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Can Your Job Impact Where You Should Live?

Originally posted on August 14, 2018 11:30 am
Updated on August 28, 2018 11:36 am

Finding an apartment for rent that’s affordable, in a good area, while being in good shape is not an easy task. Especially if you’re looking to rent in a big city. The task gets even more daunting when you are trying to find an apartment in a city that you’re not familiar with, which is often the case for new graduates moving to commence work. That might leave you with questions such as “Where should I live?” or better yet “Where can I afford to live?”. Don’t fret. RentHop is here to make things, and the apartment search, a little bit easier by providing some insight on which areas might be the best match for you.

For this data study, we took a look at the cost of different areas in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, and New York City by looking at the median 1 bedroom price and the median 2 bedroom price per tenant and doing a price comparison by area and city to see potential savings by sharing an apartment over getting an apartment by yourself. We also, based on numbers from CareerCast and Forbes, compiled a list of jobs that they found to be the most in-demand jobs (2017), the toughest jobs to fill (2017), the best jobs, the highest paid jobs, etc, to give an idea of which job would fit the rent requirement of what area. From these lists, we found the median annual salary. Note that median annual salaries are not based on a city-specific level. The intent of the study was to provide insight to new graduates and/or people looking to move to a new city but aren’t sure which area to settle for.

Key Findings from the Study:

  • Sharing a 2 bedroom apartment is, not surprisingly, financially smarter than getting a 1 bedroom apartment by yourself, especially right out of school.
  • In terms of price savings when sharing a 2 bedroom apartment over getting a 1 bedroom apartment by yourself, Miami had the highest median price saving (38.89%), Boston ranked second (38.20%), New York City ranked third (37.97%), Chicago ranked fourth (37.00%), while Los Angeles ranked last (32.56%).
  • Chicago was the most affordable city in terms of both the 1 bedroom median price ($1,285) and the 2 bedroom median price per tenant ($793.25) of the selected five cities.
  • For New York City, the borough with the highest price savings when sharing a 2 bedroom apartment was Brooklyn. The top five biggest price savings for zip codes were all located in Brooklyn.

Go directly to a city or section: Boston | Chicago | Los Angeles | Miami | New York City | Comparison by City


How Much Should You Spend on Rent?

There is a rule that says you shouldn’t be spending more than 30% of your income on rent. Another way to look at it is that your annual household income should be 40 times the monthly rent to afford the apartment. This is a great rule to follow, as people who are looking to rent apartments, specifically in big cities, have probably come across the very common requirement of making 40 times the monthly rent. While we know many make the decision to bunk up with roommates instead of renting an entire apartment for yourself for financial reasons, the dream for most of us is to have an entire apartment for ourselves! But is that a reasonable dream fresh out of school? That could depend on the job and the area.

1 Bedroom vs 2 Bedroom Apartment Based on Your Salary

Like we just mentioned, it’s financially smarter to get a roommate to split the rent with than paying the full rent yourself. In bigger cities, the rent is usually higher, which leaves you with either getting a roommate or getting a really, really tiny studio apartment that could also qualify as a closet. By choosing to share a 2 bedroom apartment instead of getting a 1 bedroom by yourself, you can easily save a significant amount of money on rent. While having an apartment by yourself is the ultimate dream, it might not be the most reasonable dream, especially if you’re fresh out of college. We took a closer look at exactly how much you can save by choosing to live with a roommate instead of getting your own place.


Interactive Maps Show Where You Can Afford to Live Based on Your Job and Income

 

The interactive maps below show the costs of a 1 bedroom and a 2 bedroom apartment in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, and New York City. Furthermore, the maps show the median rent per zip code for the 1 bedroom apartment map and the median rent per tenant for the 2 bedroom apartment map. We used our own rental data to calculate the median asking rent and multiplied that by 40 to calculate the customary income requirement to rent an apartment. When comparing the median rent with the required income, this is what we found.

 

Boston

 

When looking at the maps above, it is easy to see which areas might in fact be more expensive than others when comparing the rent for a 1 bedroom apartment and a 2 bedroom apartment. The zip code for Seaport District (02210) requires an annual income of $123,840 to rent a 1 bedroom while the zip code for Kendall Square (02142) requires an annual income of $124,440. When comparing the median monthly price per tenant for a 2 bedroom for the same zip codes, we see a significant price saving. If you were to rent a 2 bedroom apartment in the zip code for Kendall Square (02142) it would only require you to have an annual income of $80,000, as the rent dropped from $3,111 to $2,000. That’s a significant price drop of 35.71%. For Seaport District (02210), you can save 29.51% by sharing a 2 bedroom apartment.

As an example of what kind of job you would need to have to secure an apartment, a 1 bedroom apartment in zip code 02109 (Downtown Boston) requires an annual income of $109,540, which could be suited for a tax manager with a median annual income of $115,869. When looking at the income requirement for a shared 2 bedroom, the number of professions that would qualify based on the 40 times the monthly rent rule inreases as the required annual income drops to $74,400.

These neighborhoods saw the biggest price savings by sharing a 2 bedroom over a 1 bedroom apartment

  • Zip code 02121 (Washington Park): Rent drops from $1,725 to $900, which equals a price saving of 47.83%.
  • Zip code 02472 (Watertown): Rent drops from $2,100 to $1,100, which equals a price saving of 47.62%.
  • Zip code 02125 (Columbia Point): Rent drops from $2,200 to $1,163, which equals a price saving of $47.16%.
  • Zip code 02150 (Lower Broadway): Rent drops from $1,700 to $930, which equals a price saving of 45.29%.
  • Zip code 02476 (Arlington Center): Rent drops from $1,825 to $1,000, which equals a price saving of 45.21%.

 


Chicago

 

Compared to Boston, we are only seeing areas in blue, meaning Chicago is overall less expensive than Boston for both 1 bedroom and 2 bedroom apartments. We are also seeing the same trend as for Boston, where the areas closer to the city center are priced higher compared to other areas. The most expensive zip code for a 1 bedroom apartment is the zip code for Near West Side (60607), which would require an annual income of $90,000 to secure. Comparing those numbers with a 2 bedroom in the same area, rent drops from $2,250 per person to $1,350 per person, which equals a 40% price drop. Now, to secure the apartment, you and your roommate would need to have a annual income of $54,000 each. As an example, to secure a 1 bedroom apartment in Near West Side (60607), a job that would qualify based on the 40 times the rent rule is a Medical Service Manager with a median annual salary of $96,540. If you’re looking to save money, and share a 2 bedroom, the required annual income would be $54,000, suitable for a Biologist with a median annual salary of $62,290.

These neighborhoods saw the biggest price savings by sharing a 2 bedroom over a 1 bedroom apartment

  • Zip code 60620 (Gresham): Rent drops from $838 to $438, which equals a price saving of 47.76%.
  • Zip code 60202 (Evanston): Rent drops from $1,350 to $750, which equals a price saving of 44.44%.
  • Zip code 60653 (North Kenwood): Rent drops from $1,299 to $725, which equals a price saving of 44.17%.
  • Zip code 60644 (South Austin): Rent drops from $814 to $455, which equals a price saving of 44.09%.
  • Zip code 60622 (Wicker Park): Rent drops from $1,600 to $900, which equals a price saving of 43.75%.

 


Los Angeles

 

Looking at Los Angeles, we are now seeing a different story with more red areas than before. Los Angeles is known for being one of the more expensive cities in the U.S. so it’s not that surprising. Neither is the area that is the most expensive when it comes to a 1 bedroom apartment, which is the zip code for North of Montana (90402). The median price for a 1 bedroom apartment in North of Montana is a staggering $4,175, which would require an annual income of $167,000. So would it be cheaper to share a 2 bedroom apartment in the same area? Technically yes, but the price per tenant is still high with the rent now only being lowered to $3,150, which technically is a 24.55% price saving. The area would still require an annual income of $126,000, which is pretty high for young professionals. An example of a job that would qualify for a shared 2 bedroom apartment in North of Montana (90402) is a Podiatrist, with a median annual salary of $127,740.

These neighborhoods saw the biggest price savings by sharing a 2 bedroom over a 1 bedroom apartment

  • Zip code 90640 (Montebello): Rent drops from $1,545 to $825, which equals a price saving of 46.60%.
  • Zip code 91303 (Warner Center): Rent drops from $1,695 to $925, which equals a price saving of 45.43%.
  • Zip code 91801 (Alhambra): Rent drops from $1,650 to $931, which equals a price saving of 43.56%.
  • Zip code 91304 (Canoga Park): Rent drops from $1,545 to $875, which equals a price saving of 43.37%.
  • Zip code 91030 (South Pasadena): Rent drops from $1,894 to $1,098, which equals a price saving of 42.05%.

 


Miami

 

For Miami, we see that the maps look similar to Chicago, in regards to affordability. Both Miami and Chicago are less expensive for young professionals looking for an apartment compared to Boston and Los Angeles. Again we see that the more expensive areas are closer to Downtown Miami. For Miami, the most expensive zip code to get a 1 bedroom apartment in is Hollywood Hills (33021), with the median 1 bedroom price being $2,500. If you were to share a 2 bedroom apartment in the same area you will see a price saving of 40.00%, as the rent drops to $1,500.

If you are deadset on living in the zip code for Downtown Miami (33132) it would require an annual income of $74,750 to secure a 1 bedroom apartment. This would be good for a Civil Engineer. If you don’t mind sharing a 2 bedroom apartment in the same area, the required annual income would drop to $56,000, which would be suited for an Executive Assistant.

These neighborhoods saw the biggest price savings by sharing a 2 bedroom over a 1 bedroom apartment

  • Zip code 33014 (Miami Lakes): Rent drops from $1,475 to $800, which equals a price saving of 45.76%.
  • Zip code 33176 (Kendall): Rent drops from $1,369 to $750, which equals a price saving of 45.21%.
  • Zip code 33317 (Plantation Green): Rent drops from $1,356 to $749, which equals a price saving of 44.79%.
  • Zip code 33311 (Wilton Manors): Rent drops from $1,250 to $698, which equals a price saving of 44.20%.
  • Zip code 33351 (Welleby): Rent drops from $1,250 to $700, which equals a price saving of $44.00%.

 


New York City

 

Last, but not least, we have New York City. A city which is notoriously known for its high rents, which is why the results of the maps above aren’t really that surprising. We see that Manhattan is pretty much covered in red, meaning it will require renters to have a high annual income to secure a 1 bedroom apartment by themselves in certain zip codes. We also see that parts of Brooklyn and Queens remain red, meaning they will also have a high requirement for securing a 1 bedroom apartment. When comparing the price of a 1 bedroom to the price of a 2 bedroom per tenant, the map is becoming more affordable to young professionals. It is safe to say, that unless you make an substantial amount of money right out of school, you have financial help, or you are looking to share a 1 bedroom apartment, your best bet is to share a 2 bedroom apartment when it comes to New York City. As an example, getting a 1 bedroom apartment in East Village (10003) would require an annual income of $124,000, which could be good for a Psychiatrist with a median annual income of $127,650. Sharing a 2 bedroom apartment in the same area would require an annual income of $78,000, which could be good for a Mechanical Engineer with a median annual salary of $85,880. Deciding to share a 2 bedroom apartment in the East Village could end up saving you 37.10% on rent.

These neighborhoods saw the biggest price savings by sharing a 2 bedroom over a 1 bedroom

  • Zip code 11206 (East Williamsburg): Rent drops from $2,375 to $1,262, which equals a price saving of 46.85%.
  • Zip code 11211 (Williamsburg): Rent drops from $2,915 to $1,600, which equals a price saving of 45.11%.
  • Zip code 11233 (Bedford-Stuyvesant): Rent drops from $1,900 to $1,063, which equals a price saving of 44.08%.
  • Zip code 11205 (Clinton Hill): Rent drops from $2,495 to $1,400, which equals a price saving of 43.89%.
  • Zip code 11237 (Bushwick): Rent drops from $2,129 to $1,200, which equals a price saving of 43.62%.

 


Interactive Table Showing the Savings in Percentage by Zip Code and City

When comparing all five cities, certain cities, like Chicago, are more affordable when it comes to securing a 1 bedroom apartment by yourself. For other cities, not so much. However, the majority of us end up sharing an apartment right after graduating, to save money as living is not cheap. For an easy overview of how much you could end up saving by zip code, take a look at the interactive table below that shows 1 bedroom prices and 2 bedroom prices per tenant along with the price savings in percentage and the annual income requirement based on the 40 times income rule.

 

Guide on How Much You Could Be Making

Based on numbers from CareerCast and Forbes, we compiled a list of jobs that they found to be the most in-demand jobs (2017), the toughest jobs to fill (2017), the best jobs, the highest paid jobs, etc, to give an idea of which job would fit the rent requirement of what area. From these lists, we found the median annual salary. Note that median annual salaries are not based on a city-specific level and the list was only created to give an idea of what you can afford with what kind of income.


Comparison by City

Looking at the selected cities, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, and New York, we already know that some cities are notorious for having high rent prices. We wanted to make a comparison of which city is the more affordable option when it comes to securing a 1 bedroom apartment and which city was the most affordable option when it comes to sharing a 2 bedroom apartment. We also looked at the average price savings per city to compare which city might be the best option for new professionals.

Ranking 1 Bedroom Median Prices from most to least affordable by City

  • Chicago ranks first with a median 1 bedroom price of $1,285.
  • Miami ranks second with a median 1 bedroom price of $1,359.
  • Los Angeles ranks third with a median 1 bedroom price of $1,800.
  • Boston ranks fourth with a median 1 bedroom price of $1,990.
  • New York City ranks fifth, and last, with a median 1 bedroom price of $2,120.

Ranking 2 Bedroom Median Prices (Per Tenant) from most to least affordable by City

  • Chicago ranks first with a median 2 bedroom price per tenant of $793.
  • Miami ranks second with a median 2 bedroom price per tenant of $825.
  • Boston ranks third with a median 2 bedroom price per tenant of $1,169.
  • Los Angeles is tied for last, with a median 2 bedroom price per tenant of $1,250.
  • New York City is tied for last, with a median 2 bedroom price per tenant of $1,250.

The Biggest Median Price Savings by Sharing a 2 Bedroom by City

  • Ranking first with a price saving of 38.89% is Miami.
  • Ranking second with a price saving of 38.20% is Boston.
  • Ranking third, with a price saving of 37.97%, is New York City.
  • Ranking fourth, with a price saving of 37.00%, is Chicago.
  • Ranking fifth and last, with a price saving of 32.56%, is Los Angeles.


What Does This Mean to You?

As a young professional, either moving to a new city to commence work or just moving out of your parents place, getting your first place is a special thing. And while we know getting an apartment by yourself is the goal, starting off by living with a roommate is not so bad. You save money and you get to make some great memories with your friends. However, if you’re deadset on only living by yourself, make sure it’s a place you can afford. Review the areas and which areas that fall within your budget. There is a reason why we suggest renters, and especially new renters, to follow the 40 times your monthly rent rule. Make sure your household income is 40 times the monthly rent or that you’re not spending more than 30% of your income on rent as there are plenty of other things you need to spend money on other than rent. If you are planning on moving to one of these five cities, or you’ve already moved but still looking for an apartment, take a look at the maps above to see where you could afford to live based on your annual income. While the maps are just a guideline, it could be a helpful one if you’re new to one of the five cities listed.

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