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Austin is more affordable than San Antonio when rent is compared to income

Living room in downtown San Antonio apartment building.jpg
Bri Kirkham
Texas Public Radio
Living room in downtown San Antonio apartment building.

Single family home rental costs soared 38% in San Antonio in 2021, while apartment rental costs jumped 29%, according to an online rental property search firm.

The most recently released information from Dwellsy relates to San Antonio's hot apartment rental market.

The median apartment rental asking price in San Antonio between January 2021 and just this past December went from $1,304 a month to $1,681 a month or a difference of $377 a month. Dwellsy reports rent typically increases 3 or 4% a year across the country, but even nationally median rent rose 11% in 2021.

Dwellsy Co-founder and CEO Jonas Bordo said rental demand is high in the Alamo City right now, with new arrivals in the city looking to rent for the first time along with existing renters looking to move up to a larger rental space.

"That confluence of factors has led to a huge increase in rent prices in markets like San Antonio," Bordo said.

He said San Antonio is popular among existing residents and for movers from across the country. Bordo said he doesn't foresee the construction of new apartments keeping pace with the demand for more apartment space anytime soon, partly due to the pandemic.

"I'm not expecting any relief in 2022 unfortunately. I know a lot of builders are getting busy building, but obviously we got supply chain challenges that are making that challenging as well. So, I think it's going to be at least a year or two before the market catches up." he said.

Bordo said renters will need to work hard to find the space they are looking for with such tight inventory.

Dwellsy also had a shocking finding on affordability when comparing San Antonio and Austin. Austin came in more affordable when rent was compared to incomes.

San Antonio had a household median income in 2021 of $62,000, with 32% of that pay going towards apartment rent. Austin had a household median income of nearly $81,000, with 28% of that pay going towards apartment rent.

Out of 375 rental markets ranked by Dwellsy for affordability, San Antonio finished at 318, while Austin finished at 281. The No. 1 city for apartment rental affordability was Jefferson City, Missouri, with a December monthly median rent of $550 and a median yearly household income of nearly $61,000 — spending nearly 11% of their annual income on rent.

Naples-Marco Island, Florida, was dead last in affordability with a December monthly median rent of $3,398 and a median yearly household income of $76,000 — spending 54% of their annual pay on rent.

Dwellsy reports the general rule is for renters not to spend more than a third of their annual income on rent or risk debt troubles, but living situations vary.

The San Antonio Apartment Association is preparing for its State of the State of the local rental market, including trends and new construction in an online virtual meeting at 9 a.m. on Jan. 12. Participants can register at saaaonline.org.

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