Rents Are Rising Across The Country — Here's How You Can Prepare

'In 44 out of the 50 largest metros in the US, median rents actually broke records in June.'

7/30/2021 2:50:00 AM

'In 44 out of the 50 largest metros in the US, median rents actually broke records in June.'

'In 44 out of the 50 largest metros in the US, median rents actually broke records in June.'

Peter Dazeley / Getty Imagesrecent studyshowed that rent is beyond unaffordable in every US state for full-time workers earning the current federal minimum wage, which has been set at $7.25 an hour for the last 12 years. To be able to afford the average one-bedroom apartment on their own, people would need to get paid $20.40 an hour, nearly three times the federal minimum wage.

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To get the scoop on why rents are rising right now and what renters can do to protect their wallets, I reached out toLauren Silbert, VP and general manager of the personal finance site The Balance.So, what's driving rent prices up? Silbert says that offices reopening and workers returning to cities are among the factors making rents spike.

Luis Alvarez / Getty Images"As offices reopen and the job market picks up, we’re seeing a lot of renters who previously moved away or back home now rejoin the rental market," Lauren Silbert says."Major cities like New York and San Francisco are seeing an influx of returning workers who left during the pandemic, though they’re not the only cities where rents are rising. In 44 out of the 50 largest metros in the US, median rents actually broke records in June. The median price of an apartment rental

rose 9.1%in the first half of the year to $1,219 compared to $1,117 in January."But a shortage of affordable units and regular seasonal shifts in pricing are also part of the reason why rents are going up.Peathegee Inc / Getty Images"New apartment construction is down nationwide, and has been since 2017," Silbert notes."Though new units are being added to the market, they’re not enough to counteract rising demand and increased costs of building. There’s also some seasonality to rent increases too. Rental prices normally fall during the winter season, and pick up again in the late spring, hitting peak prices mid-summer."

And theon July 31 could see rent prices going still higher.Sopa Images / SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty ImagesUnfortunately, Silbert says,"It’s likely that many owners will take the eviction moratorium’s expiration as an opportunity to raise rents for new and existing tenants. In New York City, rent increases were approved even for rent-controlled apartments in June, at a time when renters’ advocates wanted to freeze rates."

So if you're a renter, what can you do to cope? Silbert suggests looking at either downsizing your space, increasing your income, or even relocating to a less-expensive area, if possible.Drakula & Co. / Getty Images"A lot of renters are going to find they can’t afford the same kind of housing they could before, and may need to weigh their options — whether that’s downsizing, negotiating a higher salary, making a career change, or relocating where costs of living are lower. If you’re in a position to work from home or relocate, there are still

some areas offering cash or land incentives for workers to move there, including Vermont, Topeka, Kansas and Tulsa, Oklahoma."If you currently live on your own, you might also consider getting a roommate to make rent more affordable. And if you haven't gone through your budget in a while, it might help to trim any unnecessary or unused expenses. Additionally, if your rent is stable for now, it might still be a good idea to cut down on some spending so you can stash more cash away in your

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. That way, you'll have some reserves on hand just in case your rent rises soon.But wait, what happened to thethat the federal government earmarked for state and local governments? There are still funds available for renters in need, but Silbert says you likely shouldn't count on getting aid quickly.

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