If you earn $46.86 an hour and work 40 hours a week for 50 weeks a year, you'll earn $93,720. That's enough to make the median rental property in the Greater New York City area affordable by federal standards.
Move to the Springfield, MO area and $16.16 an hour would be enough.
But comparing the most expensive cities to the least expensive cities can be a little unenlightening. One reason median rents are so high in New York and San Francisco is that average incomes in those places are high. Conversely, rents in places like Youngstown are very low because the local economies are depressed.
That's why it's instructive to look at places like Greater Austin and the Twin Cities. These are fairly affluent areas, with highly educated populations and high wages. But they don't have the combination of land scarcity and strict zoning that make housing units so scarce in coastal California and the Northeast Corridor. And that makes a big difference. $32.66 is enough to afford the median rental in the Austin area and $30.16 is enough for Minneapolis — a little bit less than the median earnings of an American household with two full-time workers. In other words, affluent places where it's easy to build have rents 30 percent cheaper (or more) than hard-to-build cities like New York and San Francisco.