Real Estate Confidential Austin
Rental Rumblings

Cramped? Austin renters feel the squeeze in more ways than one.

Cramped? Austin renters feel the squeeze in more ways than one.

Algarita Apartments Austin
Austin renters have less space than they did in 2009. Algarita Apartments/Facebook

Feeling cramped? There's a reason. In a recent study, real estate website Trulia found that renters — especially those with children — have less space than they did several years ago.

Trulia looked at U.S. Census Bureau's 2014 American Community Survey data to determine the number of needed bedrooms based on children and married couples in the family. Married couples together only need one bedroom, while non-married adults as well as children were assumed to each need one bedroom. Households with fewer bedrooms than non-married adults or children are considered to suffer the “space crunch.”

 In the nation’s biggest metro areas, 14.7 percent of households had fewer bedrooms than family members, an increase of half-a-percentage point since 2009. The study showed that renters with kids are especially cramped, and the larger and pricier the metro, the more likely renters are tight on space. Trulia found that just 8.1 percent of nationwide homeowners are tight on space, versus 26.4 percent of households who rent.

Contrary to the national trend, a few major Texas metros, including Houston and Dallas, posted a bigger drop among space-crunched renters compared to homeowners. Austin, Fort Worth, and San Antonio, on the other hand, are consistent with the national trend, where more renting households are sharing bedrooms than they did in 2009.

In the Austin-Round Rock metro area, 13.2 percent of residents face the space crunch. The bunk-bed wave hit just 7.3 percent of Austin homeowners in 2014, down .6 percentage points over a five-year period. In comparison, 22.8 percent of renting households have fewer bedrooms than they need, up 2.4 percentage points since 2009 — the highest increase in Texas by far. 

While space is seemingly getting worse for renters in Austin, as well as Fort Worth and San Antonio, the share of cramped renters in Houston and Dallas has dropped more significantly between 2009 and 2014 than the share of cramped homeowners. Still, 28.8 percent of Houston-area renters are bunking up. In Dallas, the figure is over 27 percent.