Too Damn High

How much do Houstonians spend on rent? New study reveals staggering numbers

How much do Houstonians spend on rent? Numbers staggering

Houston, Highrise apartment views_May 2015, west alabama apartments.
Nearly half of Houston renters spend too much of their income on rent. Photo by

Is Houston rent too damn high? A new report from Apartment List reveals that nearly half of Houston renters are "cost-burdened," meaning they spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent.

Apartment List analyzed U.S. Census data from 2007-2014 and found that Houston has the 12th lowest share of cost-burdened renters among the 50 cities examined.

Just under 50 percent — 49.7 percent to be exact — of Houston renters were cost-burdened in 2014. That burden actually decreased from 50.4 percent in 2007 and is below the national average of nearly 52 percent.

Apartment List notes that Houston has fared better than other cities such as Miami, where 66.2 percent are cost-burdened and Los Angeles (61.7 percent), as our median income has also increased over time.

The report warns that any cost burden — especially a severe one — can hinder renters from transitioning to homeownership and preparing for the future. "Most personal finance experts recommend allocating 20-30 percent of income for rent, around 5 percent on healthcare, and around 10 percent for savings; high rents are likely eating into funds that should be set aside for health emergencies, the down payment on a home, or a retirement fund." 

A recent study from Zillow echoes Apartment List's warning. The listing website says that renters who spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent make major cuts in other important areas like savings, healthcare, and retirement plans.