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Right here’s How A lot You Want To Make To Afford a House on the West Coast

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gregobagel / Getty Images

The alluring West Coast magnetizes dreamers craving glittery California cachet or Pacific Northwest natural beauty. But coastal fantasies are often dashed against the harsh realities of the housing market.

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According to financial estimates, you’ll need to earn well into six figures yearly to afford traditional 30-year mortgages in leading Western metro areas today. GOBankingRates will break down the numbers, plus spotlight more affordable locales, easing sticker shock without sacrificing lifestyle.

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In notoriously pricey California, home values currently average nearly $750,000 statewide, according to GOBankingRates data. This translates to required minimum salaries approaching $150,000 to cover estimated $4,150 monthly mortgage payments while keeping overall budgets balanced.

However, there are some hidden gems in the Golden State.

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Located in Central California’s agriculturally abundant San Joaquin Valley, Fresno offers median home prices around $382,000 — about half of state averages nearing $750,000 — according to Zillow data. Its inland location allows residents easy weekend getaways to either the Sierra Nevada mountains or Pacific Coast beaches. Fresno also provides a comfortable four-season climate.


Situated along Interstate 5, midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, Bakersfield proves more affordable housing than its coastal neighbors, with median home values around $383,000, based on Zillow data. This petroleum-industry hub also boasts country music roots (Merle Haggard hails from here) and offers outdoor amenities spanning Sequoia National Forest and Lake Isabella recreational options to the west.


Oregon’s stunning landscapes and lack of sales tax score popularity among retirees and outdoor enthusiasts alike. However, chronic housing undersupply continues driving up average values, which now hover near $500,000. This necessitates Oregonian salaries meeting or exceeding $115,000 to cover $2,800 projected monthly mortgage bills without overextending.

That said, there are places in Oregon that are still reasonable.

Coos Bay

Hugging Oregon’s sublime southern beaches, charming Coos Bay impressively avoids state sales tax while sporting average home prices around $380,000, according to Alex Coffman of Teifke Real Estate. Retirees especially flock here, according to Coffman, who raves, “Coos Bay is one of the prettiest towns on the Oregon Coast — perfectly charming, with a plethora of restaurants and welcoming locals.”


For thrive-minded outdoor adventurers, Bend is situated in a Rocky Mountain ZIP code surrounded by pristine wilderness without forgoing urban amenities. While median list prices approach $743,000, according to Zillow data, its four-season recreational bounty — spanning Mt. Bachelor ski slopes to renowned Deschutes River trout fishing — offers natural bounty rivaling resort towns nationwide, said Martin Boonzaayer of The Trusted HomeBuyer.


In rain-soaked Seattle, sprawled beneath Mount Rainier views, metro home values have soared to $886,000. In Washington state as a whole, home values hover around $578,000, meaning you’ll have to pull down a $125,000 salary to comfortably buy a home. This translates to $3,275 a month for the mortgage, assuming a traditional 20% down payment.

However, you can still find some deals in the Evergreen State.


Eastern Washington oasis Spokane charms with stunning waterfalls, dozens of jogging trails threading lush parks and the Gonzaga University campus. Median home values clock in around $391,000, according to Zillow — saving buyers hundreds of thousands compared to Seattle. However, you do give up living on Puget Sound for the discount.


Vancouver’s positioning along the mighty Columbia River facing Portland delivers small-city vibes without big-city sticker shock, evidenced by median sale prices around $508,000, based on Zillow data. Situated in Washington near the Oregon border, Vancouver also benefits from the lack of state income tax, stretching take-home pay further for middle-class residents.

Takeaway: Weigh Tradeoffs

Ultimately, West Coast life both dazzles and dismays when it comes to budgetary prospects for prospective homeowners. While marquee coastal cities equate to magnetism for millions, their housing affordability sorely lacks. Yet by creatively widening your geographical lens to include up-and-coming second cities and bedroom communities, you gain a reasonable shot at planting roots out West without requiring tech executive-level salaries.

The key is honestly weighing lifestyle priorities — cultural amenities, weather preferences and commuting thresholds — when plotting your prospects. While glamorous addresses carry caché, more obscure outskirts help ground costs for overextended middle earners dreaming of going west. Get creative configuring your wish list for optimal balance between bills and thrills.

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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: Here’s How Much You Need To Make To Afford a Home on the West Coast

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