Miami Rents Cost Nearly $7,000 More per Year Than Historic Average, Study ShowsEXPAND
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Miami Rents Cost Nearly $7,000 More per Year Than Historic Average, Study Shows

New Times howls, roughly once a week, about how expensive Miami is for the vast majority of its residents. But rarely is the city's affordability data placed into historic context, likely leaving many people to wonder whether the city's spiraling rents are really that much worse than they've ever been. "Sure, it's expensive to live in Miami, but it always has been," you say. "Quit yer bellyaching."

Well, it turns out making ends meet here really is way harder than it's ever been: The rental analytics website Zillow today released yet another analysis that shows how landlords are draining the wallets of Miami residents. This time, Zillow calculated the average "pre-housing-boom" rent in America's largest cities from 1985 to 2000. The website then compared that data with what residents in various cities pay today, and, boy, are those results upsetting.

From 1985 to 2000, before the so-called housing boom of the mid-'00s inflated housing costs and then sent them crashing back down, Miamians spent roughly 28.5 percent of their income on rent. Now, postboom, residents spent 41 percent — close to half their income.

By Zillow's count, that means the typical Miamian spends $6,741 more per year just to not be homeless. Good thing everyone has that spare $7,000 sitting in their bank accounts for a rainy day.

“In most markets, current renters are at a disadvantage compared to years past because paying the rent takes up a much larger share of their income than it did before,” Zillow Chief Economist Svenja Gudell said in a news release. “For many people, that can mean less cash to put toward paying off student debt, building an emergency fund, or saving for retirement. For those hoping to buy a home, it could be a significant part of their down payment. For parents, it could mean additional childcare or a family vacation. This is another example of how much worse rent affordability has gotten.”

As one might expect, other pockets of unaffordability, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York, also fared poorly. Angelinos plunk 48 percent of their income down on housing costs, but costs there were high in the '80s and '90s already. No other metro area had quite as high a percentage jump as Miami.

In fact, the Magic City's rise in those rankings is nothing short of terrifying. Pre-boom, Miami residents spent roughly the same portion of their income on rent as folks living in Baltimore, Pittsburgh, San Antonio, and Tampa. But those cities were able to keep costs down: In fact, it's actually become more affordable to live in Pittsburgh over time thanks in large part to that city's thriving economy and relative lack of real-estate investors driving up property value.

The final question, of course, is how long will the status quo remain sustainable? In the past three months alone, rents spiked 13 percent in Little Haiti and Gladeview, historically low- and middle-class areas of Miami populated with immigrants of color. At a certain point, the rent cycle will break. Let's hope that happens by choice rather than by accident.

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