Three years ago, I bought a house for what seemed like an awful lot of money. It wasn't, at least statistically; among houses in this ZIP code, you'll find mine about in the middle, pricewise, and Oklahoma housing prices are at the low end of the scale nationally. If your next question is "What's the high end?", consider this: I ran a search for "1060 square feet 3 bedrooms" and found this place in San Jose, currently offered for $599,000, or about 6 times what my place is worth. And my lot is more than twice as big. (That lawn, however, looks better than mine at the moment.)

"Yeah, but they make more money in San Jose." True enough. But do they make six times as much? Probably not. And since I'm not exactly rolling in it, I'd have to assume that it's a lot harder to buy a house there than it is here.

Every year, the National Low Income Housing Coalition puts together a report called Out of Reach, and this is the premise:

Despite the emphasis on homeownership and the marginalization of renters, renter households still make up fully one-third of the households in the United States — nearly 36 million households. Out of Reach is a side-by-side comparison of wages and rents in every county, Metropolitan Area (MSAs/HMFAs), combined nonmetropolitan area and state in the United States. For each jurisdiction, the report calculates the amount of money a household must earn in order to afford a rental unit at a range of sizes (0, 1, 2, 3, and 4 bedrooms) at the area's Fair Market Rent (FMR), based on the generally accepted affordability standard of paying no more than 30% of income for housing costs. From these calculations the hourly wage a worker must earn to afford the FMR for a two-bedroom home is derived. This figure is the Housing Wage.

"HMFA" denotes a Metropolitan Fair Market Rent Area as defined by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Here's what the Coalition has to say about things here in the Big Breezy:

In Oklahoma City, OK HMFA, the Fair Market Rent (FMR) for a two-bedroom apartment is $587. In order to afford this level of rent and utilities, without paying more than 30% of income on housing, a household must earn $1,957 monthly or $23,480 annually. Assuming a 40-hour work week, 52 weeks per year, this level of income translates into a Housing Wage of $11.29.

My house payment — principal, interest, plus escrow — is a few bucks more t