Education

SLO County teachers get paid less — and pay way more for housing — than those in Valley

San Luis Obispo County teachers earn less money and pay far more for housing than their counterparts working only a few hours away in the San Joaquin Valley.

And those who want to buy a home here may wind up spending more than half of their salaries on their mortgage payments to buy a home whose median price tops $600,000 versus the $200,000s in the Valley.

This disparity comes as California suffers through a persistent teacher shortage.

One reason: As home prices rise, teachers in California struggle to afford to live in many of the areas where they work. Many workers in other professions — public and private — face similar problems living in the state’s high-cost areas.

In some California communities, the annual mortgage payments on a typical home equals teachers’ average yearly salary. In many of those same places, typical rent payments each year are equivalent to half of teachers’ average pay.

Many financial planners recommend that individuals spend no more than 30 percent of their total income on housing.

In San Mateo County, for example, the median home value is about $1.35 million, according to real estate tracking firm Zillow.com.

With 20 percent down on a 30-year mortgage, monthly payments on that home would be around $6,900, or about $82,000 a year, including taxes and insurance. The average teacher salary in San Mateo County is $86,000, and that’s before taxes are deducted.

In 15 California counties, all of them along or near the coast, mortgage payments on a typical home would consume more than 45 percent of the average salary for a teacher in the county.

San Luis Obispo County teachers are paid an average of nearly $71,000, according to California Department of Education data.

A median-priced home — meaning half of houses are more expensive and half are cheaper — costs about $612,000, according to Zillow data.

With a typical monthly payment of $3,121 and annual costs of $37,448, teachers earning the average county salary would spend about 53 percent of their earnings on housing.

Renting still a challenge

It doesn’t get much better for teachers choosing to rent.

In San Francisco County, the median rent for a two-bedroom unit is about $4,300 a month, or $51,000 a year, according to Zillow. The average teacher salary in San Francisco is about $73,000.

In four California counties, all of them in the Bay Area, a two-bedroom rental would consume more than 45 percent of those teachers’ average salary.

Renting is slightly easier for San Luis Obispo County teachers, although they would still likely end up putting more than 30 percent of their earnings toward housing.

Countywide, median rent for a two-bedroom apartment is close to $2,200, which would cost $26,340 per year. That would require 37 percent of an average teacher’s salary.

In the San Joaquin Valley, teachers earn more money and housing is far cheaper. Fresno County teachers earn an average salary of about $73,600 and can buy a median-priced home for nearly $250,000.

Median rent for a two-bedroom apartment is about $1,041, so teachers could spend only 17 percent of their salaries on housing if they chose not to buy.

Teachers in Tulare County are in an even better situation. They earn an average of about $76,000 per year and could buy a median-priced home for about $211,000.

A two-bedroom apartment costs just $938 per month, which would take only about 14 percent of a teacher’s salary.

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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.
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