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New LI teachers struggle to pay rent, says Zillow study

Online real estate site Zillow found that typical

Online real estate site Zillow found that typical Suffolk County rents take up 51.9 percent of the salary of a beginning teacher. In Nassau County, rent consumed 48.4 percent of a starting teacher's pay, according to the online real estate company. Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto/fermate

Starting teachers on Long Island struggle to cover their rent, especially in Suffolk County, according to a new analysis by the real estate website Zillow.

The analysis found typical Suffolk County rents take up 51.9 percent of the salary of a beginning teacher, defined as a teacher in the 25th percentile of salaries for their profession and region ($61,000). In Nassau County, rent consumed 48.4 percent of a starting teacher's pay ($68,000), the research shows. While Nassau rents tend to be higher than Suffolk's, Suffolk rents take up a larger chunk of teachers’ salaries because the reported salaries there are lower, according to Zillow.

Newly minted Suffolk teachers who manage to buy a home, however, have an easier time covering their mortgage than those in Nassau, thanks to lower home prices to the east, according to Zillow.

A typical monthly mortgage payment in Suffolk County takes up 29.5 percent of a starting teacher's pay — just below the 30 percent mark at which housing is generally considered affordable, Zillow says. A typical Nassau County mortgage payment is well above that line, eating up 34.9 percent of beginning teachers' pay, the study says.

Experienced teachers have less trouble covering their housing bills, but it's not always easy — especially if they're still paying rent, the research shows: Nassau teachers earning in the 75th percentile for their profession and region would still have to pay 29.9 percent of their salaries toward rent, just a hair below the 30 percent affordability standard.

Zillow used government data on teacher salaries from 2017 and information on home values and mortgage rates from this summer.

Teachers across the country struggle to pay rent as well, Zillow found. Entry-level teachers cannot afford the typical rent in 49 of the 50 largest U.S. markets. In 19 large markets, including the New York metro area, teachers would need to spend more than half of their salaries on market-rate rent.

In San Francisco and San Jose, median home and rent payments are greater than 100 percent of a starting teacher’s salary, according to Zillow’s analysis.  

Carol Yopp of the Hauppauge-based nonprofit Long Island Housing Partnership says teachers looking to buy their first home can take advantage of down payment and closing cost assistance programs geared toward first-time home buyers. 

“The struggle with purchasing, though, can become problematic if they have amassed large student loan debt,” says Yopp, director of counseling and program manager.

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