Real Estate Data for the Rest of Us

Spin Cities: Where Renters Pay The Most For In-Unit Washers and Dryers

Doing laundry sucks and having to go to a Laundromat each week sucks even more. But the hassle may outweigh the added cost of having an in-unit washer and dryer, depending on where you live. In Philadelphia, renters pay a 20% premium to have laundry within their rentals, while those in Dallas-Fort Worth pay a 3% premium.

Mark Uh
June 16, 2015

Summer is coming. But instead of spending the endless days of the season lounging by a pool, many renters will inevitably spend a portion of their days hauling laundry down the block or across town to their local Laundromat.

Here at Trulia, we (and your landlord) know that having an in-unit washer and dryer is a coveted amenity that often ranks high on renters’ list of must-haves. But just how much extra in rent are you likely to pay each month to not have to collect quarters or haul your skivvies down the street for the world to see?

Trulia took a spin through the large multi-family buildings listed for rent on its site and found that across 13 top metro areas, in-unit washers and dryers command a 10% per month premium on average.

Those living in Philadelphia pay the biggest premium for in-unit laundry to the tune of 20%, or $211 extra in monthly rent. Those living in Seattle pay 4%, about $29 more in rent each month to avoid having to brave the rain with their laundry baskets in tow.

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Where Renters Must Pay The Highest Premiums for an In-Unit Washer Dryer *
U.S. Metro(click on hyperlinks below to access interactive neighborhood maps) Average  % Rent Premium Average $ Rent Premium % of Multifamily Rentals Listed as Having a Washer / Dryer Median Year Built Median Rent
Philadelphia 20% $211 48% 1965 $1200
Los Angeles 17% $325 26% 1987 $2095
San Francisco 14% $245 35% 1979 $2620
Boston 14% $255 36% 1956 $2000
Chicago 11% $168 56% 2001 $1796
New York 10% $175 20% 1958 $2100
Houston 9% $139 36% 2001 $1450
Washington 8% $133 58% 1996 $1750
San Diego 8% $118 37% 1986 $1750
Atlanta 7% $73 33% 2000 $1200
Miami-Fort Lauderdale 5% $79 42% 1990 $1650
Seattle 4% $29 41% 1994 $1495
Dallas-Fort Worth 3% $33 26% 2002 $1200
*Please note that the washer/dryer premium in this study refers to the premium one must pay in order to live in an apartment that has a private washer/dryer within the unit. This premium does not apply to units that do not have a washer/dryer in-unit but do have communal washers/dryers on building premises.

The Down and Dirty On Laundry Costs

Anyone who has rented an apartment without laundry knows that it takes time, energy and a lot of quarters to get your clothes clean. Even if there are Laundromats within walking distance of your apartment, carrying 10lbs of laundry can be burdensome.

In large cities, wash and folds (places that do your laundry for you) cost around $1.00 per pound of laundry. Assuming that you do 10lbs of laundry per week, you will spend $40 per month. If you opt for cheaper, coin-operated machines, at $3 a load you’ll pay a least $12 a month.

If you live in Seattle or Dallas-Fort Worth, renters could be better off renting a unit with a washer and dryer because the costs of doing laundry offsite are similar to the washer/dryer premium in those metros. In the other metros listed, however, you’ll pay anywhere from $73 to $325 extra, so renters on a budget will have to weigh the inconvenience of having to go to the Laundromat over the cost savings.

Sprawled out metros such as Philadelphia and Los Angeles likely have a greater washer/ dryer premium, because the distance from most apartments to the nearest Laundromats will be farther away. Metros where the cost of goods and living is more expensive (and presumably laundry services are more expensive) such as New York, San Francisco, and Boston also have high premiums.

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Washer/Dryer a Must-Have Amenity? Start The Search Cycle In these Suds-Friendly Neighborhoods

Have you decided that having laundry in your apartment is worth the added premium? Below are some helpful maps showing renters which ZIP codes have the highest percentage (shown in dark green) and lowest percentage (shown in light green) of large apartment buildings with washer and dryers in-unit. Click on the maps to be taken to an interactive city map showing where you’ll find the highest percent of in-unit apartment washers and dryers.

PhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaNeighborhoods with the highest % of in-unit washer/dryer: Conshohocken, Manayunk, Northern Liberties, Callowhill

Neighborhoods with the lowest % of in-unit washer/dryer: Overbrook Farms, Millbourne, Walnut Hill 

Los AngelesLosAngelesNeighborhoods with highest % of in-unit washer/dryer: Santa Monica, Pasadena, Studio City, Little Tokyo, Skid Row, Arts District

Neighborhoods with lowest % of in-unit washer/dryer: Woodland Hills, View Park–Windsor Hills, Wilshire Center, Koreatown

San FranciscoSanFranciscoNeighborhoods with the highest % of in-unit washer/dryer: Inner Richmond, Laurel Heights, Lone Mountain, South Beach

Neighborhoods with the lowest % of in-unit washer/dryer: Twin Peaks, Diamond Heights, Glen Park

BostonBostonNeighborhoods with highest % of in-unit washer/dryer: Downtown, South End, Mission Hill, South Boston

Neighborhoods with lowest % of in-unit washer/dryer: Fenway/Kenmore, Allston/Brighton, Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan

ChicagoChicagoNeighborhoods with the highest % of in-unit washer/dryer: West Loop Gate, The Loop, River North, South Loop

Neighborhoods with the lowest % of in-unit washer/dryer: Roseland, South Chicago, South Austin, Garfield Park

New York NewYorkNeighborhoods with the highest % of in-unit washer/dryer: Midtown West, Lenox Hill, Tribeca, Hudson Square, SoHo

Neighborhoods with the lowest % of in-unit washer/dryer: Greenwich Village, West Village, Midtown East 

HoustonHoustonNeighborhoods with the highest % of in-unit washer/dryer: South Main, River Oaks, Fourth Ward, Westbury, Willow Meadows

Neighborhoods with the lowest % of in-unit washer/dryer: Gulfgate-Pine Valley, Greater East End, Magnolia Park, Afton Oaks

District of Columbia DCNeighborhoods with the highest % of in-unit washer/dryer: Shaw, LeDroit Park, Capitol Hill, Arlington – Clarendon

Neighborhoods with the lowest % of in-unit washer/dryer: Southwest Waterfront, Fort Dupont, Shepherd Park

San DiegoSanDiegoNeighborhoods with the highest % of in-unit washer/dryerScripps Ranch, Mission Valley, Mission Valley East, Torrey Highlands, Rancho Pentasquitos

Neighborhoods with the lowest % of in-unit washer/dryer: Barrio Logan, Kensington, Normal Heights, University Heights, El Cajon

AtlantaAtlantaNeighborhoods with the highest % of in-unit washer/dryerNorthLake, Sandy Springs, Lindridge-Martin Manor, Lindbergh

Neighborhoods with the lowest % of in-unit washer/dryer: Redan, Lithonia, Union City, Atlanta University area

Miami MiamiNeighborhoods with the highest % of in-unit washer/dryer: Downtown, Dodge Island, Virginia Key, Upper East Side, Morningside, Edgewater

Neighborhoods with the lowest % of in-unit washer/dryerBrownsville, Allapatttah, Coral Way, Miami Shores, El Portal

Seattle SeattleNeighborhoods with the highest % of in-unit washer/dryerWoodinville, Cottage Lake, Kingsgate, Totem Lake

Neighborhoods with the lowest % of in-unit washer/dryer: Canyon Park, Pioneer Square, West Lake, South West Union

Dallas DallasNeighborhoods with the highest % of in-unit washer/dryerLos Colinas, Broadmoor Hills, Deep Ellum, Castlemere, Willow Bend, Breckenridge Park

Neighborhoods with the lowest % of in-unit washer/dryer:
Southwestern District, Grand Prairie, University Park, Downtown

Methodology

Data is sourced from the Zillow Group rental listing database. We looked just at units in multi-family apartment buildings for rent between September 2014 and February 2015. For each metro area, the listings were split into quartiles based on the age of the building. We then took the difference between the median rent of apartments that have a washer/dryer and apartments that do not have a washer/dryer in order to obtain the ($) premium for each quartile. We averaged these ($) premium figures in order to obtain the average ($) premium for each metro.

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An Economist Goes House Hunting

Trulia’s new chief economist shares her take on today’s housing market and how she looked at the numbers and weighed her options as she searched for a place to call home San Francisco.

Hello everyone. My name is Selma Hepp, Trulia’s new Chief Economist. I am thrilled to now be a part of Trulia’s housing economics research team. Over the years, I’ve admired the prolific and creative insights that Trulia has uncovered about the housing market and I’m excited to build on the great work that has already been done.

I’m joining Trulia at an exciting time for the company and at a point of transition for the housing market. Home prices, sales, and new construction have been bouncing back over the past five years, and in some markets have outpaced their growth during the boom. In the beginning, investors propped up most of this growth, but now key economic fundamentals like job growth and household formation are driving the recovery. While this is great news for the economy, it’s actually a double-edge sword for the average house hunter: as home values improve, affordability worsens. In fact, housing affordability is one of the most pressing housing issues right now, and one of the key themes that I want to explore on the Trulia Trends blog in addition to inequality, and how major demographic shifts are impacting homeownership.

Trulia will continue to publish new research that will help house hunters understand which trends really matter, such as: Can I really afford a home in this neighborhood? What’s it like to live in this neighborhood? Where can I find my dream home? What compromises do I need to make?  At the same time, I will follow all the major housing policy decisions and key industry reports– from home prices, sales, new construction starts, mortgage rates and job growth – and help house hunters translate what’s happening and how it will impact them. If you have a question or want to talk through story ideas, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me by email (selma@trulia.com) or Twitter (@SelmaHepp).

My Journey Home
When I accepted the position as Trulia’s Chief Economist, I immediately started my home search. The new job meant a long distance move from Los Angeles to the San Francisco Bay Area.

Buying a home typically takes 18 months. San Francisco is a notoriously expensive place for renters and buyers. The going median rent in the metro area is $3,500 which is actually $400 more than metro New York. Median prices, similarly, are well above a million dollars. The caveat, again, is actually finding a home that suits ones needs given the Bay Area’s notoriously tight supply of homes for sale. In the most desirable locations, the inventory supply is barely approaching two months. To put this into context, a more balanced housing market would require about seven months of homes for sale. But I’m not discouraged – inventory has been on an upswing and has improved over the last year.

Fortunately, I was able to find a sublease for a studio apartment in North Beach for three months – which would give me some time to really get to know the city and consider other locations around the Bay Area (many of my friends and colleagues suggested that I check out Oakland). But for now, I’m in love with my new home. In the coming months, I plan on soaking in all that San Francisco has to offer as I think about new ways of helping home buyers, sellers, and renters understand the housing market – all while enjoying my new view.

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Gayborhood Watch: How Home Prices Have Changed in America’s Gayest Neighborhoods

Of the gayest neighborhoods in America, most are more expensive than other neighborhoods in their metro area, but some have grown even more expensive than others.

Three years ago, we explored how the housing market fared in the gayest neighborhoods across the country. One of the most interesting findings from that report was that gay men tended to live in more expensive ZIP codes than gay women, even when looking at ZIPs within the same metro. In honor of Gay Pride this year, we wanted to revisit these neighborhoods and find out what’s changed since 2012.

To do this, we calculated the share of households that are same-sex male couples and same-sex female couples in every ZIP code in America using the 2010 Census (see note below on how we did this). Focusing on just the top 10 ZIPs with the highest concentration of same-sex male and same-sex female couples, we then calculated the median price per foot of homes for sale in each ZIP code on Trulia as of June 1, 2015 and compared it to June 1, 2012 to find out how prices have changed, both over time and relative to their metropolitan area.

Home Prices Higher and Growing Faster Where Gay Men Live
In June of 2012, homes in gay men neighborhoods cost $188 per square foot, which is $55 more expensive than in gay women neighborhoods. Since then, gay men neighborhoods have gone on a tear – becoming $81 per square foot more expensive.

Over the last three years, home prices in gay men neighborhoods have grown by an average of 23%. Of course, this figures mask changes in individual neighborhoods, so here’s a look at where prices have risen the most.

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Where Gay Men Neighborhoods Are Getting More Expensive

# ZIP Code Median Price Per Foot, Jun 2012 Median Price Per Foot, Jun 2015 % Change Price Per Foot, Jun 2012-Jun 2015
1 92262Palm Springs, CA $158 $260 65%
2 94131Noe Valley / Glen Park / Diamond Heights, San Francisco, CA $522 $768 47%
3 92264Palm Springs, CA $174 $240 38%
4 48069Pleasant Ridge, suburban Detroit, MI $137 $188 37%
5 94114Castro, San Francisco, CA $699 $948 36%
6 90069West HollywoodLos Angeles, CA $611 $802 31%
7 75219Oak Lawn, Dallas, TX $185 $225 22%
8 33305Wilton ManorsFort Lauderdale, FL $249 $292 17%
9 19971Rehoboth Beach, DE $193 $203 5%
10 02657ProvincetownCape Cod, MA $604 $616 2%
Average for all Gay Men Neighborhoods $188 $238 23%
Note: Only zip codes with at least 1000 persons are included in the analysis. Average growth rate is weighted by number of gay households, so the listed percentage increase is different than the simple percentage change between average price per foot in 2012 and 2015. Data in this report are different from our report in June 2012 because of new MSA definitions and observed time period of listings (month vs. previous year in the June 2012 report)

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 Where Gay Women Neighborhoods Are Getting More Expensive
# ZIP Code Median Price Per Foot, June 2012 Median Price Per Foot, June 2015 % Change Price Per Foot, June 2012-June 2015
1 94619Redwood Heights / Skyline, Oakland, CA $237 $389 64%
2 30002Avondale Estates, suburban Atlanta, GA $114 $173 52%
3 02130Jamaica Plain, Boston, MA $303 $414 37%
4 94114Castro, San Francisco, CA $699 $948 36%
5 95446Guerneville, north of San Francisco, CA $270 $335 24%
6 01060Northampton, MA $197 $216 10%
7 19971Rehoboth Beach, DE $193 $203 5%
8 01062Northampton, MA $190 $196 3%
9 02657ProvincetownCape Cod, MA $604 $616 2%
10 02667WellfleetCape Cod, MA $326 $323 -1%
Average for all gay women neighborhoods $133 $157 18%
Note: Only zip codes with at least 1000 persons are included in the analysis. Average growth rate is weighted by number of gay households, so the listed percentage increase is different than the simple percentage change between average price per foot in 2012 and 2015. Data in this report are different from our report in June 2012 because of new MSA definitions and observed time period of listings (month vs. previous year in the June 2012 report)

 

Home Price Growth Outpaces Metro Area Where Gay Women Live
Several gayborhoods are located in expensive metros that have also experienced sharp price gains in the last few years, such as San Francisco and Boston. So it could be that rising home prices in these neighborhoods are driven by price changes in their respective housing market, rather than the demand to live in gayborhoods themselves. To tease out these neighborhood-level effects, we’ve compared prices in these gayborhoods with their respective metro areas.

As it turns out, home prices in almost all of the gayborhoods that we look at in this study are more expensive than their metros as a whole. For example, homes in the Castro neighborhood of San Francisco cost $948 per square foot – which is 34% more expensive than the San Francisco metro area ($705 per square foot), while places like West Hollywood, CA and Provincetown, MA are 123% and 119% more expensive, respectively. The only gayborhood that isn’t more expensive than its respective metro is Guerneville, north of San Francisco, CA, which is only 2% cheaper per square foot than its metro area.

Home Prices in Gay Men Neighborhoods vs. Wider Metro Area

# ZIP Code Median Price Per Foot,Jun 2015 Median Price Per Foot of Metro,Jun 2015 Gayborhood Premium, Jun 2015 Difference in Price Per Foot Growth Relative to Metro, Jun 2012 – Jun 2015
1 92262Palm Springs, CA $260 $173 50% 13% points
2 19971Rehoboth Beach, DE $203 $153 33% 5% points
3 94131Noe Valley / Glen Park / Diamond Heights, San Francisco, CA $768 $705 9% -1% points
4 48069Pleasant Ridge, suburban Detroit, MI $188 $122 54% -6% points
5 33305Wilton ManorsFort Lauderdale, FL $292 $158 85% -10% points
6 92264Palm Springs, CA $240 $173 39% -12% points
7 75219Oak Lawn, Dallas, TX $225 $119 89% -12% points
8 94114Castro,
San Francisco, CA
$948 $705 34% -13% points
9 02657ProvincetownCape Cod, MA $616 $281 119% -19% points
10 90069West HollywoodLos Angeles, CA $802 $360 123% -26% points

Interestingly, when we compare price growth in these neighborhoods to their metro area, gay women neighborhoods have outperformed their gay men neighborhood counterparts. Even though neighborhoods with the most gay men are more expensive, a larger number of gay women neighborhoods (six) have outpaced their metro areas than gay men neighborhoods (two). And not only have prices in more gay women neighborhoods grown faster than their metro, they have grown by a larger amount.

For example, prices in gay women neighborhoods like Avondale Estates in Atlanta, Jamaica Plain in Boston, and Northampton in West Massachusetts have grown 35%, 28%, and 11% points faster than their metro area. On the other hand, the top two fastest growing gay men neighborhoods have only grown 13% (Palm Springs, CA) and 5% (Rehoboth Beach, DE) points faster than their metro, and the third (Noe Valley / Glen Park / Diamond Heights, San Francisco, CA) actually lost one percentage point.

Home Prices in Gay Women Neighborhoods vs. Wider Metro Area

# ZIP Code Median Price Per Foot,Jun 2015 Median Price Per Foot of Metro,Jun 2015 Gayborhood Premium, Jun 2015 Difference in Price Per Foot Growth Relative to Metro,Jun 2012-Jun 2015
1 30002Avondale Estates, suburban Atlanta, GA $173 $96 80% 35% points
2 02130Jamaica Plain, Boston, MA $414 $243 70% 28% points
3 01060Northampton, MA $216 $140 55% 11% points
4 94619Redwood Heights /Skyline, Oakland, CA $389 $373 4% 7% points
5 19971Rehoboth Beach, DE $203 $153 33% 5% points
6 01062Northampton, MA $196 $140 41% 1% points
7 94114Castro,
San Francisco, CA
$948 $705 34% -13% points
8 02667Wellfleet,
Cape Cod, MA
$323 $281 15% -13% points
9 95446Guerneville,north of San Francisco, CA $335 $341 -2% -18% points
10 02657Provincetown,
Cape Cod, MA
$616 $281 119% -19% points

So why the discrepancy in price growth between same-sex male and female neighborhoods? A couple of reasons. First, the top gay men neighborhoods are places where prices were already high relative to their metros, and thus were not hit as hard during the housing crash as other less expensive neighborhoods within their respective metros. Second, gay women couples are 2.4X as likely to have children than gay men couples, so it could be that gay women seek up-and-coming neighborhoods with good schools to raise their children. Nonetheless, all of these neighborhoods are likely to be full of pride during the month of June, and not just because of strong price gains.

(The fine print: The Census doesn’t ask sexual orientation, of course, so the only way to measure gay neighborhoods is based on where couples live. The Census data requires some corrections and adjustments, described here. Finally, ZIP codes don’t line up perfectly with neighborhoods, but we did our best to use the closest neighborhood names that correspond to the ZIP codes in our analysis.)

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Pads for Grads: Where the Newly Educated Can Afford Rent

Of the largest 25 largest rental markets, less than 19% of all rental listings on the market are affordable for recent college graduates. The most affordable places to live for recent grads include St. Louis, Dallas, and Houston, while the least affordable are Portland, Riverside, and Orange County.

School is (nearly) out for the summer. That means millions of newly-minted college graduates will strike out on their own to find a job and place to live. Here at Trulia, we’re experts in the latter, so we’ve set out to help new grads find areas where they can afford to rent and still have some money left over to pay back their student loans.

We measure graduate affordability as the share of rental homes on Trulia, as of May 7, 2015, that are within reach of an employed, college graduate between the ages of 22 and 25. Our standard is whether the total monthly payment, including rental payment and insurance, is less than 31% of the metro area’s median income for recent grads. We calculate affordability based on the local median graduate income and rents for the 25 largest rental markets in the US. Thus, what we consider affordable for a graduate varies from market to market.

For instance, in metro Atlanta, the median salary for a new grad is $25,571 per year. If you’re only making this much money, then you can only rent homes that cost less than $661 per month based on the 31% guideline. Sadly, this means just 8.7% of the homes for rent in Atlanta (those listed for less than $661) are within reach.

Want To Pay Less In Rent? Move Inland
Generally, the picture isn’t pretty for recent grads who want to find an affordable place on their own. Those who head to the Midwest and Southern states can save the most on rent. But even in St. Louis, which tops the list of most affordable metros for new grads, just 18.6% of rental units are affordable. And it’s all downhill from there: with the next most affordable areas having less than 15% of affordable rental units. The good news is, you would need no more than one roommate to make the median rental unit affordable in each of five least expensive metros for grads.

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Top 5 Most Affordable Rental Markets for Recent Grads
# U.S. Metro % of rental units affordable to recent college grads Max monthly rent payment for an affordable unit # of roommates needed to make median rental affordable Median # of bedrooms
1 St. Louis, MO 18.6%  $666 0.3 2
2 Dallas, TX 14.9%  $799 0.5 2
3 Houston, TX 10.4%  $746 0.7 2
4 Atlanta, GA 8.7%  $661 0.5 2
5 Phoenix, AZ 8.0%  $613 0.7 2
Note: Of 25 largest rental markets. We count any fraction of a roommate needed as a whole person for purposes of making rent affordable. For example, to not break the 31% affordability criteria, a recent grad in St. Louis, MO would need at least 1 roommate to make the median rent affordable. Income estimates are inflation-adjusted to 2015 dollars and originate from the 2013 American Community Survey for college educated graduates between the ages of 22 and 25. Download the full dataset for the 25 largest U.S. rental markets here.

Go West Young Grad? Only If You Can Pay More
If you plan to head to the West Coast after graduation, then you might want to take a crash course in sticker shock.  Less than 1% of all rental units in the bottom five are affordable, and almost all are in expensive California markets. Portland, OR ranks the least affordable with 0.1% of units affordable, followed by Riverside-San Bernardino, CA (0.2%) Orange County, CA (0.2%), Miami, FL (0.4%) and, San Diego, CA (0.4%).

So what’s a grad to do? Although it’s an exciting prospect to get a place of your own right out of college, the cost of doing so may be large. For those not wanting to live with Mom and Dad, there are two options: spend time searching for the few affordable units that are out there (Trulia can help out with that!), or find roommates.

To help with the latter, we’ve crunched the numbers to find out how many roommates a recent grad would need to afford rent, and whether that means sharing a bedroom. In the five least affordable rental markets, a recent grad would need at least two roommates to make the median rental unit affordable, and in Riverside-San Bernardino, CA, that number jumps to three. In all of the five least affordable markets except Riverside-San Bernardino, CA, this means that two individuals would need to share a room, just like during freshman year!

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Top 5 Least Affordable Rental Markets for Recent Grads
# U.S. Metro % of rental units affordable to recent college grads Max monthly rent payment for an affordable unit # of roommates needed to make median rental affordable Median # of bedrooms
1 Portland, OR 0.1%  $479 1.5 2
2 Riverside-San Bernardino, CA 0.2%  $426 2.3 3
3 Orange County, CA 0.2%  $666 1.9 2
4 Miami, FL 0.4%  $666 2.3 2
5 San Diego, CA 0.4%  $666 1.6 2
Note: Of 25 largest rental markets. We count any fraction of a roommate needed as a whole person for purposes of making rent affordable. For example, to not break the 31% affordability criteria, a recent grad in Portland, OR would need at least 2 roommates to make the median rent affordable. Income estimates are inflation-adjusted to 2015 dollars and originate from the 2013 American Community Survey for college educated graduates between the ages of 22 and 25. Download the full dataset for the 25 largest U.S. rental markets here.

SF-DC-NY: How Much Do You Really Need To Earn To Rent?
Want to live like a young professional and not like a fresh-faced graduate? You might want to think twice about moving to a high-wage metro. For recent college graduates looking to live comfortably, moving to a metro where the young and educated earn the most might be a tempting offer. After all, in San Francisco, Washington, DC, and New York, the starting salaries for recent graduates aren’t too far off from salaries of more experienced workers in other metros. These areas also have high rates of employment. So why not pack up and move to The City by the Bay, The District, or The Big Apple? Two words: high rents.

Many of the metros that pay the highest salaries also come with hefty rental price tags. Here’s a look at how grad salaries stack up to the salaries needed to afford median rents. So take notice recent grads, bigger isn’t always better – ‘cause that big salary may not seem so big after you start writing out that monthly rent check.

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Where Grads Need To Earn The Most To Afford Median Rents
# U.S. Metro Median Income for recent college grads Income Needed to Afford Median Rent Median Rent, May 2015
1 San Francisco, CA $41,244 $137,272 $3,500
2 New York, NY $32,995 $121,584 $3,100
3 Boston, MA $31,552 $98,052 $2,500
4 Miami, FL $25,778 $86,285 $2,200
5 Los Angeles, CA $25,778 $85,697 $2,185
6 Cambridge, MA $31,552 $82,363 $2,100
7 Washington, DC $37,120 $77,461 $1,975
8 Oakland, CA $27,841 $76,971 $1,963
9 Orange County, CA $25,778 $74,794 $1,907
10 Chicago, IL $25,778 $69,421 $1,770
Download the full dataset for the 25 largest U.S. rental markets here.

The Cliff’s Notes Of Rental Affordability
The lesson here for recent grads is that although it may be tempting to seek out metros with the highest wages, doing so may not necessarily lead to a better quality of life because these metros also have high rents.

Recent grads need to balance both wages and rents, so places like St. Louis, Dallas, and Houston, fit the bill for affordability. Although the percent of units in these areas that are affordable is under 19%, finding just one roommate is enough to make the median priced rental unit affordable. However, in places like Portland and Southern California, not only are affordable units few and far between, but it takes living in dorm-like quarters to make the median priced rental unit affordable.

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Where HOA Fees Make Renting Cheaper Than Buying a Home Visualization Preview

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Where HOA Fees Make Renting Cheaper Than Buying a Home

Nationally, buying with a traditional 20% down payment and 30-year mortgage is 35% cheaper than renting. But homeowner association (HOA) fees can make the decision more difficult in metro New York and Honolulu.

Homeownership remains cheaper than renting in all 100 largest U.S. metro areas. In fact, buying is 35% cheaper than renting now, compared with 33% cheaper one year ago. Paradoxically, home price growth nationally has outpaced rents over the past year. So what gives? Two things. First, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rate has fallen from 4.5% in 2014 to 3.87% today (as of April 15). Second, the 3.9% home price gain wasn’t much larger than the 3.7% gain in rents. In the past year, these two trends have made homeownership even more affordable compared with renting.

Trulia’s Rent vs. Buy Report assumes a traditional 30-year fixed rate mortgage with a 20% down payment. But for those looking to buy a home, apartment, or condo with homeowner association (HOA) fees, the extra cost could make renting a more attractive option.

Our method for calculating the total costs of buying and renting follows these steps:

  • We use our quality-adjusted measure of home prices and rents, which allows an apples-to-apples comparison between rental and owner-occupied housing units. For this report, we looked at all the homes listed on Trulia for rent or sale in March 2015.
  • We calculate the initial total monthly costs of owning and renting, including mortgage payments, maintenance, insurance, and taxes. We make a separate calculation that factors HOA fees into the rent vs. buy equation.
  • We calculate the future total monthly costs of owning and renting, taking into account expected price and rent appreciation, as well as projected inflation.
  • We factor in one-time costs and proceeds, including closing costs, down payment, sale proceeds, and security deposits.
  • We calculate net present value, which tells us the opportunity cost of using money to buy a house instead of investing it. Net present value is the worth in today’s dollars of a future stream of payments and proceeds, taking into account expected interest rates.

To compare the costs of owning and renting, we assume buyers get a 3.87% mortgage rate on a 30-year fixed-rate loan with 20% down; itemize their federal tax deductions and are in the 25% tax bracket; and will stay in their home for seven years. Under these assumptions, buying is 35% cheaper than renting nationwide, considering all costs and proceeds from buying or renting over the seven-year period. You can read our methodology here.

The interactive Rent vs. Buy map shows how the math changes under alternative assumptions for mortgage rates, income tax brackets, number of years in the home, and HOA fees, if any. To estimate HOA costs, we combed through Trulia’s for-sale listings and calculated the median homeowner’s fee for each of the 100 largest metro areas.

Trulia’s Rent vs. Buy Calculator lets you compare renting and buying costs using whatever assumptions about prices, rents, and other factors you want, including HOA fees. It uses the same math that powers our interactive map and this report.

Tougher Call between Renting and Buying in Honolulu and California
While homeownership is 35% cheaper than renting nationwide, the gap differs vastly across metros, largely because each market has its own typical prices and rents, as well as distinct patterns in property taxes and home-price appreciation. Taking all these factors into account, buying a home ranges from being 16% cheaper than renting in Honolulu to being 55% cheaper in Sarasota, FL.

Generally, it’s a closer call in California and an easier call in the South. What’s more, in seven of the 10 housing markets where buying has the smallest edge over renting, the buying advantage actually increased in the past year. On the other end of the spectrum, the buying advantage widened in six of the 10 markets where buying has the biggest edge. 

RentvsBuy_Map

Where Buying a Home is a Tougher Call

# U.S. Metro Cost of Buying vs. Renting (%), Spring 2015 Cost of Buying vs. Renting (%), Spring 2014 Difference (% points), 2015 vs. 2014
1 Honolulu, HI -16% -10% -7%
2 San Jose, CA -17% -11% -6%
3 Lancaster, PA -19% -16% -3%
4 Sacramento, CA -22% -22% 0%
5 San Francisco, CA -24% -17% -7%
6 Ventura, CA -25% -25% 0%
7 Los Angeles, CA -26% -24% -2%
8 Madison, WI -26% -24% -2%
9 Seattle, WA -26% -23% -3%
10 Modesto, CA -27% -32% 5%

 

Where Buying a Home is an Easier Choice

# Metro Cost of Buying vs. Renting (%), Spring 2015 Cost of Buying vs. Renting (%), Spring 2014 Difference (% points), 2015 vs. 2014
1 Sarasota, FL -55% -56% 1%
2 Fort Myers, FL -54% -52% -2%
3 Baton Rouge, LA -53% -50% -3%
4 New Orleans, LA -52% -53% 1%
5 Miami-Fort Lauderdale, FL -50% -52% 2%
6 Columbia, SC -50% -46% -4%
7 Chattanooga, TN -50% -45% -5%
8 Oklahoma City, OK -50% -46% -3%
9 Charleston, SC -49% -45% -4%
10 Tampa, FL -49% -49% 0%
Note: Negative numbers mean that buying costs less than renting. For example, buying a home in New Orleans is 52% cheaper than renting in 2015. Trulia’s Rent vs. Buy calculation assumes a 3.87% 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with a 20% down payment, itemizing tax deductions at the 25% bracket, and staying seven years in the home. Year-over-year differences are rounded to the nearest percentage point, and the difference was calculated before rounding; therefore, the rounded difference might not equal the difference between the rounded shares.  Click here to download the full Rent vs. Buy cost considerations for the 100 largest U.S. metros.

HOA Fees Can Make a Big Difference in the Rent vs. Buy Decision
If you are a homeowner association member, you need to factor in your HOA fee into your monthly housing costs. What these fees cover varies, but they can include everything from landscaping and maintaining public spaces to utilities and cable TV. The fee amounts also vary and, in some areas, you might have to pay a lot.

The New York and Honolulu metropolitan areas top the list of markets with the most expensive HOA fees, with medians of $575 and $438 per month respectively. Fort Myers, FL, Riverside, CA, and Miami, FL round out the top five with median HOA fees between $310 and $356. In these high-fee markets, HOA costs can make a significant difference in whether it’s better to rent or buy. 

RentvsBuy_HOAfees_Chart

To understand how much difference these costs make, we’ve factored in the median HOA fee for each of the 100 largest metros in our rent vs. buy analysis. If you want to know how much a homeowner fee on a specific property will affect your housing costs, Trulia’s rent vs. buy calculator allows you to plug in the fee amount in the advanced settings.

When we factor in the median HOA fee, the buying advantage almost disappears in some markets. In the New York metro area, buying a home becomes just 4% cheaper than renting, compared with 27% cheaper without the fee. And in the Honolulu metro, renting actually enjoys a 1% advantage when HOA fees are considered.

 

Without those fees, buying is 16% cheaper than renting. In some other markets, even though it’s still cheaper to buy a home with HOA fees than to rent, the swing can be large. For example, Melbourne, FL’s median HOA fee of $266 per month on a median-price house makes buying there 23% cheaper than renting, a swing of 22 percentage points from 45% cheaper without the fee. Other metros with similar swings include Youngstown, OH (48% vs. 28%), Fort Myers, FL (54% vs. 34%), and Riverside, CA (34% vs. 16%).

RentvsBuy_Hawaii

Where HOA Fees Matter Most in Rent vs. Buy Math

# U.S. Metro Cost of Buying vs. Renting with HOA Fee (%), Spring 2015 Rent Vs. Buy Difference with and without HOA Fees (% points) Median Monthly HOA Fee ($)
1 Honolulu, HI 1% 17% $438
2 New York, NY -4% 24% $575
3 San Jose, CA -8% 9% $290
4 Lancaster, PA -13% 6% $67
5 Portland, OR -14% 13% $220
6 Los Angeles, CA -15% 11% $285
7 San Francisco, CA -15% 9% $300
8 Madison, WI -15% 10% $152
9 San Diego, CA -15% 12% $296
10 Ventura, CA -16% 9% $230

By contrast, metros like Baton Rouge, LA and Oklahoma City, OK—where the median HOA fee will set you back only $30 and $22 per month respectively—are a bargain compared with New York and Honolulu. Furthermore, HOA fees in those areas are relatively cheap relative to median house prices, so they hardly affect the renting vs. buying calculation. In places where buying is the best deal even with HOA fees, the added monthly costs reduce the buying advantage by just 1-2 percentage points.

Where HOA Fees Are a Drop in the Bucket

# U.S. Metro Cost of Buying vs. Renting with Median HOA Fee (%), Spring 2015 Rent Vs. Buy Difference with and without HOA Fees (% points) Median Monthly HOA Fee ($)
1 Baton Rouge, LA -51% 2% $30
2 Sarasota, FL -51% 5% $92
3 New Orleans, LA -48% 4% $63
4 Oklahoma City, OK -48% 2% $22
5 Columbia, SC -47% 3% $33
6 Jackson, MS -47% 2% $27
7 Charleston, SC -46% 3% $43
8 Houston, TX -46% 3% $44
9 Greenville, SC -46% 3% $38
10 Memphis, TN -46% 2% $25

To see how much HOA fees add to your monthly mortgage costs, we’ve compared the median monthly mortgage payment with the median fee in the five lowest and highest HOA markets. In markets with the highest HOA fees, the effect is substantial. In Honolulu, the extra hit is 19% and, in Fort Myers, FL, a whopping 50%. But, in markets with the lowest HOA fees, the change is slight. HOA fees add just 2% to your monthly mortgage payment in Sacramento, CA, and just 5% in Little Rock, AR, Indianapolis, IN, and Oklahoma City, OK.

RentvsBuy_HOAMonthlyPayment_Chart

Furthermore, it’s not hard to come up with plausible scenarios in which HOA fees help make buying cost more than renting. Suppose a homebuyer wants to buy a condo with HOA fees. If this buyer is not itemizing tax deductions, only stays put for five years, and qualifies only for a 4.5% mortgage rate, then buying ends up costing more than renting in 29 of the 100 largest metros.

Those 29 metros include not only pricey coastal markets, but also in markets like Madison, WI, Milwaukee, WI, and Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN. In this scenario, buying costs 28% more than renting in New York City and 41% more expensive in Honolulu. So the moral of the story is: A condo might be within reach of most first-time homebuyers, but when you take HOA fees into account, it may make renting cheaper than buying.

Still, at the end of the day, if your dream home comes with HOA fees, it isn’t necessarily a deal breaker. Considering that some HOA fees bundle expenses you’d have to pay anyway, such as garbage, water, sewer, and building maintenance, the HOA fee could turn out to be a good deal. So when considering a home with HOA fees, be sure to find out exactly what those fees cover and factor it in to your overall housing budget.

Note: the detailed methodology and assumptions behind our Rent Vs. Buy model are here. Additionally, for our comparison of HOA fees, we used the median HOA fee of all properties in metro listed on Trulia in 2014.

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