Few things are more intertwined with “the American Dream” than homeownership. Owning a home has the potential for pure white picket fence Americana – at least for those allowed to participate in this “dream.” Being able to do so is no sure thing, especially if you’re looking at housing markets that are brutal on first-time owners like these.

  1. San Francisco/San José

San Francisco now ranks above New York as the most expensive city in the United States. San José isn’t too far behind. Fueled in part by Silicon Valley and the tech boom, San Francisco is the most expensive metro area for first-time owners, with home buyers needing an annual income of an average of $289,100 for a midrange home. According to the US Census Bureau, most 25- to 44-year-olds earn less than half that.

  1. Los Angeles/Riverside

While Los Angeles and Riverside vary wildly pricewise depending on the area in which you look, there are other factors working against them. The areas score high in cultural and nearby amenities, but the homes can nevertheless be quite pricey, with Riverside in particular seeing the worst job market of any area on this list. Higher costs plus lower expectations for lucrative jobs equals a housing market that’s brutal on first-time buyers.

  1. Seattle

In contrast to a couple of the California entries on this list, Seattle actually does have a strong job market at the moment. That doesn’t mean that its homes are affordable, however. Seattle is a very chic, in-demand city at the moment, which is driving the asking price for homes up and up. If you’re a first-time buyer looking to settle in Seattle, beware – you’re not alone, and that competition can lead to outrageous home prices.

  1. San Diego

We return to a different part of California to round out this list. San Diego is another pricey area, and it has less of an inventory and less availability than the other California locales on this list.

Being a first-time home buyer is hard, so it helps to know where to look. Right now, the housing market presents a Catch-22 situation for any would-be West Coast first-time home buyers – lots of great job opportunities, but not so many affordable housing options.