Somewhere in the context of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” homeownership became a component of the American Dream. Presidents George Bush the first and Bill Clinton gave many a speech that espoused homeownership as an attainable dream for all Americans…perhaps not a “dream house” for all Americans but a house for all Americans.

Today, in a time when people don’t agree about much including how to define the American Dream, can working class individuals actually afford homeownership?

Howmuch.net is a service devoted to “understanding money.” This web service developed a “True Cost of Living Tool” that enables users to get an idea about how much money it would take to live in any given location in the country. (Howmuch.net has developed a variety of tools to help users the costs, uses and demographics of money. It’s definitely worth checking out.)

For its True Cost of Living Tool, Howmuch.net collected data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on income levels, data from the National Bureau of Economic Research on taxes, the US Department of Agriculture on the cost of food, etc., to determine the costs and expenses of living in a specific place based upon household size, income, occupation, food preferences, etc. The True Cost of Living Tool also tells users if and how much money would be left over, if any, after paying for housing, food, transportation, taxes. etc.

We already know that real estate is based upon location, location, location. It turns out that money and homeownership are too.

San Antonio, TX is only city among the country’s 10 most populous cities where working class individuals can live without taking on debt!

Of the 50 largest cities in the country, only 12 are considered affordable. Of those 12 affordable cities, only Newark, NJ, Chesapeake, VA and Jacksonville, FL are coastal cities. There are NO affordable cities on the West Coast.

Howmuch.net indicates that the best places from a financial perspective (not having to go into debt) for a working class family to live would…

1. Fort Worth, TX
2. Newark, NJ
3. Glendale, AZ
4. Gilbert, AZ
5. Mesa, AZ

The best states from a financial perspective for a working class family to live would be…

1. Indiana
2. Arkansas
3. Mississippi and Arizona
4. West Virginia and Ohio

Howmuch.net tells use the worst cities from a financial perspective (having to go into debt) for a working class family to live would be…

1. New York City
2. San Francisco
3. Boston
4. Washington DC
5. Philadelphia

The least affordable states are…

1. Washington DC
2. Hawaii
3. California
4. Massachusetts
5. Colorado

To help put all of this into perspective, know that the fourth most unaffordable state, Massachusetts, is still more than two times as affordable as Washington, DC.