Does the Middle Class Have a Chance in Chicago’s Housing Market?

by Peter Thomas Ricci

The U.S. prides itself for its strong middle class, but how many options does that middle class have for housing in the nation’s largest cities?


Are vintage images of the middle class, such as the above photo, possible in our housing market?

Homeownership has long been a cornerstone of the modern American Dream, the ultimate symbol that you have joined the ranks of the U.S.’ long-admired middle class.

But as anyone in real estate knows, the concept of homeownership – and the incomes and home prices that dictate it – differ wildly across the country, and an interesting new study from Trulia has shown rather starkly just how much they differ.

Comparing the median household income with the median home price in the nation’s largest metropolitan areas, Trulia analyzed what percentage of those homes are affordable to the area’s middle class, with the percentage representing how many homes the typical middle class family could afford with less than 31 percent of their income.

What did Trulia uncover? In short, that the South and Midwest are the most affordable markets by a wide margin (with Chicago’s market garnering particularly high marks), while coastal communities are the least affordable, and by a similarly wide margin.

See our infographic below for an idea of how the costs break down:

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