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Friday, August 3, 2018

You're paying too much for rent in Orlando

Posted By on Fri, Aug 3, 2018 at 2:45 PM

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If you feel like you're paying too much for rent, you undoubtedly are.

Average rental prices in the Orlando area increased by 7.7 percent from July 2017 to July 2018, according to a new monthly report from RentCafe.

The average rent for a studio in Orlando is currently $1,010, which is $99 more per month than this time last year. Prices for one-bedrooms also increased by 7.1 percent, and two-bedrooms went up by a whopping 8.4 percent.

For comparison's sake, rent increased by an average of 2.8 percent across the country, with Florida seeing some of the more absurd price surges. Out of the 20 largest rental markets in the country, Orlando's 7.7 percent increase last month was by far the largest.

While Orlando isn't even close to the most expensive city to rent – that honor actually goes to Manhattan – according to the report, the City Beautiful now has the eighth highest rental prices in the country's 20 most in-demand rental hubs, ahead of cities like Austin and Tampa.

Orlando's spike in rental costs shouldn't come as much of a surprise to anyone, considering our housing market continues to hover around the "overvalued" label, meaning there's an extremely high demand for a nearly barren market.

But it's important to understand that a $99 a month increase is a huge amount of money for most working-class people.

A recent report from United Way found that from 2007 t0 2015, the basic cost of living in Florida rose 19 percent – with wages staying nearly stagnant. Because of this, 47 percent of Florida's resident can't afford basic needs like housing, food, healthcare, etc. That's half of the state.

What's remarkable about Orlando's current situation is that in order to be able to afford the average studio apartment, you need to earn at least $34,000. This is absolutely impossible if you're working for Florida's minimum wage of $8.25, as a large portion of Orlando residents currently are.

If you're working a minimum wage job in Florida, then you're bringing in roughly $17,000 a year based on a 40-hour week. This means you have a rental budget of $439 a month.

Congrats, you can afford one-third of a studio apartment.

According to the nonprofit National Low-Income Housing Coalition,  46 percent of Orlando residents are renters, and of those, nearly one out of three people are what's referred to as "rent burdened," meaning they spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing.

To make matters worse, the Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford area is currently tied for second worst in the country for available affordable housing, offering just 17 available and affordable units per 100 renters.

This is what's called an affordable housing crisis.

Of course there's always the argument that low-paying jobs are supposed to be temporary, and why don't these poor people just get roommates? Well, roommates aren't always an option for a single mother, or a person with disabilities, and let's not forget that last quarter Orlando's job growth was led entirely by low-paying service gigs. This makes sense – we are in fact the theme park capitol of the world, but if you think those jobs were meant to be filled by high-school kids who live at home with mom and dad, you're mistaken.

Yes, high-paying jobs are ideal and they certainly add the most dollars to Florida's GDP, which topped $1 trillion last month. But they're also the smallest slice of available jobs, and they're also almost impossible to attain if you can't improve your living situation because your finances are tied up in your apartment, rather than investing in your health or education.

Orlando does lead the state in job growth, something Gov. Rick Scott loves to brag about, and that's great, but we also have the third lowest average median household income in the country, and that's bad.

In other words, Orlando is built on the backs of the working poor, and right now they can't afford to live here.

Correction: The article previously stated that Orlando has the eight highest rentals prices in the country, when in fact it has the eighth highest rental prices in the country's 20 most in-demand rental hubs, according to RentCafe's July report.

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