5 Cities Where You Must Earn 6 Figures to Make Rent

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It takes an income of about $216,000 per year to afford a two-bedroom apartment in one U.S. city these days -- and it's not New York.

It takes an income of about $216,000 per year to afford a two-bedroom apartment in San Francisco these days.

That’s according to a new analysis from SmartAsset, which says it “zeroed in on the main cities within the 15 largest metro areas.”

SmartAsset found that in five of the nation’s 15 largest cities, it takes a six-figure salary to afford a two-bedroom apartment.

By “afford,” the financial website means being able to pay for a two-bedroom apartment at fair market rent without spending more than 28 percent of your income on housing expenses.

That percentage is based on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s definition of “affordable housing,” which states that, in general, occupants should not spend more than 30 percent of their income on gross housing costs, including utilities.

San Francisco was the most expensive city in the analysis. Smart Asset says:

While rental rates have increased in recent years, wages haven’t kept up. The median household income in the city is only $78,378.

Other key findings of the analysis include:

  • Market rents are going up. In only three of the 15 largest cities did average rental rates fall between 2015 and 2016. Even in those three cities, rates dropped by less than 1 percent.
  • Rates are rising fastest in the Southwest. From 2015 to 2016, rent increased at the fastest rates in Los Angeles, Phoenix and Dallas.

Here’s how much SmartAsset found you must earn to afford a two-bedroom apartment in the 15 cities:

  1. San Francisco: $216,129
  2. New York City: $158,229
  3. Los Angeles: $145,629
  4. Boston: $120,900
  5. Washington, D.C.: $119,271
  6. Seattle: $98,271
  7. Miami: $90,300
  8. Chicago: $76,071
  9. Philadelphia: $65,100
  10. Dallas: $62,700
  11. Atlanta: $62,614
  12. Houston: $58,971
  13. Riverside, California: $53,100
  14. Phoenix: $49,800
  15. Detroit: $37,971

In Detroit, the average two-bedroom apartment rents for $886 per month, but that is still a 7.7 percent increase from last year.

For help with your own rent, check out “10 Ways to Save Big on Renting Your Next Home” and “To Buy or Rent? How to Find the Answer to That Million-Dollar Question.”

What’s your take on rent rates in big cities? Sound off in our Forums. It’s the place where you can speak your mind, explore topics in-depth, and post questions and get answers.

Stacy Johnson

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