Where does all the money go?

Back at it again this week. #MakeoverMonday week 47 has us looking at income versus mortgage amounts in the top 97 US major metropolitan areas. The inspiration comes from HowMuch.net and the picture above. Let’s take a look

What works well

  • Good title
  • Proper citation
  • While the color palette doesn’t meet accessibility standards, they did break it up into buckets with distinct colors

What could be improved

  • I don’t really care for this data being shown on a map, but it does drive home the point that it’s expensive to live on the coast
  • The 3-D aspect is a bit confusing and unnecessary
  • Having a label for the majority of the cities makes it very cluttered.

My take

When I first started to look at this data, I had envisioned some kind of app that the user would input their choices into and then would tell them where they fall in relation to the rest of the cities. But then I had a better idea. 

This past summer, my family moved into a new house as we had outgrown our old home. One of the things my wife and decided on very early was that we were going to be conscious about they home we buy because we didn’t want to spend our years being “house poor”

House poor is when you spend a large proportion of his or her total income on home ownership, including mortgage payments, property taxes, maintenance and utilities.


So we started looking at how much we bring home each month and set mortgage % threshold, meaning we didn’t our monthly mortgage to be more than x% of our income. And that was the inspiration for this week’s makeover. 

This visual I created was a scatterplot of the top 97 US major metropolitan cities comparing monthly income to monthly mortgage. The visual shows strong correlation between the two measures. I highlighted two segments. Those whose mortgage's account for more than 50% of their income and those whose mortgages account for less than 20%. For additional context, I plotted a box and whisker plot on each axes leaving only the outliers showing to hilghlight the extremes in the distributions for each measure.
click to navigate to the interactive version

A simple scatterplot measuring median monthly income compared to median mortgage payment. Recently, I completed a similar dashboard for week 24 of #WorkoutWednesday.

I really the box and whisker plots along each axis to show the not only the statistical distribution but also, as I’ve done here, highlighted the outliers by hiding all other marks.

Within the scatterplot, the thing that jumped out to me was Miami, FL. It’s the lowest red circle. Given its location, Miami has income considerably lower than the median while also having a mortgage payment considerably higher than the median. Lastly, folks in Miami, FL are spending more than 60% of their monthly income on their mortgage.


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