Real Estate Rumblings

The incredible shrinking house: Houston homeowners and renters face the space crunch

Doubling up as Houston homeowners and renters face the space crunch

Algarita Apartments Austin
Houstonians are pretty cramped. Algarita Apartments/Facebook

Feeling cramped? There's a reason. In a recent study, real estate website Trulia found that renters — especially those with children — have less space than they did several years ago.

Trulia looked at U.S. Census Bureau's 2014 American Community Survey data to determine the number of needed bedrooms based on children and married couples in the family. Married couples together only need one bedroom, while non-married adults as well as children were assumed to each need one bedroom. Households with fewer bedrooms than non-married adults or children are considered to suffer the “space crunch.”

In the nation’s biggest metro areas, 14.7 percent of households had fewer bedrooms than family members, an increase of half-a-percentage point since 2009. The study showed that renters with kids are especially cramped, and the larger and pricier the metro, the more likely renters are tight on space. Trulia found that just 8.1 percent of nationwide homeowners are tight on space, versus 26.4 percent of households who rent.

Contrary to the national trend, a few major Texas metros, including Houston and Dallas, posted a bigger drop among space-crunched renters compared to homeowners. 

In the Houston metro area, a total 17.5 percent of residents had a space crunch in 2014. For families who own a home in Houston, 11.1 percent have fewer rooms than the household size would necessitate for comfortable living. In comparison, 28.8 percent of renters have fewer bedrooms than needed. While the percentage of homeowners lacking space has remained constant since 2009, the percentage of renters without ample rooms dropped .3 percentage points. 

Austin, Fort Worth, and San Antonio, on the other hand, are consistent with the national trend, where more renting households are sharing bedrooms than they did in 2009. In Austin, 22.8 percent of renting households have fewer bedrooms than they need, up 2.4 percentage points since 2009 — the highest increase in Texas by far. 

While space is seemingly getting worse for renters in Austin, Fort Worth, and San Antonio, the share of cramped renters in Houston and Dallas has dropped more significantly between 2009 and 2014 than the share of cramped homeowners. Still, almost 30 percent of Houston and Dallas renters are bunking up, which sounds like a tight squeeze.