I am not going to buy a house right now. I don't even want to. It's not really affordable when you factor in repairs, scholarship rules explicitly forbid it, and my goals involve moving in the near future. Still, I page through the real estate ads and wonder what I'll be able to afford when I do buy. It can't hurt to consider what income would be necessary for the lifestyle to which I aspire.
I looked up the price of a house down the street from my parents. It's a tiny two bedroom one bath with only 728 square feet of living space, and it isn't a fabulous place despite a decent sized lot. It wouldn't be suitable for a big family, but it could be great for a single person and a dog or two. The list price is $75,000. My parents think that's ridiculously high, and they may well be right. However, if I drained almost all of my savings, I could make a 20% down payment. Even with a 7% interest rate, the payments on a thirty year mortgage would be slightly less than I pay in rent right now. Barring another real estate boom in the next few years, buying a home in my area on a single teacher's salary a few years from now seems pretty feasible. That may not be what I decide to do with my life, but it's nifty to know that I could.