For renters in big cities, the typical pay only covers a 300-square-foot apartment

  • The typical renter in Boston, Manhattan and Brooklyn can afford a 300-square-foot apartment, based on paying 30 percent of median income on housing.
  • Renters in Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia and Miami can afford a bit more breathing room, with median pay able to cover a 400-square-foot rental.
  • Gilbert, Arizona and Plano, Texas are among only 5 urban areas where the typical renter can afford an apartment larger than 1,000 square feet.

Paging Marie Kondo

You’re going to need the organizational superstar’s skills if you want to move to one of America’s biggest cities and live within your means. Using the rule of thumb to pay no more than 30 percent of income on housing, the typical renter in Boston, Manhattan or Brooklyn can only afford 300 square feet, according to a recent analysis from apartment-search website RentCafe.

At the other end of the scale, Gilbert, Arizona, Plano, Texas and Tulsa Oklahoma were among the areas where a typical income can cover an apartment with more than 1,000 square feet, the analysis of the 100 biggest  U.S. urban areas found.

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Rents are rising because of higher demand from millennials looking for a place of their own, strong job growth and rising wages. Over the last two decades, there’s been a steady rise in the number of rental households paired with a decline in homeownership rates. In March, the U.S. median rent climbed 3.4 percent from a year earlier to $ 1,535, according to data from online rental housing portal HotPads, the Associated Press reported

Those trends have boosted the number of renter-occupied U.S. housing units rose from a low of 32.9 million in 2004 to a high of about 44.08 million in 2016. Last year, the number of renter-occupied U.S. housing units stood at 43.11 million, according to Census data. The homeownership rate has declined from a high of 69 percent in 2004 to 64.4 percent last year. 

RentCafe calculated its findings using data on average rents from Yardi Matrix and median monthly renter household income for each metropolitan area from the U.S. Census bureau.

Here’s where spending 30 percent of your income gets you the least and most space, represented in square feet:

  • Brooklyn – 265
  • Boston – 266
  • Manhattan – 290
  • Los Angeles – 333
  • Oakland. California – 340
  • Philadelphia – 368
  • Chicago – 370
  • Cleveland – 372
  • Jersey City, New Jersey – 372
  • Detroit – 376


  • Gilbert, Arizona – 1,174
  • Plano, Texas-  1,137
  • Virginia Beach – 1,077
  • Chandler, Arizona – 1,069
  • North Las Vegas, Nevada – 1,033
  • Henderson, Nevada – 995
  • Oklahoma City – 973
  • Wichita, Kansas – 965
  • Tulsa, Oklahoma – 960
  • Scottsdale, Arizona – 924

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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