Real Estate

Miami Has the Most "Cost-Burdened" Renters in America, Study Says

Two things Miamians are tired of: paying exorbitant amounts of money for rent, and hearing New Times complain about it. Nary a week goes by without some real-estate analyst looking at the 305's housing prices and collapsing with an aneurysm.

This week, the analysts turned their attention to Miami's renters — and the news is not good. This city's renters, in fact, are struggling the most to pay rent compared to anyone else in the nation

The real-estate website Abodo analyzed which cities have the most "cost-burdened" renters — that is, the most residents burning more than 30 percent of their income on rent. If you've ever had the joy of signing a rental lease in the Magic City, the following info won't surprise you: The website says Miami tops the nation "by a wide margin."

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development warns that people shouldn't spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing, but Abodo says 64 percent of Miamians are stuck living "cost-burdened" lives. Cost-burdened renters typically struggle to afford food, utilities, childcare, education, and most other basic living expenses.

According to Abodo, the Miami-Fort Lauderdale metro area is the only place where more than 60 percent of renters blow this much on rent. Honolulu came in at number two, with 59 percent of its residents living cost-burdened lives. Daytona Beach; Riverside, California; and Los Angeles rounded out the top five.

All of the top 19 cities "had at least 54 percent of their renters spending more than 30 percent of their income on rent, but Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach took the lead by a wide margin," Abodo wrote. "Almost 64 percent of its renters — the vast majority of whom earn less than $35,000 per year — are cost-burdened. (If we remove our population limits, however, and consider all metropolitan areas, Atlantic City rises to the top with an incredible 65.54 percent of its renters cost-burdened.)"

Abodo also broke down each city's housing-affordability issues by income: In Miami, 93 percent of people making less than $20,000 per year and 92 percent of residents earning under $35,000 are cost-burdened. But even 71 percent of people making less than $50,000 a year still report spending too much on rent, which shows that affordability issues are seriously baked into our way of life here.

And studies have shown that Miami's high-end-condo culture is eating away at people who don't make six figures (i.e., most of us). Seventy-five percent of people of color in Miami report having almost no savings, thanks in large part to the prices they pay for rent.

But if you want to avoid renting, Miami is also the most difficult place in America to apply for a mortgage, and the cities of Miami and Miami Beach are the most expensive areas in America to buy a first home. Not surprisingly, we have more young people living with their parents than any other U.S. city.

But the people doing well here really don't seem to care about other people's problems: If you've got the cash, it's easy to just hole up in a multistory condo, bolt down your windows, and — if you live in Aventura or Sunny Isles Beach — make sure the county government doesn't let those gross middle-class folks live near you.

Miami is even debating putting its most cost-burdened in shipping containers, which pretty much says everything about the way this city's housing market is set up.
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Jerry Iannelli is a former staff writer for Miami New Times from 2015 to March 2020. He graduated with honors from Temple University. He then earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.