Teachers across California, especially those in coastal areas and at the bottom of the salary scale, are being shut out of affordable housing. First year teachers could not afford to rent a modest one bedroom apartment in nearly 40 percent of the 680 districts that reported salary data. The situation is most severe for teachers starting their careers in coastal areas. Nowhere is the gap between teacher pay and housing costs wider than in the Bay Area. Teachers earning an average salary in nearly 90 percent of the districts in the region did not earn enough to rent an affordable two-bedroom apartment.

An EdSource analysis of teacher salaries and rents throughout California shows why many teachers are struggling just to pay the rent. Teachers in rural areas or inland areas fare better, but many of those areas have a shortage of rental housing, compounding the difficulty rural districts face in attracting enough teachers.

EdSource’s analysis used fair market rents calculated by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and teacher salaries as reported by school districts on the J-90 form to the California Department of Education. The rent estimates used in this analysis are considered conservative, especially in core urban areas, because HUD makes use of large metro regions that flatten out variations between neighborhoods and cities.

Affordability of one-bedroom units for beginning teachers

To illustrate the scenario facing teachers just beginning their careers, our first map shows the affordability for a one-bedroom apartment at the low end of the teacher salary scale. The rents in the Bay Area and Los Angeles regions are unaffordable because they require more than 30 percent of a beginning teacher’s income which is the federal standard for affordability. While teachers at the lowest end of the salary scale fare better in inland and rural California, rural areas on the coast such as those near Monterey and San Diego are among the least affordable.

Visit our teacher housing affordability app to see teacher salary scales and detailed estimated percentages of housing costs for the 680 school districts in California that reported salary data.

Map Two: Affordability of two-bedroom units for teachers with an average salary

Our second map illustrates the rental landscape for teachers seeking a two-bedroom apartment on an average salary. This map shows more affordable areas for these more experienced teachers, but with stark contrasts between California’s two urban megaregions, with the Bay Area being largely unaffordable, while Los Angeles is more affordable.

Map Three: Affordability of three-bedroom units for experienced teachers

Our third map considers teachers seeking a three-bedroom unit. In more than a quarter of the school districts that reported salary data, the highest paid teachers could not afford to rent a three-bedroom house or apartment. This is more likely to affect experienced teachers defined by the California Department of Education as teachers with a bachelor’s degree, ten years of experience, and sixty continuing education credits. In this scenario it’s clear that limitations on apartment or home size are the norm in virtually all of coastal California, and obtaining an apartment with extra rooms poses a challenge for even higher paid experienced teachers in many urban areas.

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  1. George 5 months ago5 months ago

    Schools don’t traditionally located near transit so this makes for a crushing commute by auto for teachers being pushed out to more ‘affordable’ areas. So no matter if such housing is located near transit services.

  2. Michele 5 months ago5 months ago

    This isn’t just teachers, this is most working class people. And if you are lower income working class (secretary, custodian, bus driver, account clerk, etc), it is going to be even tougher to find affordable housing. Very few people can afford to live here on a single income.

  3. Deborah A James 5 months ago5 months ago

    The state is self destructing

  4. Tim Morgan 5 months ago5 months ago

    Nobody wants to bring back the unmarried, childless school marm, of course. But for some teachers, the Vallejo area may provide good housing deals. Federal law permits a degree of transit subsidy; perhaps even a better price for, e.g., the Vallejo-SF ferry, would make the Vallejo area an option.

  5. Bob Grant 5 months ago5 months ago

    Availability of housing is also a factor. My area might be somewhat affordable, but there is no inventory.