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Most Americans Can’t Afford Rent

 

Odds are, you can’t afford your rent. The average household needs to make at least six figures to comfortably afford the average fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment in the seven largest U.S. cities., according to a new SmartAsset study that looked at how much it would cost to afford a two-bedroom apartment in America’s 25 largest cities. A household that spends more than 30% of its income on housing is considered “cost-burdened,” according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, but for the majority of the largest cities in the U.S., renters require incredibly large incomes to stay under that percentage. San Francisco is the most expensive city for renters on the list, where in order to avoid being so rent burdened, someone would need to make $188,000 per year. The average household income in the area is $103,801 per year.

The numbers are similar for New York, the second least affordable place on the list, where New Yorkers would need to earn a minimum of $162,400 in order to pay no more than 28% of their income on a place in the Big Apple, where the average two-bedroom apartment runs $3,800 a month.

And Boston renters would need to make $143,800 to cover the $40,300 required for a two-bedroom apartment per year. But the average household income is only $63,600.

The gap between what renters earn per hour and what it costs to afford a modest apartment at average market levels across the U.S. is just as wide: The hourly wage needed to make a modest two-bedroom apartment affordable is $22.10, according to the annual “Out Of Reach” report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s, which documents the affordability of rental housing to low-income families across the U.S.; for a modest one-bedroom, it’s $17.90. Meanwhile, the average hourly wage of U.S. renters stands at $16.88.

In fact, someone working a 40-hour week on the federal $7.25 minimum wage can’t afford to rent a “modest” two-bed apartment in any state in the country, according to the report. And renters would need to make more than three times the minimum wage to afford a two-bedroom apartment.

In other words, renters would need to work a 122-hour week for all 52 weeks of the year – or work three full-time jobs in order to afford a modest two-bedroom rental home. For a one-bedroom, renters would need to work 99 hours per week throughout the year.

The most expensive state is Hawaii, where workers would need an hourly income of $36.13 to afford rent, in contrast to the state’s average hourly wage of $16.16. Arkansas is the least expensive state at $13.84 – not including Puerto Rico at $9.24 – where workers would need to make $13.84 an hour, while the average hourly wage is $13.05.