In an interesting study reported in the Washington Post, the National Low Income Housing Coalition looked at fair market rents across the country and calculated how much a worker would have to make per hour to live in a decent one-bedroom apartment. The study included rent plus utilities, and was based on a 40-hour work week, 52 weeks/year.
They came up with amounts — per county — a person would have to earn per hour to be able to afford a decent one-bedroom apartment in that county. This is called the “housing wage.”
The minimum wage is currently $7.25/hr. Not surprisingly, there is no single county in America that has a housing wage under the minimum wage. (There are a few counties in Arkansas that come close, at around $7.98/hr.) When you look at these numbers, you can understand why single parents often try to rent one-bedroom places, and give the children the bedroom while they sleep on the couch. They work minimum wage jobs and just cannot afford a bigger space.
Here in metro Indianapolis, that “housing wage” is about $12/hr., which is fairly attractive. I’d definitely take a pass on San Francisco, however … you’d have to earn about $30/hr. (i.e., $62,000/yr!) to afford a one-bedroom decent apartment there.
If you’d like to check out the entire article, here’s the link:
Every county in American is included, so if you’re planning a move, you may want to read this before you pack your bags!