Here’s which jobs pay workers enough to buy a SLO County home — and the jobs that don’t

Everyone knows how difficult it can be to purchase a home in San Luis Obispo County — so who exactly can afford to buy one?

The county’s median home price hit $640,000 in May — a new record for that month, according to the California Association of Realtors (CAR).

The quarterly median price, released in May, was $602,000. Homebuyers would need a minimum annual salary of $126,680, which would allow them to make monthly payments of $3,170, including taxes and insurance, according to a CAR analysis.

Market analysts typically use the median home price, meaning half of buyers paid more for their houses and half of buyers paid less.

The Tribune used the county’s quarterly median home price and California Employment Development Department data to determine which jobs would yield the minimum salary needed to buy a $602,000 house.

The average annual salaries were determined using 105,100 incomes reported to the state every quarter. Some occupations don’t report employment numbers, depending on the size of the workforce and other factors.

The salaries are averaged, so there are likely employees working in the industries described who earn more or less money.

It’s obviously easier to purchase a home with two incomes, so The Tribune’s analysis includes household incomes — assuming there are two equivalent wage earners who are combining their salaries.

Which workers can afford SLO County homes?

San Luis Obispo County’s median household income is $67,175, according to U.S. Census Bureau data gathered from 2013 to 2017.

About 76% of county workers can’t afford a $602,000 house, according to state employment data.

This is reflected in the county’s biggest industries — including food service, retail sales and personal care — which pay employees $25,000 to $31,000 per year.

Those salaries, even combined, don’t come anywhere close to the $126,000 needed for a median-priced home.

Homeownership is narrowly in reach for the nearly 24% of workers who can afford a $602,000 house with the help of an equivalent wage earner.

For example, some high school teachers buying a house with an additional income would fit in this category, along with some people who teach at Cal Poly and Cuesta College.

Accountants, civil engineers and correctional officers could also buy a $602,000 house with the help of an additional salary.

Only about 1.5% of county workers earn enough money to be able to buy a house with just one salary.

Pharmacists, psychiatrists and architectural or engineering managers all earn enough money to buy houses without another income.

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Lindsey Holden writes about housing, North County communities and everything in between for The Tribune in San Luis Obispo. She became a staff writer in 2016 after working for the Rockford Register Star in Illinois. Lindsey is a native Californian raised in the Midwest and earned degrees from DePaul and Northwestern universities.
Kaytlyn Leslie writes about business and development for The San Luis Obispo Tribune. Hailing from Nipomo, she also covers city governments and happenings in the South County region, including Arroyo Grande, Pismo Beach and Grover Beach. She joined The Tribune in 2013 after graduating from Cal Poly with her journalism degree.