Despite the fact that society thinks people who live in big houses are rich, one's level of consumption can be so deceiving in terms of accurately describing the person's true financial status to the rest of society. It's so odd that most cultures still use items of conspicuous consumption as some sort of barometer for the individual consumer's financial health. And it's insidious, even today, after the debt-fueled melt down of 2009 left millions of over-extended families, corporations, and even cities up a perilous creek. Certainly the Salt Lake Valley contains its fair share of those flaunting their non-existent wealth by buying the large house, huge truck, or fancy car. But, where does this charade happen the most? Where are people most over-extended on their house? We once again turn to this database for the answer, which brings us a map of housing costs as a percent of household income:
First, the census bureau states that spending more than 30% of one's income on housing costs is perilous to one's finances. This site says families should stay below 28%. But what are people in SLC actually doing? Interestingly, in SLC proper the upper-most parts of the Avenues are the most over-extended on their houses, where such costs are taking more than 45% of families' monthly paychecks. Note that the other largest swath of people buying too much house for their paycheck is in the opposite end of the valley, between Sandy and Draper, up along the mountains. In fact, Draper in its entirety is above 30%. Surprisingly, South Jordan residents also look to be spending a disproportionate amount of their checks on housing (30-40%) compared with the rest of the valley, even though the city's known for rapidly increasing its housing supply. I figured people were moving to South Jordan in droves because it was good for their finances, but that doesn't look to be the case.
Here's SLC proper:
Funnily enough, those most over-extended on their house are those in the Capitol Hill area, highest parts of the Avenues, in Federal Heights, and in the Harvard Yale District, with a couple of other pockets of over-extension south of I-215.
Potential lessons here? In SLC, those living in particularly fancy areas are generally having a harder time paying for their housing than the rest of us. People who spend lots of money on houses don't necessarily have great jobs! Also, people who are moving out to South Jordan, West Jordan, and Draper don't have an easier time paying their mortgage than those who live closer to SLC proper.