How Long Does It Take to Save for a Down Payment?


At HotPads, we’re big fans of renting around for a while to find out what you like (and don’t like) about a home. However, many renters dream of one day settling down and making a long-term commitment to homeownership.

As many newlyweds or soon-to-be weds can tell you, collecting enough cash to make a long-term commitment official is harder than it sounds. In fact, research shows that saving for a down payment is the biggest hindrance for renters who want to buy.

Our economics team calculated how long renters can expect to spend saving for a down payment while still paying the area’s median rent. On average, a renter in the U.S. can expect to spend nearly six and a half years saving for a down payment on the median priced home, assuming they put 20 percent down and can afford to save 20 percent of the median income each month.

The bottom line: rising housing costs make it tough for renters to save. Experts recommend spending no more than 30 percent of income on housing expenses, yet the typical U.S. renter spends 34 percent of their income on housing. Nationally, the median rent is $1,480 per month, up 2.5 percent from a year ago.

Looking to buy in an expensive market like San Jose or San Francisco? Get ready to spend time apartment hopping first – renters in these cities can expect to spend more than 30 years saving for a 20 percent down payment on the median home, even if they save 20 percent of the area’s median income every month.

Want to take the plunge to homeownership a little sooner? In affordable housing and rental markets like Pittsburgh and Cleveland, renters can set aside 20 percent of their income each month and save enough for a 20 percent down payment in four years or less.

Renters who want to buy sooner can also explore their financing options. Some FHA loans have strict qualifications, but only require a 3.5 percent down payment. The typical renter in the U.S. could save up enough for a 3.5 down payment on the median home in just a year and two months.

See how long it will take to save up for a down payment in your area based on how much of your income you save each month below.