In this article, I’m going to answer the question below about whether or not nurses can afford a nice home.
“I know nurses can make a good income but I’m not sure how good. I’m thinking about becoming a nurse but I want to make sure I can afford the big house that I want.”
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Can a Nurse Afford a Nice Home?
Yes, most nurses should be able to afford a house. Given the average salary of a nurse ($73,300), you should be able to afford a house costing $200,000, assuming a down payment of 3.5% and a 30-year fixed-rate loan at 3.7%. How nice of a home will depend on preferences and what state you live in.
Several things affect a nurse’s ability to afford a home. The nurse’s income, their ability to budget/manage their money and the home they want. Below I’m going to dive deeper into this topic.
How Much the Nurse Makes
The average hourly pay rate for a registered nurse in the United States is about $73,300 a year. This figure has a lot of room for variations since you need to factor in other things such as experience, employer, and hours worked.
So, while the short answer is yes, most registered nurses can afford a house, you need to dig a lot deeper if you want a truly accurate answer to this question.
Here are some of the other factors you need to consider when deciding if you can afford such a large purchase.
How Well the Nurse Manages Their Personal Finance
First of all, whether you want to buy a house, a car, or just a new pair of shoes, you need to consider how well you manage your money.
Everyone needs to budget and exercise proper money management regardless of what their salary is.
Being financially responsible means keeping track of the money that’s coming in, the money going out, and how much your intended purchase costs.
Let’s first look at money coming in. For nurses, this will vary since you might work in a public hospital, maybe a retirement home, or perhaps even an urgent care center.
All of these places of employment will offer different rates, starting salaries, and bonuses.
One nurse might make $15.00 an hour, while another might be bringing home $40.00 an hour.
Think about what you have coming in every month, and then compare that to your monthly expenses.
You will want to think about every purchase or bill that you take care of each month. What do you spend on entertainment and food each month? What’s your rent payment?
Are you paying off a car or student loans? Maybe you have credit card debt that you’re paying off.
These are all things to consider and factor in when looking at money in (income) versus money out (expenses).
Once you have paid all of your monthly expenses, what do you have left? Does any of that money go into savings or a retirement account?
Is there anything left over at all?
It’s important that you get a clear picture of what’s going on with your finances at the end of every month before you entertain the idea of purchasing a house.
Consider what kind of property you can afford. You will want to take that price into account to gauge whether you can afford it or not.
We’ll help you figure that out later on.
Consider Your Outstanding Debts
As we mentioned, you might have some debts that you need to pay off.
Considering that you’re a nurse, odds are that you have some student loans to take care of.
Depending on your education level, you might have $20,000, $50,000, or even $100,000 in student loan debt. Those monthly payments can hit your budget hard.
Combined with other debts, such as a car payment or credit card debt, you might not be in a situation to purchase a home.
Right now, your top priority might be lowering your debt amount so that you’re in a more stable financial position in a few years. It’s a worthwhile goal, for sure.
Different Lifestyles Have Varying Costs
When it is time to look for a house to buy, you’re going to have to take multiple factors into account. What kind of property are you looking for anyway?
Do you want a townhouse, a single-family home, or something on the smaller side? Do you want a lot of space, or are you fine with a rowhome?
You will also need to think about the area in which the house is located. Certain neighborhoods will drive up the cost of a house.
If the schools are great and it’s a mostly affluent part of town, you’ll be looking at some pricey homes. Remember, you have to pay for quality.
In addition, don’t just consider the cost of the home, but factor in the property taxes, the costs involved in the upkeep, as well as the typical cost of living in that area.
A city usually has a higher cost of living than a more rural area.
This can come into play when you’re grocery shopping, looking for a car or home insurance, or just paying the property taxes. These types of things should be considered when looking for a new home.
Part-Time Vs. Full-Time Incomes
Yet another thing to think about is whether you’re working part-time or full-time.
If your salary is just average and you’re only working part-time, you might not be bringing in enough money right now to buy a house.
On the other hand, if you’re working full-time, snagging some doubles or overtime, and you’ve got an employer who pays a decent salary, then you’re probably in a good place to go house-hunting.
It’s easy to forget to factor in the number of hours you work in a given week or month.
However, knowing this information will ensure that you get a more accurate idea of how much money you’re bringing in and how that can help your dreams of buying a house.
Experience Level Matters
Besides the number of hours that you work, also consider your experience level.
As most nurses know, your experience level in the field will be a huge part of determining your annual salary.
Someone with just two years of experience will probably make significantly less than someone who has been working as a registered nurse for 15 years.
Entry-level nurses are most likely not in a position to start scouting outhouses, but you never know.
This is why you need to gather as much financial information as you can.
Maybe your salary isn’t that much, but you might have been saving up for years, and perhaps you’re debt-free.
On the other side of the coin, an experienced registered nurse with two decades in the job might have poor financial management skills.
They could be knee-deep in debt and have measly savings. Again, there are various factors at work here.
Single Nurses Vs. Married Nurses
Finally, are you living alone, or are you married? If you are living with a significant other, then you might have the benefit of being a two-income household.
This makes affording a house a whole lot easier. However, if you’re living alone, then you only have your own earnings to rely on, and that will weigh heavily on your house-buying decisions.
Considering that buying a home is a huge time commitment, it might be better to wait, especially if you plan on eventually getting married.
That way, both you and your spouse can make a joint decision about which home to purchase, in which neighborhood, and what kind of mortgage to get.
This is a lot of information, but buying a house is a huge deal and not one that you want to jump into blindly.
We hope this helped and that you feel more informed about how to go about the house-hunting process.
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Have You Read Any of These Yet?
- Personal Loans for Nurses: A Nurse’s Guide
- How to Save Money as a Nurse
- Are Nurses in the Middle Class?
- Can Nurses Work with Bad Credit?