Top 15 Cities With the Largest Millennial Renter Wage Gap

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Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on Filterbuy.

Rising rents have hit households hard over the last year. After remaining flat amid eviction moratoriums and government assistance programs in 2020, rents grew by 17.6% in 2021 and by another 6.7% over the first seven months of 2022. And in a period of persistent inflation, costs for housing are squeezing renters’ budgets for other areas of their household spending.

But even before the recent spike in rents, the gap between what a typical rental costs and what the typical worker can afford based on their income has been growing.

Amid stagnant wages for workers, especially low-income earners, and a nationwide shortage of housing stock, renters are finding it more difficult than ever to secure affordable housing. A recent report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition found that the typical renter today needs to earn $21.25 per hour to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment.

Current challenges in the rental market are also being experienced differently across generations. Members of the millennial generation — currently aged 26 to 41 — are at an age when most people buy their first or second home.

But rising costs of rents and real estate have compounded other financial difficulties faced by the millennials, like lost earning potential after the Great Recession and historically high levels of debt. Now, 27.2% of millennials in the U.S. are renters, a larger proportion than any other generation.

To determine the locations with the largest millennial renter wage gap, researchers at Filterbuy calculated the percentage difference between the median wage for millennial renters and the median wage necessary to afford a one-bedroom rental without spending more than 30% of wages on rent.

Here are the U.S. metropolitan areas with the largest millennial renter wage gap.

15. Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, TN

Kevin Ruck / Shutterstock.com
  • Millennial renter wage gap: -22.9%
  • Millennial renter median wage: $33,508
  • Annual wage needed to afford a 1-bedroom rental: $43,440
  • Median 1-bedroom rent: $1,086
  • Percentage of millennials in rented housing: 26.0%

14. Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO

Denver, Colorado
f11photo / Shutterstock.com
  • Millennial renter wage gap: -26.4%
  • Millennial renter median wage: $41,885
  • Annual wage needed to afford a 1-bedroom rental: $56,880
  • Median 1-bedroom rent: $1,422
  • Percentage of millennials in rented housing: 28.7%

13. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA

Downtown Seattle
Mark Payne / Shutterstock.com
  • Millennial renter wage gap: -27.3%
  • Millennial renter median wage: $47,120
  • Annual wage needed to afford a 1-bedroom rental: $64,840
  • Median 1-bedroom rent: $1,621
  • Percentage of millennials in rented housing: 31.7%

12. Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade, CA

California Capitol building in Sacramento
SnapASkyline / Shutterstock.com
  • Millennial renter wage gap: -28.1%
  • Millennial renter median wage: $36,649
  • Annual wage needed to afford a 1-bedroom rental: $50,960
  • Median 1-bedroom rent: $1,274
  • Percentage of millennials in rented housing: 30.1%

11. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL

Tampa, Florida
kevin-j-king / Shutterstock.com
  • Millennial renter wage gap: -28.6%
  • Millennial renter median wage: $32,147
  • Annual wage needed to afford a 1-bedroom rental: $45,000
  • Median 1-bedroom rent: $1,125
  • Percentage of millennials in rented housing: 27.3%

10. Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH

Boston skyline summer day.
Danica Chang / Shutterstock.com
  • Millennial renter wage gap: -31.6%
  • Millennial renter median wage: $49,738
  • Annual wage needed to afford a 1-bedroom rental: $72,680
  • Median 1-bedroom rent: $1,817
  • Percentage of millennials in rented housing: 30.5%

9. Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA

Portland skyline
Jon Bilous / Shutterstock.com
  • Millennial renter wage gap: -33.8%
  • Millennial renter median wage: $37,173
  • Annual wage needed to afford a 1-bedroom rental: $56,160
  • Median 1-bedroom rent: $1,404
  • Percentage of millennials in rented housing: 30.4%

8. Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA

Riverside, California
MattGush / Shutterstock.com
  • Millennial renter wage gap: -34.5%
  • Millennial renter median wage: $31,414
  • Annual wage needed to afford a 1-bedroom rental: $47,960
  • Median 1-bedroom rent: $1,199
  • Percentage of millennials in rented housing: 24.6%

7. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA

The skyline of San Jose, which has a lower median rent than median mortgage payment
stellamc / Shutterstock.com
  • Millennial renter wage gap: -36.1%
  • Millennial renter median wage: $68,063
  • Annual wage needed to afford a 1-bedroom rental: $106,520
  • Median 1-bedroom rent: $2,663
  • Percentage of millennials in rented housing: 35.2%

6. New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA

Luciano Mortula LGM / Shutterstock.com
  • Millennial renter wage gap: -36.9%
  • Millennial renter median wage: $45,026
  • Annual wage needed to afford a 1-bedroom rental: $71,360
  • Median 1-bedroom rent: $1,784
  • Percentage of millennials in rented housing: 34.0%

5. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA

San Francisco neighborhood.
Bertl123 / Shutterstock.com
  • Millennial renter wage gap: -37.4%
  • Millennial renter median wage: $62,827
  • Annual wage needed to afford a 1-bedroom rental: $100,400
  • Median 1-bedroom rent: $2,510
  • Percentage of millennials in rented housing: 35.0%

4. Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL

Orlando, Florida
songquan-deng / Shutterstock.com
  • Millennial renter wage gap: -38.1%
  • Millennial renter median wage: $30,366
  • Annual wage needed to afford a 1-bedroom rental: $49,080
  • Median 1-bedroom rent: $1,227
  • Percentage of millennials in rented housing: 29.9%

3. San Diego-Carlsbad, CA

Dancestrokes / Shutterstock.com
  • Millennial renter wage gap: -39.9%
  • Millennial renter median wage: $41,885
  • Annual wage needed to afford a 1-bedroom rental: $69,720
  • Median 1-bedroom rent: $1,743
  • Percentage of millennials in rented housing: 34.2%

2. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL

Miami, Florida
littleny / Shutterstock.com
  • Millennial renter wage gap: -40.0%
  • Millennial renter median wage: $31,414
  • Annual wage needed to afford a 1-bedroom rental: $52,320
  • Median 1-bedroom rent: $1,308
  • Percentage of millennials in rented housing: 30.1%

1. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA

Los Angeles neighborhood in San Fernando Valley
trekandshoot / Shutterstock.com
  • Millennial renter wage gap: -49.5%
  • Millennial renter median wage: $36,649
  • Annual wage needed to afford a 1-bedroom rental: $72,560
  • Median 1-bedroom rent: $1,814
  • Percentage of millennials in rented housing: 35.6%

Methodology

Family talking to a lawyer or real estate agent about estate planning
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The data used in this analysis is from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 ACS PUMS (American Community Survey Public Use Microdata Sample) 5-Year Estimates. To determine the locations with the largest millennial renter wage gap, researchers at Filterbuy calculated the percentage difference between the median wage for millennial renters and the median wage necessary to afford a one-bedroom rental without spending more than 30% of wages on rent.

For the purpose of this analysis millennials are defined as those aged between 24-39 (in 2020). In the event of a tie, the location with the higher median one-bedroom rent was ranked higher. To improve relevance, only metropolitan areas with at least 100,000 residents and complete data available were included. Additionally, metros were grouped into cohorts based on population size: small (100,000–349,999), midsize (350,000–999,999), and large (1,000,000 or more).