Do you think you pay too much rent? Almost half of Merced County renters do, according to a new report.
Five of the top 10 worst major U.S. cities for renters are in California, according to an Apartment List survey that compares rent to income. Renters who pay 30 percent or more of their income for housing are considered cost-burdened, and the report ranks cities by their percentage of cost-burdened renters.
About 49.1 percent fit that demographic in 2016, and 24.9 percent "were severely cost-burdened" by spending half of their income on rents, the report says.
The report wasn't all bad news. The average cost for rents in Merced in 2016 were 1.7 percent lower than pre-Recession numbers, the report said, and the average income has grown by 9.7 percent in that time.
Merced resident Kiesha Redus said rent could be a burden, so she took steps to avoid paying it. "That’s why we bought. It was the best thing for our situation," she wrote on Facebook. "If you’re able to buy, do it."
Other Merced Sun-Star readers were more pointed. “Rent in Merced is ridiculous,” Cheryl Hendricks wrote.
Merced has notoriously low vacancy rates for rental properties, according to local real estate brokers, driving up costs.
Rent is even higher in other parts of the state.
Fresno, Oxnard, Riverside, Los Angeles and San Diego made the top 10 list for major metropolitan areas with the highest shares of cost-burdened renters. In a surprising twist, San Francisco and San Jose rank farther down the list.
“Despite being the most expensive metro in California, San Francisco (#71) actually has the lowest share of cost-burdened renters, due to the high number of well-paid high-income renters, and the fact that many of the lower-income renters have already been pushed out of the metro,” said Sydney Bennet, the study’s author.
The Apartment List study found that the share of cost-burdened renters actually dropped in 2016 to its lowest level since 2008. Despite this, nearly half of all U.S. renters – 49.7 percent nationwide – still pay too much income in rent, the study reports. One in four renters pay more than 50 percent of their income for housing.
Big cities in California and Florida have the largest shares of cost-burdened renters, along with smaller cities in the South. But bigger cities in the South, along with communities in the Rust Belt and Midwest, are more affordable for renters.
Miami, Florida, has the highest share of cost-burdened renters, at 62.8 percent, while Ogden, Utah, has the lowest at 37.9 percent.
In Fresno, 60.5 pecent of renters are cost-burdened, ranking it second on the list of worst U.S. major metropolitan areas for renters. In Oxnard, it’s 58.3 percent, making it No. 3, and in Riverside it’s 58.2 percent, ranking No. 4. In Los Angeles, 58 percent of renters are cost-burdened, making it No. 6 on the list and in San Diego, 57 percent are cost-burdened, making it No. 7.
About 48.3 percent of San Jose renters are cost-burdened, while 46.8 percent of San Francisco renters are cost-burdened.
Sacramento fares less well but stays out of the top 10 with 54.6 percent of renters being cost-burdened, coming in at No. 16, one spot below Bakersfield. For smaller California cities, the study shows 58.2 percent of Modesto renters are cost-burdened, Merced has a 49.1 percent share of cost-burdened renters and San Luis Obispo comes in at 47.6 percent.