Renting an Apartment in LA? Here's How Much You Need to Make Per Hour: Report

We all know California is an expensive place to live -- but staggering new data from the National Low Income Housing Coalition puts the price in perspective.

Top down aerial shot of suburban tract housing near Santa Clarita, California. A maze of roads and dead end streets of large single family homes, some with swimming pool.
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Californians are well aware of the high price of housing — but a new report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition shows how deep the divide truly is between the minimum wage and the cost of an average two-bedroom rental.

The housing coalition, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., released its annual report last week showing the minimum wage workers would need to earn in U.S. states and cities to be able to afford a “modest” two-bedroom apartment at fair market rate.

How Much Do I Need to Earn to Afford an Apartment in Southern California? 

Californians, on average, would need to earn an hourly wage of $39.01 and work full-time to afford a two-bedroom apartment.

Understandably, that number changes drastically depending on what part of the state you live in. 

In most of Orange County, workers would need an hourly wage of $44.69, the date shows. In the Los Angeles area, the number is on par with the state average at $39.31. 

At the state’s current minimum wage, LA residents would need to work between two to three full-time jobs to meet that threshold. 

In San Diego County, renters would need to work about three full-time jobs, or earn a minimum wage of $42.92, to afford a two-bedroom apartment. 

What About the Bay Area?

In San Francisco, the numbers get worse. 

Residents need an hourly wage of $61.50 to afford a two-bedroom rental, the report shows, making it the most expensive city in the state. 

Other parts of the Bay Area aren't much better. Workers in the Santa Cruz area need $60.35 per hour, while those in the Silicon Valley — the state's tech hub — need to earn $55.15 per hour, according to the report.

Americans are already facing a shortage of 4 million housing units, but climate change is going to make it a whole lot worse. Real estate experts say climate threats will make it harder to afford to live in cities across the U.S. as wildfires, floods and storms turn up the pressure on an already unsustainable housing market.

Are There Any Affordable Regions of California?

If you’re considering a move to Central California, while the region may not offer as much as a metropolitan city, you’re looking at a much lower cost of living. 

In Bakersfield, renters need to earn just $19.48 per hour to afford a two-bedroom rental. 

In Fresno, the number is slightly higher at $21.87.

Residents in Merced are looking at a minimum wage of $21.54, the report says.

In Tulare County, a wage of $19.33 an hour will cover the cost of a two-bedroom apartment.

As for the cheapest county — residents of Modoc County can afford a two-bedroom rental with a minimum wage of $15.40 an hour, just pennies more than the state's current minimum wage.

What Does An Apartment Really Cost in Los Angeles?

An online search for Los Angeles apartments is bound to make your head spin — but prices hover around a minimum of $2,000 per month.

Add a washer and dryer or a dog into the mix and you’re looking at an even higher cost.

Housing website Zumper estimates a two-bedroom rental even higher, at $3,250 per month.

Wherever you're renting in LA (or California,) the cost of housing is nothing to joke about.

To view the full report on rental costs and minimum wage, click here.


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