Texas Fares Well in Rent Affordability, Study Shows

Texas fared well in a study of the best U.S. cities to live in based on the percentage of income spent on rent.

RENTCafé, a leading nationwide apartment search website which helps renters more readily find affordable housing throughout the nation, analyzed U.S. Census Bureau figures for 100 of the nation’s largest cities and then compared actual median income to rent figures to determine how much money renters kept in their wallets after paying for monthly housing. They noted, ideally, rent should reflect at most 30 percent of one’s income.

Based on Census Bureau statistics, the Texas cities of Plano and Irving scored favorably, each with 25 percent rent burdens. Dallas and El Paso came in at 29 percent, while San Antonio and Austin tied at 30 percent. Houston, Corpus Christi, Fort Worth, and Garland spilled slightly over the 30 percent rent burden mark. Their leasing households faced a 31 percent rent burden. Arlington, Lubbock, and Laredo, with successive 32, 33, and 36 percent rent-to-income burdens, left renters with less pocket change.

The study also revealed a troubling nationwide trend–median rents chewed up between 30 and 49.9 percent of median income in more than two thirds of the nation’s biggest cities. The worst was Hialeah, FL, with a 57 percent rent-to-income burden.

RENTCafé also looked at where renters had the most and least money after paying rent. Plano ranked fourth among U.S. cities where households gross rent equaled $14,676 and renters held onto $43,259 over a year. Conversely, Hialeah median-income earners found themselves with a meager $9,649 after shelling out $12,708 in a year’s rent.

RENTCafé then reviewed “hypothetical” income, those dollars a household needed for their median rent to reflect exactly 30 percent threshold. To calculate, they relied on median rents from sister company Yardi Matrix, which reports on 50-plus multifamily unit rentals across 124 major U.S. housing markets. They removed from the equation any communities that are part of a regulated affordable housing program or benefit from government subsidies.

Three north Texas cities–Plano, Irving, and Garland–emerged in the top 15 best U.S. cities for renters. Plano’s median income was $10,700 above the amount of money needed to avoid a rent burden. Irving came in $6,800 over the rent burden, and Garland was up by $4,500.

RENTCafé actually ranked the Phoenix suburb of Gilbert as the number one city for renters under this metric because their median household income was $17,400 above the minimum amount needed to avoid a rent burden. Nearby Arizona cities Chandler and Scottsdale followed. Bakersfield was the lone California contender; its household income exceeded rent by $6,400. Two Nevada cities, North Las Vegas and neighboring Henderson, Oklahoma’s Tulsa and Oklahoma City, Wichita, KS; Fort Wayne, IN; Columbus, OH; and Virginia Beach, VA, made this list.

The rental search firm noted that pricey San Francisco when benchmarked solely on Census Bureau figures ranked favorably with only a 27 percent rent burden. However, with government housing subsidy programs removed, RENTCafé calculated the Northern California city “now slid closer to the troublesome end of the list with median income accounting for just 54 percent of what would be needed to escape rent burden.” Analysts named it fourth on the 15 worst U.S. cities for renters list. RENTCafé placed six other California cities on this list — Oakland, San Jose, Los Angeles, Long Beach, Santa Ana and San Diego.

Manhattan, NY, where median income lagged behind the dollars needed to comfortably afford rent, ranked the worst. The average renter would have to earn $88,100 more for the median rent to take up only 30 percent of the median income. Boston, Brooklyn, Jersey City, Miami, Chicago, Washington, D.C.; and Hialeah, also placed among the 15 worst U.S. cities for renters.

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