For those in the educational field, advancing to a leadership position is an important step toward achieving long-term stability. Part of this picture for many principals, superintendents, and other school administrators is home ownership.
Still, as the housing market in the United States becomes more and more expensive, it can feel further out of reach of many education professionals, even those who have high-ranking roles within their institutions. This phenomenon is not exclusive to those who work in education, but one professionals in every industry are facing. The costs associated with buying a house are increasing at a breakneck pace in cities all over the country, and many Americans are struggling to achieve the financial security needed to become a homeowner.
Educational leaders are better disposed than most within their field to make the dream of homeownership a reality, as these positions tend to earn top salaries within their organizations.
That said, even on an educational leadership salary, buying a house in this day and age requires careful planning and research. One must reflect deeply on their priorities and be ready to make significant compromises. Among the most important factors one must consider is location, which greatly determines the cost of a home as well as the additional associated expenses. This in turn means planning one’s career path in accordance with where you hope to buy a home.
If you are an educational leader – be it a principal, vice principal, superintendent, or another form of education administrator – this article provides a state-by-state index of educational leadership salaries alongside average home values to help you assess the best states for educational leadership careers. It also includes a guide to the key factors educational leaders should consider as they pursue homeownership.
Though it can be daunting, for educational leaders, the possibility of home ownership is within reach. To learn where and how to realize this goal, read on.
Buying a Home in 2023: The Lay of the Land
There’s no reason to mince words about it: buying a house in the United States has become far more difficult than it was for previous generations. There are numerous reasons for this, from an influx of new residents to cities all over the country to a rise in real estate speculation that has greatly inflated home buying costs.
While owning a home was once an attainable hallmark of the American middle class, it has unfortunately become a far more rarified possibility.
According to Zillow, the average American home value in 2023 is $348,853, having increased by 1.2% nationwide in the past year. Following more than a decade of growth, this has put homes out of reach of many American citizens, even those who earn salaries that were previously considered desirable. Further, as more Americans find themselves with rising cost of living expenses, such as student loan debt, homeownership falls ever further out of reach.
Buying a House on an Educational Leader’s Salary
hose who become educational leaders have invested in their careers in the long term, which often means they have goals of sustained financial stability. A key part of this vision is often homeownership, both because it will strengthen your roots in the place where you are working and because it is one of the most trusted investments you can make.
As you will see in the rankings below, educational leaders tend to earn impressive salaries, which make homeownership a more feasible possibility than it is for many in other professions.
However, the rising value of homes in states across the country means that even those earning six figure incomes will need to be judicious in their decisions and plan in the long term if they would like to realize this dream.
One advantage of having a job as an educational leader is that it is reasonable to expect you will hold this position for a long time. Schools greatly prefer to employ principals, vice principals, and other administrative roles for the long term, as this is beneficial to student and faculty experiences as well as overall campus culture. This means you have job security that can make the recurring costs associated with buying a home more approachable. After all, as a homeowner you will be responsible for more than just your down payment; the most common mortgages have a thirty year term.
The Unique Needs of Educational Leaders When Buying a Home
If you ask the different homeowners you know for advice as you’re planning your first purchase, you’re likely to hear a wide range of tips and tricks. It’s a great idea to take notes from those who have been through the often trying process of buying a house. That said, different homeowners have very different needs, so it’s important to be aware of your own unique lifestyle preferences and career path as you survey your real estate options.
One of the very most important factors for an educational leader looking to enter the real estate market is location. In short, you are likely to want a house that is in reasonable proximity to your school. Since you are likely to hold your position for a long time, this should not seem like too arbitrary of a concern. After all, principals and other school administrators spend tons of time on their campus, holding longer hours than most other school employees. They are also frequently called upon for last-minute emergencies that may require them to get to campus quickly. If you intend to spend a decade or more working at the same institution, you won’t want a lengthy commute to and from your workplace.
Superintendents, meanwhile, are typically responsible for a whole network of schools, which typically is organized by district. This means it is important to choose a home in a location that is centrally located amid the many schools you are responsible for, offering easy access to all of them. Beyond making your own life easier, by buying a home in a convenient location, you will be asserting your own commitment to your work as a school administrator.
It is also worth thinking through how productive you would like your home space to be. Some educational leaders prefer to spend most of their working time on campus, close to the heart of the action. Others like to maintain an office space from home when they need to focus on their duties without interruption. Whatever your approach, have this in mind as you look at prospective homes, as you will be making a major commitment to whatever lifestyle you choose.
Building your Financial Literacy Before Buying a Home
In order to make responsible decisions as a homeowner, it is imperative that you build your real estate literacy. Though many focus primarily on the initial costs of buying a home when planning a move, in reality there are many other concepts and dynamics one must be familiar with.
The following keywords are just a few of the terms prospective homeowners should know, both abstractly and in concrete terms for their home of choice:
- Property value
- Market interest rates
- Mortgage terms
- Loan options: fixed-rate, adjustable-rate, government-backed
- Contractual contingencies
- Inspection requirements
So how does one build up this knowledge? There are a variety of ways to educate yourself about the real estate market as a first-time buyer. On your own, you can pursue online resources as well as books in print to improve your lay of the land. There are even online courses for a thorough education.
It may also be helpful to consult with others you know who have more experience in the real estate market, who may be able to better answer direct questions about your specific needs. This can include homeowners you already know as well as real estate brokers and advisors, who can offer their professional expertise to walk you through the home purchasing process.
When seeking the support of outside resources, don’t be afraid to ask any and all questions you may have about real estate. Buying a home is a complex process that confronts different individuals with different dilemmas. This is why thoroughly educating yourself on homeownership is the best thing you can do to ensure that you make an investment that will work for you.
State-by-State Rankings of Home Prices and Educational Leader Salaries
To help principals, vice principals, superintendents, and other school administrators figure out the best places to lay out their career foundations, we have compiled an index of the top locations in the country for educational leaders to buy a home. These rankings were compiled by subtracting the median educational leader salary from the typical home value in each state. Those with the smallest difference rank among the best states to buy a home, while those with the largest discrepancy will be the most challenging to find affordable options.
Read on to learn more about where each state stands so that you can get the most out of your career while realizing your homeowner dreams.
To establish this ranking, we compared the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ median annual education administrators’ salaries by state to Zillow’s typical home value in each state. All BLS data is taken from their May 2022 report, accessed August 2023. Zillow’s data was published in January 2023, accessed August 2023.
Home value increase rates are taken from the Federal Housing Finance Agency.
Typical home value: $837,324
Median educational leader salary: $101,110
The median educational leader salaries in Hawaii fall around the middle of the national rankings, but the exorbitantly high home values in the state (which are the highest in the country) mean that it is still a very difficult place for educational leaders to afford a home. You may have to settle for taking your next vacation there.
Typical home value: $743,361
Median educational leader salary: $131,870
California is another state that offers fairly high educational leader salaries but nevertheless has such high property values that they are still hard to attain for those without enormous incomes. These already pricey homes have increased in value at a rate of 47.54% over the past five years.
49. District of Columbia - Washington, D.C.
Typical home value: $624,078
Median educational leader salary: $127,640
Washington, D.C. is another location with tremendously high home values, meaning the six-figure salaries educational leaders receive there may not be enough to cover the costs of home ownership. Though home values dropped by 2.35% last year, in the past five years they have trended upward by 22.76%, placing them further out of reach.
Typical home value: $587,874
Median educational leader salary: $127,640
Massachusetts home values have increased at a rate of 50.65% in the past five years, an exorbitant number considering that they already ranked among the most expensive homes in the country. This means that principals, vice principals, and superintendents are likely to have trouble finding a home they can afford in the state.
Typical home value: $543,142
Median educational leader salary: $103,050
Colorado is an increasingly popular state for American homeowners, and its property values have spiked accordingly. Despite a slight dip last year, its five year growth rate of 52.02% makes clear that housing prices in the state will never return to what they once were.
Typical home value: $577,352
Median educational leader salary: $139,350
The median educational leader salary in Washington state is the highest in the country, but unfortunately, this is unlikely to be enough to meet housing costs there. Though it may have once been among the most attractive places in the country to buy a home at a reasonable value, the past five years have seen significant increases in property value (at a rate of 58.64%).
Typical home value: $510,933
Median educational leader salary: $102,810
Once an affordable state to buy a home amid beautiful nature, the word is now out about Utah, whose home values have increased by a whopping 71.74% in the past five years. Educational leaders will have to work hard to stretch their budgets to accommodate buying homes in the state.
Typical home value: $498,557
Median educational leader salary: $126,610
Oregon’s educational leader salaries rank among the top ten in the country. However, its home prices are also considerably higher than many other states, meaning it still may not be feasible for those in school admin roles in the state. In the past year, home values fell slightly, at a rate of 1.57%, meaning those who are aggressively looking for homes in the state should act now to find the best prices.
Typical home value: $446,601
Median educational leader salary: $87,400
With fairly high home values and educational leader salaries ranking in the bottom half of the country, Montana is not an ideal state to look for a home as a school principal. It is another scenic state where home values have risen dramatically in the past five years, at a reported growth rate of 74.03%.
42. New Jersey
Typical home value: $484,466
Median educational leader salary: $131,170
Good news first: New Jersey’s salaries for educational leaders rank among the top five in the country. However, its already-high home prices have risen by 52.46% in the past five years, growing by 6.85% last year alone. This means it is not a promising state for educational leaders to find a home.
Typical home value: $442,819
Median educational leader salary: $93,120
Once overlooked in the real estate market, the beautiful state of Idaho has more recently become the top-ranking state for home value increases, spiking at a stunning rate of 97.89% in the past five years. While this is great news for those who have long owned property in the state, it has rapidly shifted the buying market, placing it out of reach of many. The mid-level salaries for educational leaders do not improve one’s prospects of finding a home here.
40. New Hampshire
Typical home value: $446,838
Median educational leader salary: $99,510
Though they are not unreasonably low, salaries for school principals and other administrators in New Hampshire fall in the bottom half of the country. Combined with its rapidly escalating property values, which have grown at a rate of 77.12% over the past five years, this makes the state a less than ideal place to become a homeowner.
Typical home value: $420,493
Median educational leader salary: $80,590
Arizona ranks among the top five states in the country for home value growth, which is bad news for those who have been hoping to realize their homeownership dreams there. This is especially true for those working in educational leadership, as the state falls within the bottom five median salaries for those in the profession.
38. Rhode Island
Typical home value: $432,888
Median educational leader salary: $109,370
Rhode Island property values are high and only rising, having made gains of 7.63% in the last year alone. Educational leaders are well-compensated in the state, but it would still be quite difficult to afford the high price tags of homes there.
Typical home value: $416,340
Median educational leader salary: $101,290
Nevada is another state that has seen dramatic rises in home values over the past five years, which have increased at a rate of 56.58%. Though last year saw a 3.6% drop in home values, the overall trend still places homes out of reach for many. For educational leaders, who earn a solid six-figure salary in the state, this is still not enough to make home ownership a particularly feasible option.
Typical home value: $390,856
Median educational leader salary: $83,150
Florida ranks among the bottom ten median salaries for principals and administrators in the country, while its home values are skyrocketing, having grown at a rate of 81.3% in the past five years and 7.86% last year alone. This means it is not recommended as a place to achieve homeownership as an educational leader.
35. New York
Typical home value: $441,462
Median educational leader salary: $134,560
New York offers the third-highest salaries for educational leaders in the country, but that isn’t enough to make it a sure bet for those who wish to buy houses there. Homes throughout the state were already expensive but have been on a continuous rise over the past five years, swelling by a rate of 48.27%.
Typical home value: $383,137
Median educational leader salary: $97,230
Maine is another mostly-rural state that has seen enormous property value increases in the past five years, ballooning at a rate of 76.41%. Though it once may have been an ideal place for those who wished to work in schools while enjoying a pastoral lifestyle, school administrators there will find it hard to afford the increasingly high-ticket homes in the region.
Typical home value: $380,265
Median educational leader salary: $100,760
Vermont falls right in the middle of national averages for educational leader salaries, offering a solid six figures to school principals, vice principals, and superintendents. However, home values in the state are high and rising rapidly, having grown by 8.82% in the last year alone. This means it would be difficult to find an affordable home there on a principal’s salary.
Typical home value: $405,562
Median educational leader salary: $126,390
Home values have risen in Maryland at a slower rate than many other states, but this isn’t saying much: they have still grown at a rate of 35.9% in the past five years, making the state considerably less affordable, even for those earning the strong salaries of educational leaders there. It is nevertheless worth noting that its median annual salaries for principals are among the top ten in the country.
Typical home value: $371,623
Median educational leader salary: $100,740
The cost of a home in Virginia has increased by 51.51% in the past five years, pushing property values out of reach for many who had previously seen it as an affordable and comfortable option. With educational leader salaries landing in the bottom half of national averages, it is quickly moving out of reach even for those earning six figure incomes.
Typical home value: $370,404
Median educational leader salary: $125,490
With salaries for principals and other school administrators ranking among the top ten in the country, Delaware may seem like a great state for those who are hoping to enter the real estate market. However, its high home values (which rose by 5.33% last year) have made the once affordable state a less than ideal option for those working in school administration.
Typical home value: $351,217
Median educational leader salary: $107,260
Alaska’s home values are rising at a slower rate than in many other states, although at 35% in the last five years, they are still undergoing a considerable spike. This is unfortunate for school leaders in the state, who are earning a nice salary that fits within the top quarter for the profession nationwide.
28. North Carolina
Typical home value: $320,096
Median educational leader salary: $77,560
There’s no need to mince words about it: North Carolina’s school leader salaries are in the bottom two nationwide. Paired with its rapidly accelerating property values, which have grown at a rate of 75.5% in the past five years, school administrators will not be left with stellar options for homes in the state.
Typical home value: $374,598
Median educational leader salary: $136,780
One of the best reasons to lay down the foundations of a school administrator career in Connecticut is its high salaries for school leaders, which are the second highest in the country. However, its property values have long been in the top half of the country and are continuing to rise, growing at a rate of 8.07% last year alone.
Typical home value: $338,216
Median educational leader salary: $101,670
With so many of the country’s beautiful pastoral states seeing a huge influx of property investment, it’s no wonder Wyoming’s property values have risen by 51.72% in the past five years. This is unfortunate news for educational leaders in the state, who are earning a salary that is in the top half of national averages but nevertheless may not meet the needs for homeowners in the state.
Typical home value: $311,628
Median educational leader salary: $80,890
Home values have risen enormously in Tennessee over the past five years, increasing at a rate of a whopping 78.18%. Its school administrator salaries, meanwhile, are in the bottom ten nationwide. Those who wish to buy homes should take note, as the math on a new property investment is unlikely to work out in your favor.
Typical home value: $303,971
Median educational leader salary: $81,970
The Lone Star State is not an ideal place to find a home as a school administrator or superintendent, as it offers salaries in the bottom ten on the nationwide rankings. Its homes, which may have once been within reach for those looking for deals, have grown considerably in recent years – 5.07% last year alone – meaning it is no longer an especially affordable option.
Typical home value: $331,190
Median educational leader salary: $109,400
Minnesota’s median annual salary for educational leaders is strong, ranking in the top quarter nationwide. Its home values are rising at a (slightly) slower rate than many other states in the country, meaning it is not a terrible choice for school principals hoping to eventually buy a home. However, you will have to be quite judicious, as home values in the state still might stretch your wallet.
Typical home value: $318,918
Median educational leader salary: $98,770
Are you hoping to buy a home in the Peach State? It won’t be the easiest place to find a home on a school administrator’s salary, but with home values on the lower side for the country (relatively speaking), it isn’t the worst choice. Act now while you still can, though, as property values have increased at a rate of 69.87% in the past five years.
21. South Dakota
Typical home value: $296,108
Median educational leader salary: $82,220
South Dakota’s home values rank in the bottom half of U.S. state property values, meaning school administrators may be able to afford to become homeowners there despite earning salaries in the bottom ten of the national list. The state’s property value growth rate is less than promising for prospective buyers, having increased by 8.27% in the last year alone.
20. New Mexico
Typical home value: $292,821
Median educational leader salary: $92,830
Homes in New Mexico may still be in reach for school administrators, even though they earn lower salaries than in many other states in the country. Prices are rising dramatically, however – at a rate of 7.22% in the last year – so now is the time to take action if you are hoping to buy a home in the state soon.
19. South Carolina
Typical home value: $288,815
Median educational leader salary: $96,080
South Carolina’s educational leader salaries are not especially stellar compared to national averages, but the relatively low cost of housing places it in the top half of our list. However, it is experiencing booming value growth, increasing at a rate of 9.53 last year alone.
Typical home value: $285,036
Median educational leader salary: $102,370
Wisconsin is heralded as a great state to pursue the comfortable middle-class lifestyle that has been a paragon of American experience for the past century (and which can’t be found many other places). With six-figure median salaries for educational leaders and relatively low property values, those looking to buy homes should act fast, as prices went up by 7.76% last year.
Typical home value: $255,965
Median educational leader salary: $103,420
With home values on the lower side nationally and educational leader salaries in the top half of all states, Pennsylvania could be a solid option for school principals and other administrators to pursue buying a home. It is worth noting that the average home value listed is significantly lower than that of Pennsylvania’s major cities, meaning those who would like to be based in urban locations may have to spend significantly more.
Typical home value: $251,061
Median educational leader salary: $102,970
It may surprise you to learn that Nebraska is home to booming property investment, which has increased home values at a rate of 51.94% in the past five years. Its school administrator salaries fall within the top half of national averages, however, meaning principals and other school leaders still have the opportunity to become homeowners here.
15. North Dakota
Typical home value: $251,061
Median educational leader salary: $101,190
With salaries in the top half of national averages for school administrators and home values still considerably lower than many other states, North Dakota is a place where school principals still have a chance of affording to buy a home. Property values are growing at a relatively slower rate than other places – 30.97% in the past five years, which until recently would still be considered a stunning increase.
Typical home value: $250,542
Median educational leader salary: $102,230
Let’s be clear: the average home value in the state of Illinois is much lower than the average you would find for the city of Chicago alone. However, if you are a school administrator seeking an affordable lifestyle, you may be able to find one in the Prairie State. Property values here rose by 4.28% last year.
Typical home value: $238,055
Median educational leader salary: $95,560
Missouri’s salaries for school administrators are not exceptional, ranking in the bottom half of national averages. However, its comparatively low home values mean that principals and superintendents may be able to find property within their budget in the state. Act quickly, because property values have increased by 55.90% in the last five years.
Typical home value: $223,246
Median educational leader salary: $84,930
Alabama’s educational leader salaries are on the low side nationally, but home values are as well. This means that the state should still be an option for principals and school administrators who are dead-set on becoming homeowners. If this is you, now is the time to act, as property values have increased by 61.42% in the past five years.
Typical home value: $231,659
Median educational leader salary: $95,120
You can still find an affordable home in Indiana, but not for long, as property values in the Hoosier State grew at a rate of 59.41% in the past five years. School administrators earn lower salaries here than many other states, but a lower cost of living can stretch this further than in many other places.
Typical home value: $235,360
Median educational leader salary: $101,330
One may still be able to accomplish their dream of becoming a homeowner in Michigan, which has relatively low home values and salaries for educational leaders that fall right in the middle of national averages. Its home value growth rate is slower than many other American states, though it’s not nothing: in the last year, property values increased by 4.17%.
Typical home value: $200,369
Median educational leader salary: $79,560
Louisiana is a state where residents can take advantage of the low cost of living to make the most of their money. Salaries for school leaders in the state are in the bottom five nationwide, but the state’s especially low home values mean that it is still feasible to buy a home here on an income that would not allow this elsewhere.
Typical home value: $215,641
Median educational leader salary: $96,610
There’s no place like home! House prices in Kansas are on the low side nationally, which means that principals and school administrators may still be able to find homes there. That may not be true for long though, as home values ballooned by 50.79% in the past five years.
Typical home value: $199,636
Median educational leader salary: $80,800
Thanks to its exceptionally low property values, Arkansas is among the best picks for school administrators to become homeowners. This is saying something, as salaries for educational leaders in the state rank among the bottom ten nationwide. Act soon, because property values are rising quickly (8.76% in the last year).
Typical home value: $218,666
Median educational leader salary: $100,260
With low property values and decent salaries for educational leaders relative to other states, Ohio may be the perfect choice to pursue a career as a school principal or superintendent. Property values in the Buckeye State are also growing fast, rising at a rate of 56.42% in the past five years.
Typical home value: $198,935
Median educational leader salary: $81,150
Oklahoma’s low cost of living is a major asset of living in the state. Though school administrators earn significantly lower salaries than in many other states, their money may go further here, placing a home within reach, at least for the time being. Act fast, though, as property values rose by 6.64% last year alone.
Typical home value: $200,954
Median educational leader salary: $84,060
The Bluegrass State is one of the best places in the country to become a homeowner if you are a school administrator, even despite the fact that its salaries are lower than in the majority of other states. This is because its low costs of living make more things possible for less expense. Home rates here are booming, though, with an increase of 7.67% in the last year.
Typical home value: $199,636
Median educational leader salary: $101,210
The Midwestern middle class existence may still be possible in Iowa, where property values are among the lowest in the country. Its salaries for school administrators, meanwhile, are in the top half nationwide, meaning you may be able to assemble your dream situation here. Don’t wait, as property values went up by 7.3% last year alone.
Typical home value: $172,654
Median educational leader salary: $78,600
School administrators in Mississippi earn the third-lowest salaries of any state in the country, but that doesn’t stop this state from ranking #2 in our list, as the low property values here mean you can take this money much further than in many other places. Still, rates here are rising quickly, having grown by 46.79% in the last year.
1. West Virginia
Typical home value: $155,773
Median educational leader salary: $77,340
If you hadn’t been dreaming of a reason to move to West Virginia, here is a reason to: with the lowest home values to be found anywhere in the country, a home of your own is truly within reach. This is true even despite the fact that school administrators make less here than anywhere else in the country. Indeed, the low cost of living is the reason why West Virginia takes first place on our list for school administrators who wish to become homeowners. Take advantage of these low prices while you can, because property rates are on the rise here as well, having grown at a rate of 38.5% in the past five years.