Rent calculator: Are you paying more than everyone else?


Nearly one in five people between the ages of 18 and 34 is now “severely burdened” by their rent, according to a new report.

The figures come from Enterprise Community Partners (ECP) an affordable housing finance group working to address the fact that rents have ballooned since the Great Recession, while wages have stagnated.

And more young adults are getting hit than any other age group.

As of 2013, an estimated four million of them, or 19 percent of their ranks, were spending at least 50 percent of their income on rent, the lower bound of ECP’s “severe” definition.

That compares with the national average of 10 percent, and represents a 4-point increase from 2007. The rate for young adults is highest in Hawaii at 29 percent, followed by California, New York, and Florida at 23 percent. Utah and South Dakota are lowest at 11 percent.

The findings are not surprising. Between 2006 and 2013, inflation-adjusted incomes for 18-34 year-olds declined 1 percent to $26,309, while their average inflation-adjusted rents increased 5 percent to $943.

“That’s a cohort that came of age, that came out of college, with significant student debt and weak job prospects,” said Andrew Jakabovics, senior director of policy development and research at Enterprise Community Partners.

This age group also had the misfortune of starting their natural entry into the rental market just as older cohorts were forced into it, thanks to the housing crash, Jakabovics said. That has caused rents in the U.S. to rise almost unabated since the end of the recession and trouncing the rate of inflation, which continues to trend downward. Indeed, although young adults have the largest share of severely burdened renters, their ranks climbed at a slower rate between 2007 and 2013 than 50- to 64-year-olds, whose severely burdened share grew 50 percent during the period.

“There’s been more competition in the rental market than ever before,” he said.

So, where do you stack up? Fusion compiled its own set of Census data to bring you our latest calculator. It will show you what vigintile of 18- to 34-year-old renters you fall in.

Of course, how much you’re paying in rent also has a lot to do with where you’re living. So we also showed what you can get in the two cities most representative of the ends of the rent spectrum, New York and Detroit.

Check it out.


For the rent percentiles, we used 2013 American Community Survey data retried from the Census’ Dataferrett tool and searched monthly rent data in the 18-34 year-old age range. We recoded the data into units of 25 to get 20 approximately equal rent brackets.

For the New York and Detroit data, we simply looked at recent, real Craigslist listings in each city (Manhattan for New York) for each of the 20 rent range brackets.

From Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Portugal and the UK we bring together skills in infographics, illustration, video, 3D, UX, game design, programming and above all a love of storytelling.

Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.

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