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Get Cozy: Walls Are Closing in on Today's Renters

Renters could have afforded a unit 225 square feet larger for the same monthly rent just five years ago - about the size of two more bedrooms

SEATTLE, April 11, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- It's not just your imagination; renters are getting less bang for their buck these days. U.S. renters have to squeeze into homes 15 percent smaller than they would have five years ago to keep their monthly payment the same, according to a new HotPads® analysis.

That's 225 square feet less space – equivalent to losing a 14-by-16-foot living room, or nearly two 10-by-12-foot bedrooms.

The median U.S. rent is currently $1,530 and the median size of a rental unit is 1,260 square feet. In 2014, that same $1,530 monthly rent payment would have on average secured a rental that was 1,485 square feet, providing 225 square feet of extra space.

Rent affordability has improved marginally over the same time period – the share of income spent on rent fell from 29.2 percent in early 2014 to 27.7 percent in late 2018, according to Zillow's rent affordability data. But while incomes have grown fast enough to allow the typical renter to better afford their rent payment, the space available to them at that price has decreased over the past five years.

"Cities across the country have seen incredible rent growth in the past five years while new construction has gotten smaller, leading renters to look for units with less and less space to stay within their budgets," said HotPads Economist Joshua Clark. "With space at such a premium, it's no wonder that minimalism and decluttering practices made popular by Marie Kondo have grown such a large following among today's renters. Taking advantage of amenities offered in the common areas of many newer buildings can help ease these space constraints – for example, entertaining guests on the rooftop deck or exercising in a fitness center if space is tight in your bedroom or living room."

This shrinking effect was the most pronounced in Sacramento, San Francisco and San Jose, Calif., among the 50 largest rental markets in the country – these markets also experienced the biggest rent price appreciation over the past five years. A renter paying the current median rent payment in each of these markets could have found a unit with at least 475 square feet more space in 2014, more than the size of a typical studio apartmenti.

Typical renters in Baltimore, Virginia Beach, Washington, D.C., and Oklahoma City would have had to downsize the least. Renters in these areas lost less than 100 square feet, little more than the size of a small kitchenii.

A previous HotPads analysis found that renters in Las Vegas and Raleigh can expect to get the most space for their money, while Denver and Boston renters were at the bottom of that list. Price per square foot typically tracks closely with rent prices, which experienced years of growth after the economic recovery and are once again on the rise, according to the HotPads Q1 2019 Rent Report.

HotPads is a Zillow® Group-owned apartment and home search platform for renters in urban areas across the United States. For more information on the U.S. rental market, visit HotPads.com.

Metropolitan Area

Median Rent –
2019

Median Square Footage –
2019

Potential
Square Footage
– 2014iii

Square Footage
Lost

United States

$1,530

1,260

1,485

225

New York, NY

$2,375

1,115

1,270

155

Los Angeles-Long Beach-
Anaheim, CA

$2,955

1,250

1,630

380

Chicago, IL

$1,785

1,105

1,255

150

Dallas-Fort Worth, TX

$1,685

1,460

1,795

335

Philadelphia, PA

$1,685

1,215

1,370

155

Houston, TX

$1,585

1,520

1,715

195

Washington, DC

$2,175

1,220

1,315

95

Miami-Fort Lauderdale, FL

$2,030

1,205

1,445

240

Atlanta, GA

$1,485

1,490

1,890

400

Boston, MA

$2,420

1,070

1,295

225

San Francisco, CA

$3,535

1,220

1,710

490

Detroit, MI

$1,300

1,090

1,285

195

Riverside, CA

$1,980

1,550

1,960

410

Phoenix, AZ

$1,515

1,500

1,935

435

Seattle, WA

$2,245

1,145

1,545

400

Minneapolis-St Paul, MN

$1,695

1,100

1,300

200

San Diego, CA

$2,730

1,160

1,505

345

St. Louis, MO

$1,205

1,080

1,200

120

Tampa, FL

$1,485

1,255

1,555

300

Baltimore, MD

$1,745

1,215

1,290

75

Denver, CO

$2,120

1,015

1,370

355

Pittsburgh, PA

$1,110

1,200

1,345

145

Portland, OR

$1,945

1,195

1,605

410

Charlotte, NC

$1,400

1,365

1,685

320

Sacramento, CA

$1,995

1,385

1,880

495

San Antonio, TX

$1,390

1,350

1,570

220

Orlando, FL

$1,540

1,420

1,775

355

Cincinnati, OH

$1,240

1,215

1,410

195

Cleveland, OH

$1,210

1,250

1,415

165

Kansas City, MO

$1,260

1,150

1,350

200

Las Vegas, NV

$1,440

1,530

1,900

370

Columbus, OH

$1,460

1,200

1,455

255

Indianapolis, IN

$1,240

1,290

1,450

160

San Jose, CA

$3,710

1,200

1,675

475

Austin, TX

$1,755

1,245

1,470

225

Virginia Beach, VA

$1,485

1,395

1,485

90

Nashville, TN

$1,510

1,300

1,610

310

Providence, RI

$1,780

1,175

1,440

265

Milwaukee, WI

$1,385

1,150

1,265

115

Jacksonville, FL

$1,405

1,380

1,615

235

Memphis, TN

$1,050

1,430

1,560

130

Oklahoma City, OK

$1,125

1,245

1,340

95

Louisville-Jefferson
County, KY

$1,140

1,080

1,270

190

Hartford, CT

$1,665

1,225

1,345

120

Richmond, VA

$1,460

1,290

1,490

200

New Orleans, LA

$1,450

1,200

1,340

140

Buffalo, NY

$1,295

1,510

1,795

285

Raleigh, NC

$1,485

1,535

1,785

250

Birmingham, AL

$1,055

1,280

1,420

140

Salt Lake City, UT

$1,625

1,125

1,385

260

HotPads
HotPads is an efficient rental search platform for urban areas across the United States, with features designed for competitive markets such as map-based search, real-time notifications and detailed information on landlords and property managers that help renters spend less time searching and more time feeling excited about their next home.

Launched in 2005, HotPads is based in San Francisco and is owned and operated by Zillow Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:Z and ZG).

HotPads is a registered trademark of Zillow, Inc.

i Source: https://www.yardimatrix.com/About-Us/Our-Methods/Terminology
ii
Source: https://www.homeadvisor.com/cost/kitchens/remodel-a-kitchen/#small
iii
Calculated using the 2019 median rent price and 2014 price per square foot in each area

Cision

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