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bernal heights park II | © hobvias sudoneighm/Flickr

This is How Much You Need to Earn to Buy a Home in San Francisco

Picture of Deanna Morgado
Updated: 5 February 2018

The housing market in San Francisco remains pretty staggering. Mortgage site HSH calculates how much money the average person needs to bring in annually in order to live comfortably in major U.S. cities. With little surprise, they calculated that San Francisco’s number is still growing.

Unfortunately for San Francisco natives and locals, HSH has found that the city by the bay’s housing market remains one of the least attainable in the country. The magic number of how much you’ll need to bring in annually to live comfortably in your San Francisco home?



San Francisco | © Dale Cruse/Flickr

The report covers the larger San Francisco area, which comprises San Francisco, Alameda, Marin, San Mateo, and Contra Costa counties, as well as the San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward census area.

HSH came to this number by calculating a 4.12% mortgage rate with the standard 20% down payment. The $171,330.88/year earning means the ability to “afford the principal, interest, taxes and insurance payments on a median-priced home” in the larger census area, where the median price of a home is $900,000.


San Francisco, CA. 2017 | © Rodrigo Paredes/Flickr

If any of those same homebuyers in the San Francisco metro opted to pay the 10% down payment instead of the standard 20%, the average annual income jumps to a whopping $203,581.18/year.

For once though, San Francisco isn’t the highest in the nation — a ranking it held the last 16 times HSH configured this quarterly report. The city that knocked San Francisco off its high-ranking horse is the neighboring Bay Area city of San Jose. In order to buy and home and live comfortably in San Jose, one needs to earn a staggering $216, 181.25/year.

San Francisco’s current number is up over $30,000 since the 2014 report, which wasn’t so long ago. The same study conducted in 2016 showed that a salary of $144,000 was needed for comfortable SF living. That year’s numbers only increased a few thousand since 2015’s calculations of $141,000. In 2014, it was a much smaller $137,000/year.

If you find that you don’t make an exact $171,330.88/year and have your heart set on being a homeowner in San Francisco, don’t give up that dream. Like many other things, it’s always a good idea to take these types of calculations and studies with a grain of salt.


San Francisco Houses | © Franco Folini/Flickr

However precise and accurate, reports such as this consider median home prices, recommended salaries, and all the different methods of housing cost schedules.