittsburgh (53%), Philadelphia (49%) and St. Louis (40%).

The list is similar for rentals. Ranking first is Cleveland, where the typical teacher can afford 82% of available rentals within commuting distance of their school. It’s followed by Pittsburgh (76%), Detroit (73%), Milwaukee (73%) and Philadelphia (62%).

These metros have a couple of things in common: They rank among the most affordable when it comes to home prices, and they don’t rank at the bottom of the list when it comes to teacher salaries. That’s why these areas have relatively high shares of homes affordable for teachers.

In Detroit, for example, the median home sale price is $187,000—lower than any other major metro in the country. Still, Detroit ranks 26th for teacher pay among the 50 biggest metros, with a median salary of $64,221. That’s higher than the typical salary in, say, Miami, where the median home sale price is $515,000 but the typical teacher only makes $60,463.

California Is the Least Affordable Place for Teachers Looking to Buy a home; Florida Is the Least Affordable for Teachers Looking to Rent

In San Jose, CA and San Diego, 0% of for-sale homes within commuting distance of schools, on average, are affordable on the median teacher salary. The following metros all came in at roughly 1%: Austin, TX, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Nashville, Denver, Boston and Oakland, CA.

While California has the highest teacher salaries, it’s also home to some of the most expensive housing in the country. In San Francisco, for example, the median teacher salary is $98,789—the second highest among the top 50 metros (Riverside, CA ranked first, at $100,326). But San Francisco’s median home sale price is $1.5 million—the highest in the nation. Most people earning a $98,789 annual salary can’t afford a $1.5 million home.

Florida dominated the list of places with the smallest shares of rentals affordable for teachers. In Miami, the typical teacher can afford 2% of available rentals within commuting distance of their school—the lowest share among the metros Redfin analyzed. Next came three other Florida metros: Fort Lauderdale (4%), Orlando (4%) and West Palm Beach (6%). Nashville rounded out the bottom five, also at 6%.

Florida ranked 48th in the nation for teacher pay in 2021-2022, with an average salary of $51,230, according to the National Education Association. Orlando has lower teacher pay than any other U.S. metro, with a median salary of $49,561—down 8% from 2021—according to the metro ranking in this report.

Florida has faced one of the fastest housing-cost increases in the nation as scores of remote workers have moved in. Earlier this year, Gov. Ron DeSantis said he would ask lawmakers to set aside $1 billion for teacher pay increases—a $200 million bump from the current year—but also signed a bill restricting teacher unions, which negotiate pay increases. Orlando has seen teacher employment fall 30% since 2019—more than any other major U.S. metro. It’s followed by three expensive California metros: San Jose (-27%), Sacramento (19%) and San Diego (-17%).

Virginia Beach, Providence and Tampa See Biggest Drop in Housing Affordability for Teachers Since 2019

In Virginia Beach, the average teacher can afford 9% of homes for sale within commuting distance of their school, down from 71% in 2019. That 62-percentage-point drop is the largest among the 50 most populous metro areas. It’s followed by Providence, RI (-45 ppts), Tampa (-44 ppts), Jacksonville, FL (-41 ppts) and Las Vegas (-41 ppts).

Virginia Beach is one of 10 metros that has seen teacher pay decline since 2019. The median teacher salary is $59,316, down 18% from $72,148 in 2019.

Pricey coastal metros saw the smallest changes. In San Francisco, an average of 1% of for-sale homes within commuting distance of schools are affordable on the median teacher salary, unchanged from 2019. It’s followed by San Jose, Oakland, New York and Seattle, which all saw their shares decline by fewer than 5 percentage points for the same reason: There were hardly any homes affordable for teachers to begin with, so the numbers don’t have much room to fall.

Teacher Pay Fell Most Last Year in Baltimore and Orlando, Rose Most in St. Louis

Nearly half (21) of the 50 largest metros saw teacher pay decline in 2022 from the year earlier. In Baltimore, the median teacher salary was $63,601 last year, down 15% from $74,476 the prior year—the largest decline among the 50 largest metros. Next comes Orlando (-8%), Virginia Beach (-8%), Minneapolis (-8%) and Pittsburgh (-7%).

The largest pay increase was in St. Louis, where the median teacher salary in 2022 was $59,610, up 10% from the prior year. It was followed by four pricey West Coast metros: Seattle (9%), Oakland (8%), San Francisco (8%) and San Diego (7%). Thousands of teachers in Missouri recently received pay bumps thanks to the Teacher Baseline Salary Grant program. Teacher employment in St. Louis is up 9% from 2019—a bigger jump than any other major metro.

Data Summary: 50 Most Populous Metro Areas


A for-sale listing was considered “affordable” if the monthly mortgage payment was estimated to be no more than 30% of the metro area’s median monthly teacher income (2022). We assumed a 10% down payment, in addition to principal, interest, property taxes and insurance. A rental listing was considered “affordable” if the monthly asking rent was no more than 30% of the metro area’s median monthly teacher income.

To determine the national share of commutable homes for sale and for rent affordable for teachers, we calculated a weighted average of the average shares affordable in the 50 largest metros, based on the number of teachers employed in each metro.

School location data came from GreatSchools. The 20-minute rush hour commute shed (driving only) was determined for each school using the WalkScore Travel Time API. For-sale inventory data came from various multiple listings services. Rental listings were provided to Redfin by Annual teacher wage data came from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’s Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics program.