Wake Ed

Not too expensive, but not too cheap for teachers to live in Raleigh

Construction continues on The Dartmouth Apartments, with established North Hills neighborhoods nearby, is some of the six buildings under construction on the 113 acres at North Hills being developed by Kane Realty Corporation on Jan. 28, 2016.
Construction continues on The Dartmouth Apartments, with established North Hills neighborhoods nearby, is some of the six buildings under construction on the 113 acres at North Hills being developed by Kane Realty Corporation on Jan. 28, 2016. clowenst@newsobserver.com

Raleigh is in the middle of the pack nationally for teachers when it comes to finding an affordable place to live.

A new report Thursday from Apartment List ranked Raleigh 22nd out of 50 U.S. cities in terms of affordable housing for teachers. 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 Raleigh need to spend 24 percent of their income to rent a one-bed room apartment. That compares to 27 percent for a fifth-year teacher in Charlotte, which ranked 30th on the list for affordable housing for educators.

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 of a teacher’s income spent to rent an apartment, followed by Fresno, Calif., and Memphis, Tenn., at 15 percent.

Locally, the report found that first-year teachers in Raleigh make $3,420 a month and would have to spend 16 percent of their income to pay for half of a two-bedroom apartment. The percentage rises to 23 percent for 10th-year teachers to rent a two-bedroom apartment.

In Charlotte, Apartment List found that first-year teachers 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.

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 a big 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.

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