Real Estate

Miami Is the Most Rent-Burdened City in America, Study Says

Paradise comes at a steep price.
Paradise comes at a steep price. Photo by joiseyshowaa / Flickr
Another week, another study telling us what we already know about Miami's housing affordability crisis: The rent is too damn high, and residents of the Magic City are more burdened by rental costs than those of any other U.S. city.

An analysis by Apartment List shows 62.7 percent of renters in Miami are cost-burdened, the highest percentage of the nation's 100 largest metro areas. Nearly 34 percent of Miami renters spend half of their income or more on housing.

Apartment List, a rental listing company, analyzed rental cost-burden rates — defined as the percentage of renters who spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing — using data from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

Nationally, the housing affordability metric has moved in the right direction over the past few years, but it recently "took a U-turn," according to Igor Popov, a chief economist with Apartment List. There were 229,000 more cost-burdened renter households in 2018 than there were in 2017 in the United States. That figure has increased by 2.8 million since 2008.

"They aren't able to afford the place where they live," Popov says. "At that point, things get really tough."

Florida leads the nation in housing unaffordability, the study shows. The Sunshine State has the highest cost-burden rate, with 56.5 percent of renters spending 30 percent or more of their income on housing.

In Miami, keeping a roof over your head can mean staying in your parents' home longer than desired or living with a revolving door of roommates. It also means competing for housing against millionaires and billionaires.

"We actually see a large rise in the number of high-income renters," Popov says. "Now more than ever, people with six-figure salaries and higher are much more likely to be in the rental market as they used to."

Popov says many of these high-income renters are either uninterested or unable to own homes.

"That puts pressure on the rental market and pressure on affordability," he says.

With Miami-area housing prices rising faster than wages, renters are already pressed — making a measly median income of $41,558 in 2018. The Apartment List study also looked at whether a household making the median renter income could comfortably afford the median rent, which was $1,360 in Miami in 2018. Miami scored poorly on that metric too: The analysis shows a household making the median renter income would need to spend 39.3 percent of that income to afford the median rent.

If you, a median renter, want to live in a city where you can comfortably afford the median rent, you'll have to move to Dallas, Phoenix, Charlotte, St. Louis, or Minneapolis.
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Alexi C. Cardona is a former staff writer at Miami New Times.