Real Estate

Recent College Grads Can Afford Only 2 Percent of Miami's Rental Market

Daniel Zimmermann via Flickr Creative Commons
There comes a point in life when you grow tired of living in six-person apartments, swatting flies from the leftover pastelitos your roommate left congealing on the table, and cleaning up after the feral cats your other housemate insists on bringing into your tiny space. For a huge number of people, that desire comes right after college ends.

But according to data that real-estate site Trulia released last week, a scant 2.2 percent of Miami's rental market is affordable to recent college graduates. That statistic should unite both affordable-housing advocates and the city's Republican political class, which is hellbent on attracting young tech and science graduates to turn Miami into more than just a tourism-and-real-estate town.

According to Trulia, Miami's relative lack of affordability for young, ostensibly middle-class college kids ranks eighth-worst in America, behind Los Angeles; Bridgeport, Connecticut; San Diego; Boston; and Cape Coral/Fort Myers, Florida. (A few of the cities on the list, such as Fort Myers, are mostly retirement communities, which explains why college kids aren't their target rental demographic. The same cannot be said for Miami.)

"For new graduates, one option is to move back home: increasingly, young adults are living with their parents, especially if they don’t have a job," Trulia's researchers wrote online. "For others, though, the post-college launch often starts with relocation: 31 percent of recent college grads moved to a new home in the past year, compared with 11 percent of adults overall. These educated young adults are particularly prone to move for a job or a job search. Whereas just 1.4 percent of all adults moved in the past year to take or look for a new job, 6.2 percent of young college grads did — that’s more than four times the rate of adults overall."
Trulia's study adds to the pile of research that shows Miami's über-expensive real-estate market is unremittingly cruel to young people. For the past three years, the Magic City has led the nation in the number of young people living with their parents. And that number is actually increasing. Miami is also consistently ranked one of the least affordable cities for millennials in general and as having one of the worst job markets for millennials in the nation.

Oh, and home prices are so expensive that ownership is also all but unattainable for recent grads.

Thanks to interference from the county's powerful class of billionaire developers and lobbyists, who are open about the fact they can make more money by selling fourth homes to Saudi oil barons than they can by selling modestly priced units to biology majors, the city is not building anywhere near the number of affordable housing units it should. Trulia's study confirms, yet again, this takes an economic toll on the town: Cash-squeezed college grads can't start new businesses, spend money at restaurants, or, in many cases, afford health care. Plus, they have student debt to deal with.

The silver lining is at least college grads tend to be mobile and able to at least hunt for jobs elsewhere. As the Miami Herald illustrates today, the city's ridiculous combination of high rents, weak unions, awful traffic, and crappy public transit has created a system in which 80 percent of Miami Beach's hospitality workers live far from town. Many are forced to wake up at 4:30 a.m. and commute anywhere from two to four hours per day on county buses in order to scrub hotel rooms or fold towels for eight to 12 hours, only to take a bus home at 7 or 8 at night. One woman the Herald profiled says she gets only two hours of family time after work each night before having to go to bed to start her day all over again. It's hell.

At least college grads aren't trapped in that particular capitalist nightmare? No, it's impossible to draw silver linings from any of this. Miami needs much more affordable housing.
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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.

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