Can I afford a $170,000 house?

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A question by alyssa :  I currently live in Southern California and would like to move to Tennessee in a few years. If I save $10,000 as a down payment for the house and maintain good credit, is it possibly to buy a house for the price of $170,000? (Did not include other savings for other important life things)?


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Your down payment amount should be almost twice that if you want to secure a decent mortgage deal–but if you are getting funds through the VA or the FHA, you might be able to get away with that lower amount. 

Can you afford it? Well, only you know that. Search online for a mortgage calculator and see what your basic monthly payment would be at the numbers you quoted. If it’s affordable, then you know the answer. Don’t forget to add in amounts for utilities, taxes, insurance and if you go with a federal mortgage program, PMI–it will be required. 

What doesn’t seem to be taken into consideration when I watch the lists is this: Yes, cost of living is low, taxes are low, housing is low, but when I see videos that focus on the lower cost of living, the results are almost always the same: No opportunities unless you’re a professional (and even then, that’s undercut by pay cuts or online work). More and more it feels like there needs to be a renaissance in America, but I don’t know how or what or where to begin or even how to stop it from being undercut or dying in the legislative branch. For myself? Full-time RV was the answer. I’d love to see a video on which states are the most rv friendly.


“lol no You need a deposit of at least 10% of the property value; you’re falling well short.”



The mortgage payment would be $860 / month.

To afford a house that costs $170,000 with a down payment of $34,000, you’d need to earn $36,841 per year before tax.


“Since you never stated how much you earn, your debt ratio and other liabilities the question is impossible to answer.”


. On multiple occasions, my spouse and I deliberately chose homes that were below our financial capacity, a decision that granted us remarkable flexibility in both our professional pursuits and family life. This choice ensured that we could comfortably provide quality education for our children without accumulating significant debt.

As our financial situation improved, we resisted the temptation to invest all our resources into a grand, imposing residence with a two-story entrance and demanding landscaping that required professional maintenance. Instead, we opted to purchase a modest second home and took on the responsibilities of its upkeep ourselves.

Today, a substantial portion of our retirement savings is wisely invested in a few select properties, and all of them generate positive cash flow, except for the one we currently reside in. This situation has allowed my husband to enjoy a well-deserved retirement at the age of 50, where his primary focus has been raising our children. Meanwhile, I am free to pursue any work, volunteer activities, or creative endeavors that I find meaningful.

Our current lifestyle is far superior to the alternative of us living in a large, six-bedroom, four-bathroom mansion, exhausted from the never-ending rat race and struggling to manage the associated expenses, including steep property taxes. Our properties are rented out to others, indirectly covering the real estate taxes on our holdings.

We don’t flaunt our wealth, as our assets remain discreet and hidden from the public eye. While we don’t personally utilize all of our properties, we have no pressing need to do so.

This is precisely how we prefer to keep our lives—simple and content.


“Can you buy a house for $170K in Tennessee? Yes, Will a bank give you a mortgage with only $10K down payment? Doubtful, but maybe. You’d need income around 55K a year or more to afford a 170K house, and money for closing costs.”


“You can borrow about 3x what you make So if you make about $50K, you need a 34,000 dollar down payment to avoid PMI.”


” What is your income? Also, wages tend to be lower outside of California; especially in the “South”.”


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2 responses to “Can I afford a $170,000 house?”

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  1. maeshughes

    I’m 37 years old and have shared a living arrangement with my father, contributing to rent and other expenses. My financial stability has improved over time, having recently paid off significant debt accumulated in my twenties. Presently, I have $13,000 in savings and anticipate saving $18,000 within a year since I started this journey.

    My aspiration is to own a home, particularly one valued at around $170,000. Still, I’ve been considering more modest options in the $130,000 range to avoid the trap of being “house poor.” To ensure financial prudence, I aim to keep my future mortgage and utility expenses at approximately 33% of my monthly income.

    Renting is not an appealing option for me since I require a home with a suitable garage for my automotive hobby. Balancing my strong desire for independence with my current savings momentum, I seek guidance on whether I should continue saving or explore the possibilities of homeownership. Any advice you can offer would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Alexandre Laurent

      The strategy of waiting to accumulate a 20% down payment solely to avoid PMI isn’t consistently the most financially advantageous approach. If the housing market experiences a substantial 4-year upturn while you’re diligently saving to reach that 20%, you might find it nearly impossible to offset the house’s increased cost due to inflation, compared to acquiring it at a lower price four years earlier.

      In our case, we recently secured a fixed-rate mortgage at 3.425%, even with only a 10% down payment. We anticipate achieving 20% equity within a year, at which point the PMI will no longer be a factor. Our analysis indicated that the numbers didn’t favor waiting for a larger down payment while potentially dealing with a higher interest rate.




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