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News / City Life

Not making $64,000 a year? You might be rent-burdened

Chicago skyline
Photograph: CC/Flickr/Alaina Buzas

If you’ve ever felt like too much of your take-home pay is going toward rent, chances are it is. Renters would need to make a minimum of $64,000 a year to live in a market-rate apartment in Chicago and not be faced with an excessive rent burden, according to new data from apartment information service Yardi Matrix.

The company defines a “rent burden” as any apartment that eats up more than 30 percent of a household’s income. In Chicago, renters face a 34 percent rent burden, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. When you consider median income, that means that the average Chicagoan is left with only about $23,000 (after you subtract the cost of rent) to make ends meet.

RENTCafé, a sister company of Yardi Matrix, says the median income for renter-occupied households in Chicago is just over $35,000. That’s just 55 percent of what the company says is needed to afford a market-rate apartment in the city and still live comfortably. The nationwide apartment search website adds that most people renting today end up choosing market-rate apartments because access to rent-controlled or subsidized housing is limited.

Compared with large U.S. cities, Chicago ranked 16th in household income needed to afford a market rate apartment. Here are the 15 cities that finished ahead of Chicago.

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