The high cost of living
Many of us struggle to pay the rent or mortgage each month. But for some residents in the Austin metro area, it’s getting a little easier, a new study indicates.
The study, published February 5 by real estate website Clever, indicates that on a per-capita basis, people in the Austin area save have $355.12 remaining every two weeks after living expenses are paid.
To calculate the rankings, Clever subtracted per-person income taxes and living expenses (housing, utilities, health care, groceries, and non-recreational goods and services) from biweekly pay.
In Austin, residents are earning an average of $2,260.50 per paycheck with living expenses adding up to an average of $1,671.35.
But just because the average Austin resident is able to have a little money leftover doesn't mean we're living the high life. The study notes that Austin's soaring rents have resulted in the "largest shares of co-paying adults living [together]." The Capital City joins San Francisco, San Jose, and San Diego on that list.
Elsewhere in the Lone Star State, San Antonio fared the worst among Texas' major metro areas.
San Antonio area are $1.31 in the hole every two weeks after covering average living expenses. Among the country’s 75 largest metro areas, San Antonio ranks sixth in that regard along with:
- McAllen (-$230.68)
- New Haven, Connecticut (-$156.41)
- Riverside-San Bernardino, California (-$112.11)
- New York City (-$109.44)
- Orlando, Florida (-$83.15)
- San Antonio (-$1.31)
“You might expect that people in a cheaper metro like San Antonio, where one-bedroom apartments rent for $995 on average, to be able to save more than people in San Jose, [California],” who spend an average of $2,667 for one-bedroom apartments, Clever points out.
“In fact, the opposite is true: We found a significant correlation between median rent prices in a metro area and people’s leftover income after living expenses, such that higher rents were related to more money saved at the end of the pay period.”
As noted by the Texas Tribune, median rents rose from $860 to $1,002 in the San Antonio area between 2008 and 2018. That 16.5 percent jump outpaced the increase in the New York City and was on par with the increase in the Los Angeles area.
Similar increases happened in the Dallas (18.7 percent) and Houston (16.1 percent) areas, theTribune points out, but unlike in those cities, wage growth in San Antonio has failed to catch up with rising rent.
In the San Antonio area, renters’ median income grew from $35,718 to $36,959 between 2008 and 2018, or 3.5 percent, according to the Texas Tribune. According to data from the city, one-third of households within San Antonio spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing, the benchmark that traditionally defines affordable housing.
Among the 75 metro areas in the Clever study, the per-person amount of biweekly pay left over after covering average living expenses sits at $136.39. In Texas’ other major metro areas, those living in Dallas-Fort Worth have $318.38 remaining while residents in the Houston area have $225.29 after paying expenses.