There’s no disputing that education is highly valued on the Eastside. But if you’re thinking of becoming a teacher there, you should know this: It’s likely you won’t be able to afford a house in the community you serve.
Exceptional public schools are one of the main draws of Eastside living. In survey data that I reported on last week, 40 percent of Eastsiders identified quality schools as one of the top reasons they chose to live where they do — much higher than anywhere else in the region.
There’s no disputing that education is highly valued on the Eastside. But if you’re thinking of becoming a teacher there, you should know this: It’s likely you won’t be able to afford to live in the community you serve.
Based on my calculations, a typical house in Bellevue costs 8.1 times the median pay for a full-time teacher in that city’s school district. It’s not much different in the Issaquah and Lake Washington districts.
How unaffordable is that? A commonly used rule of thumb recommends spending less than four times your total annual income on a house — and ideally, closer to three times.
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The Eastside is vastly different from the rest of Washington. As far as buying a home in their district goes, teachers actually do pretty well in most of the state.
I analyzed teachers’ wages in relation to home values in the state’s 20 largest school districts. Using 2013-2014 individual salary records from the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, I calculated the median total pay for full-time teachers in each district. I compared those wages with the median value for homes located within school-district boundaries, using 2013 U.S. Census Bureau data.
In 14 of the districts, a typical home would be within reach of a full-time teacher earning the district median. In the Yakima school district, a house-hunting teacher would have a field day: Home values are just 2.1 times the median pay.
But a household of two teachers in Issaquah, both earning the district median pay, would be stretched to the limit trying to buy a typical home, even with their combined salaries.
Does it benefit a community to have its teachers living nearby? And is it detrimental when teachers spend more time commuting from distant places, and less time on the kids they teach? Other cities, like San Francisco and Chicago, have started programs to help teachers find affordable housing. It seems to me that these are issues Eastside residents need to start thinking about.