Single People Need to Make at Least $29 an Hour to Afford Rent in Houston, According to Zillow

Single People Need to Make at Least $29 an Hour to Afford Rent in Houston, According to Zillow
Zillow interactive map

If you're single and renting in Houston, you better be gettin' those dolla dolla bills, yo. About $29 an hour, in fact.

According to a new interactive map and study from the real estate gurus at Zillow, single-earners need to make about $29.56 per hour in order to afford the median rental price in Houston.

And households with two incomes in the Houston-Sugarland-Baytown vicinity? Well, both adults would each need to make an hourly wage of at least $14.76 in order to afford the median rental prices in the metro area.

So what that means is that for the average rental property -- not the super amazing, fancy-schmancy bellhop-and-rooftop-pool rental -- you'd need to be pulling in an annual salary of about $61,901 to pull it off without a Top Ramen and canned tuna diet.

So that means, according to Zillow's math, single teachers who work in HISD, where the salaries start at around $49,100, would be banished to rental properties that fall below the median.

Same with most HPD officers -- salaries start in the high $30s, and average about $55,000 a year -- or your average administrative assistants, office managers, lab techs, government employees, civil servants, and so on and so forth.

It's even slightly cheaper to live in Dallas. The single earner only needs to make about $28.46 an hour in the Big D to live the average renter life.

Yep, this all hurts our little rent-hating hearts too.

But while that $30 hourly income may seem exorbitant to the average Houston renter, imagine how dire things must seem for the folks making the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. The folks at the bottom end of the wage scale pretty much can't afford rent anywhere, Houston or otherwise, if you believe Zillow.

You see, Zillow says there's a rule of thumb renters should follow: Rent should not exceed 30 percent of your monthly income. Some other financial and housing groups agree. But while that 30 percent rule may be best practice, for most people, it's not feasible. One in three Americans now live in a market where rent for a three-bedroom home requires much more than 30 percent of their monthly income, according to RealtyTrac.

The income percentage spent on rent is generally much higher in markets like San Francisco or New York, where it's not uncommon to spend about 60 percent of your monthly income on rent, according to the site.

That higher percentage trend is also seen in areas with high numbers of low income residents, such as Philadelphia or Baltimore. According to RealityTrac, a large portion of residents in these cities are paying out nearly half of their income in rent.

So ultimately, that 30 percent guideline, while ideal, is certainly not always the norm. Just take single-earners who pull in the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, for example. They can't afford a typical rental property in any of the almost 15,100 cities and towns Zillow analyzed, according to the study, and they've got to live somewhere. So chances are those folks are doling out a much higher percentage of their income on rent.

But should they add in a rental partner who also earns the federal minimum, it still won't exactly make things affordable, according to Zillow.

Two minimum wage-earner households can only afford to rent in a mere 135 cities and towns nationwide without exceeding the 30-percent-on-rent threshold. That constitutes less than 1 percent of the places analyzed, and pretty much limits minimum wage earners to places in the Midwest or the deep South.

And it really knocks Houston out of the running for low wage workers. A wage of $7.25 an hour is light years away from the $29.56 an hour Zillow says is necessary to make ends meet for the average single renters in this city.

But at least we're not Austin and Round Rock, which Zillow says requires about $32.66 an hour for the single renter. That metro area is the only one more expensive than Houston in the state of Texas, according to Zillow.

Still, we'd take Austin's prices over Fisher Island, Florida, which would require an hourly wage of $234.42, or an annualized income of $468,840, to afford the median rent of $14,765 per month.

Not to mention you'd have to live in Florida. And let's be realistic. No one wants to do that.


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