Houston residents shelled out a shocking $90 billion on rent in the past decade

Houstonians shelled out a shocking $90 billion on rent in past decade

Downtown Houston skyline
Houston rents have risen 65.8 percent in the past decade. Photo by Shobeir Ansari, Getty Images

Many Houstonians are burdened by the cost of rent right now, but when you consider how much Houston renters have collectively paid in this decade, the reality becomes even more painful.

From 2010 through 2019, renters in the Houston area shelled out $90.4 billion for their living quarters, according to an analysis released December 11 by real estate website Zillow. To put that in perspective, that total is close to the size of the economy in the Dominican Republic.

If the $90.4 billion figure weren’t jarring enough, the total sum of rent paid by Houstonians skyrocketed 65.8 percent from 2009 to 2019. In 2019 alone, Houston renters spent $10.8 billion on housing, up 1.7 percent from 2018. 

Fortunately, there might be some relief in sight.

“With rental appreciation expected to decrease in the coming year and a homeownership rate that has been ticking up over the past few years, a small or even negative change in total rental spending could be in the cards in the early 2020s,” Zillow economist Joshua Clark says in a release.

Notably, the current median rent in Houston is $1,385 per month, down 0.6 percent from a year ago, according to Zillow.

Elsewhere in Texas, Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, and San Antonio weren’t immune to the costly leap, the Zillow analysis shows.

The total sum of rent paid by Austinites jumped 92.6 percent from 2009 to 2019. That’s the highest increase among all the major metro areas included in the Zillow analysis. (Raleigh, North Carolina, was second with a 91 percent increase.)

From 2010 through 2019, renters in the Austin area spent $36.7 billion for their living quarters, about the size of the economy of Latvia, a small country in northern Europe.

In DFW, the rent total shot up 83.7 percent over a 10-year span, landing at $104.2 billion in 2019, Zillow says. By comparison, the size of the Puerto Rican economy is nearly $100 billion. This year alone, DFW renters forked over $13.2 billion, up 3.2 percent from 2018, according to Zillow.

Renters in the San Antonio area saw a smaller overall jump in the rent total compared with Austin, DFW, and Houston. From 2010 through 2019, renters in the area spent $26.8 billion on housing, accounting for a 10-year increase of 47.8 percent, the analysis shows. That sum is roughly equivalent to the size of Cambodia’s economy. This year, San Antonio renters paid $2.9 billion, down 0.4 percent from 2018, Zillow says.