This Is How Many Hours It Takes to Make Rent in the Top 25 Cities

February 13, 2020
Clock worker
By Daniel Krasoń

There are 525,600 minutes in a year, and if you rent in San Jose, Calif., you will spend nearly 55,000 of them working to pay rent. In other words, renters dedicate an average of over 76 hours a month to secure a place to live there. SmartAsset analyzed the hours of work needed to pay monthly rent in the 25 largest American cities. The analysis found that renters living in the west pay a premium for their location, but the main takeaway from the analysis is that it is expensive nationwide right now: The average renters spend more than the recommended 30 percent of their pay on rent in all 25 top cities. 

Pew Research Center found that in 2017 more U.S. households were headed by renters than at any point since 1965. Considering the fact that rent is a major expense for many people – more than half of household income in some of the country’s largest cities – workers might find themselves clocking extra hours to pay their landlords and build their savings. Of course, it can take more work hours to cover rental costs in some cities compared to others.

In this study, SmartAsset uncovered the hours of work needed to pay monthly rent in the 25 largest American cities, considering data on the following metrics: average annual take-home pay, average hours worked per year and median rent. For details on our data sources and how we put all the information together to create our final rankings, check out the Data and Methodology section below.

This is the 2020 version of this study. Check out the 2019 version here.

Key Findings

Several cities in Western states require more work to cover rent. Of the 10 cities in the country where the highest number of hours is needed to pay rent, six are in Western states: California, Colorado and Washington State. Four of those six are in California, with an average monthly rent across them of $1,803.

Housing costs are high across all large U.S. cities. Annual rent comprises more than 30% of average earnings in all 25 cities in our study, suggesting that many residents may be housing-cost burdened. In fact, in three California cities in our study – San Jose, Los Angeles and San Diego – housing costs comprise more than 50% of average earnings for workers.

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