Miami Is the Least Affordable City in America For the Middle-Class, Study Finds

They can be truly hard to find in Miami, always lost between the film crews chasing Kardashian sisters to their next luxury club, the Russian oligarchs loudly racing Brazilian expats in souped up Lotuses, and the parade of art-collecting billionaires snapping up property in Fisher Island.

But Miami does have a middle class! They just don't have an easy time of it. In fact, between housing and transportation costs, Miami is the single toughest place in all the nation to be a middle-class resident, according to a new study.

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"Increased demand for rental housing combined with insufficient new production has raised rents," says Jeffrey Lubell, executive director of the Center for Housing Policy, "while households with blemished credit and existing homeowners with underwater mortgages have been unable to take advantage of lower home prices."

Lubell's study looked at the combined costs of housing and transportation for the 25 biggest metro areas in the country and found that in general, both had risen by 44 percent since 2000 without a corresponding bump in income.

That trend tends to squeeze the middle class hardest of all, the center says. And nowhere has that been more true than in Miami.

Middle-class households in Dade spend a staggering 72 percent of their income on transportation and housing costs, the study found.

That's the highest share of income in the nation, followed by Riverside, California (69 percent) and Tampa (66 percent.)

What's more, in Miami those costs have jumped by 47 percent since 2000, while incomes have risen only 21 percent.

It doesn't help that Miami not only has an expensive housing and rental market, but that it's tough for most residents to get around without a car, necessitating ever more cash for gas, car payments and repairs.

"Both housing and transportation costs need to be made more affordable," the center's President and Co-Founder Scott Bernstein writes.

The most affordable towns for average income families include D.C., Minneapolis and Boston.

Don't worry, though, Miami families. All you need to do is become famous via an Internet sex tape, star in an endless series of reality television shows, make billions of dollars and -- viola! -- Miami becomes a very easy place to live indeed.

(Check out the full report here. H/T to South Florida Business Journal.)

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