San Francisco has the widest discrepancy between rent and PITI payments. (Credit: Getty Royalty Free)

California does it again. The high cost of home ownership is no secret in the West Coast cities, but the gap between monthly rent and monthly mortgage payments (includes principal, taxes, insurance and interest, or “PITI”) in those northern California cities is shocking in some cases. A recent study by the Urban Institute looked at the “rent gap”—or the additional portion of income that would go to cover the cost of a mortgage relative to the median rent—and found that there were sixteen cities where it will cost less per month to rent a home than to own one. (To come up with percentages that can be meaningfully compared to each other they used median income as the base level for comparison.) The cities at the top of the chart are where it is cheaper to own a home than to rent one. Click on the chart to expand.

Cities at the top of the chart are where it is cheaper to own a home than rent one. Click to expand.

So what does this chart mean? The numbers listed here are percentage points—so for the San Francisco example the difference between the percentage of salary a renter would spend versus a buyer is about 45 percentage points difference. The chart below shows percentages of income. Looking at San…