A teacher paycheck won’t go as far in Charlotte as Raleigh, according to a new report that ranks Charlotte 30th among 50 U.S. cities for affordable teacher housing.
The report, released Thursday by Apartment List, ranked Raleigh 22nd. The website compared teacher salaries with apartment rents to see whether educators could spend less than 30 percent of their income to rent an apartment.
The report found that fifth-year teachers in Charlotte needed to spend 27 percent of their income to rent an average one-bedroom apartment, compared with 24 percent in Raleigh.
Apartment List found that cities along the coasts were the least affordable for teachers. The most unaffordable were San Francisco at 69 percent of a teacher’s income spent to rent an apartment, followed by 68 percent in New York City and 54 percent in Seattle.
The three most affordable cities on the list were Wichita, Kan., at 14 percent, followed by Fresno, Calif., and Memphis, Tenn., at 15 percent.
Locally, the report found that first-year teachers in Charlotte make $3,354 per month and would have to spend 18 percent of their income to pay for half of a two-bedroom apartment. The percentage rises to 28 percent for 10th-year teachers, who would be more likely to have a family, to pay for the whole two-bedroom place.
Teacher pay in North Carolina, which is primarily funded by the state, has been rising in recent years. In December, the average teacher was on track to make $49,837 this school year, up from $47,941 the previous year.
In the 2015-16 school year, North Carolina ranked 41st in the country for teacher pay, according to the National Education Association, which used a slightly different figure ($47,985) from the one the state Department of Public Instruction provided for the same year.
The NEA hasn’t released its data for 2016-17 yet, so it’s unclear where North Carolina will rank after this nearly $2,000 average raise.
It’s also unclear what the state’s average teacher pay might be at the end of the school year, since the December numbers only reflected the first semester.
Even with the pay raises, finding affordable housing isn’t easy for teachers.
The Durham school board recently gave thumbs up to a State Employees’ Credit Union proposal to build housing for teachers on the former Lowe’s Grove Elementary School site in southern Durham near Research Triangle Park.
In Charlotte, city leaders have long identified affordable housing for people on modest incomes as a major challenge. Few developers are willing to sacrifice the higher rents and home prices the market will bear.