Seattle Rents Still a Stretch for Minimum Wage Earners

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Zillow

Posted on April 29, 2013 at 12:00 PM

A room of one’s own is good, and an apartment or house is even better – if you can afford the rent.

How tough is that to pull off in Seattle for hourly-wage earners?

Seattle offers workers the highest minimum wage in the nation at $9.19, but that doesn’t mean it’s a snap to find affordable rentals. Seattle’s minimum wage is higher, but so are its rents.

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, fair market rent for a two-bedroom home in the Emerald City is going to run you $1,104 a month. Even at the higher minimum wage, that’s more than two full-time workers can afford, if you factor in the basic equation that one-third of your income should go toward your housing costs.

A look around the nation shows that minimum wage rates vary along with housing costs, making for unique affordability dynamics in each rental or housing market.

For instance, in Florida, the state minimum wage is $7.79 an hour. That might be enough for a two-income family earning the minimum wage to swing a two-bedroom apartment in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area, where the average rent for a 2-bedroom apartment is $874. However, it would be a squeeze in Fort Lauderdale, where the average fair market rent for a 2-bedroom apartment is $973, and Miami, where the rent jumps to $1,122 a month.

Things get a lot tougher to afford in California, where the statewide minimum wage is $8 an hour. To afford a 2-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles, where the fair market rent is $1,421 a month, it would take about three roommates making the minimum wage to be able to support a rent that high, assuming that a renter should only spend 30 percent of their monthly income.

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