GOBankingRates

The Salary You Need To Afford Rent in Every State

jaskoomerovic / Getty Images/iStockphoto

jaskoomerovic / Getty Images/iStockphoto

A common rule of thumb is to spend less than 30% of your salary on housing costs. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development considers anyone spending more than 30% “cost burdened.” However, many Americans — especially renters — show signs that they’re living beyond their means. For example, they let rent eat up their paychecks and use credit cards to pay for other expenses.

Of course, how much you need to earn to afford rent depends a lot on where you live. GOBankingRates examined the median rent for single-family residences in every state, and calculated the monthly and yearly income needed to have monthly rent consume 30% or less of the total income to determine the salary you’ll need to afford rent.

See the income you’ll need based on where you live. Or, start looking for a place that more closely aligns with what you’re pulling in.

Last updated: Nov. 2, 2020

©Shutterstock.com

Washington, D.C.

  • Median rent: $2,711
  • Monthly income needed: $9,037
  • Annual income needed: $108,440

Washington, D.C., is not a cheap place to rent, requiring the highest annual income of all the states to afford it. The U.S. capital has the highest average annual wage — $85,720 — but it’s still $22,720 short of what renters would need to make.

Make Your Money Work for You
©Shutterstock.com

California

  • Median rent: $2,518
  • Monthly income needed: $8,393
  • Annual income needed: $100,720

California requires the second-highest income of all the states to be able to afford rent. The difference between the average annual wage in California — $57,190 — and the income needed to afford rent in the state is substantial: $43,530. And the rent is even higher in the state’s most populous city, Los Angeles, where the median cost is $3,500.

See: How Real Estate in California Differs From Every Other State

Art Wager / Getty Images

Hawaii

  • Median rent: $2,481
  • Monthly income needed: $8,270
  • Annual income needed: $99,240

High living costs are one reason why Hawaii is one of the states where you’re most likely to live paycheck to paycheck. A person earning the average income in Hawaii — $52,050 — makes $47,190 less than the income needed to afford rent. The state’s high rent prices require the third-highest income of all the states.

ESB Professional / Shutterstock.com

Massachusetts

  • Median rent: $2,252
  • Monthly income needed: $7,507
  • Annual income needed: $90,080

Massachusetts requires the fourth-highest income to afford rent of all the states. A person making the average salary in the Northeast state — $62,110 — would make $27,970 less than what’s needed to comfortably cover rent costs.

Make Your Money Work for You
Davel5957 / Getty Images

New Jersey

  • Median rent: $2,062
  • Monthly income needed: $6,873
  • Annual income needed: $82,480

New Jersey has the fifth-highest income required to afford rent of all the states. The average annual wage in the state is $56,970, so a person making that would fall $25,510 short of being able to comfortably afford rent costs. New Jersey is challenging to homeowners, too — it’s the worst state for first-time homebuyers.

Alexey Smolyanyy / Shutterstock.com

New York

  • Median rent: $2,050
  • Monthly income needed: $6,833
  • Annual income needed: $82,000

New York requires the sixth-highest income to comfortably pay for rent. A person making an average state income of $60,100 would earn $21,900 less than what’s needed to afford rent.

annasiracusa / Pixabay

Colorado

  • Median rent: $1,927
  • Monthly income needed: $6,423
  • Annual income needed: $77,080

Colorado requires the seventh-highest income to afford rent compared to all of the states. The annual average wage in Colorado is $54,050 — $23,030 less than what’s needed to afford rent. And rent costs in cities like Denver, which has a median rent list price of $2,195, are even higher.

MarkHatfield / Getty Images

Washington

  • Median rent: $1,838
  • Monthly income needed: $6,127
  • Annual income needed: $73,500

The average annual income in Washington is $57,480 — $16,040 less than what you need to afford rent in the Pacific Northwest state. Washington requires the eighth-highest income to afford rent.

Make Your Money Work for You
ESB Professional / Shutterstock.com

Maryland

  • Median rent: $1,807
  • Monthly income needed: $6,023
  • Annual income needed: $72,280

Of all the states, Maryland has the ninth-highest income required to afford rent. The average annual wage in the state is $57,270, which is $15,010 less than what a renter would need to make in a year.

Nagel Photography / Shutterstock.com

Connecticut

  • Median rent: $1,803
  • Monthly income needed: $6,010
  • Annual income needed: $72,120

Connecticut has the 10th-highest income needed to afford rent of all the states. A Connecticut resident earning the average annual wage — $59,410 — won’t be able to afford rent. In fact, they’ll fall $12,710 short.

However, you can catch a break on rent costs in some areas, like Bridgeport, which is Connecticut’s most populous city and has an average rent list price of $1,625.

Naaman Abreu / Shutterstock.com

Alaska

  • Median rent: $1,748
  • Monthly income needed: $5,827
  • Annual income needed: $69,920

You’ll fall $12,170 short of the income needed to cover rent costs if you earn the average annual wage in Alaska, which is $57,750. On the plus side, you won’t have to lose any of your paycheck to income taxes, as Alaska is one of the seven states with no income tax.

Make Your Money Work for You
DenisTangneyJr / iStock.com

New Hampshire

  • Median rent: $1,748
  • Monthly income needed: $5,827
  • Annual income needed: $69,920

If you earn the average income in this New England state — $51,040 — you’ll be making $18,880 less than what you would need to afford rent.

Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

Rhode Island

  • Median rent: $1,725
  • Monthly income needed: $5,750
  • Annual income needed: $69,000

Rent in Rhode Island’s most populous city, Providence, is even more expensive than in the state as a whole, with a median rent of $2,025. Even if you are paying the state’s median rent price, you would not be able to afford rent making Rhode Island’s average income, which is $53,110.

Afford More Rent: 10 Best Lucrative Side Business Ideas

©Shutterstock.com

Oregon

  • Median rent: $1,707
  • Monthly income needed: $5,690
  • Annual income needed: $68,280

A person making an average salary in Oregon — $51,010 — would fall far short of being able to afford rent. And rents are even higher in some parts of the state, including Portland, where the median rent is $1,995.

Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

Vermont

  • Median rent: $1,599
  • Monthly income needed: $5,330
  • Annual income needed: $63,960

In Vermont, the average salary is $48,840. That’s over $15,000 less than what’s needed to afford rent in this Northeast state.

Make Your Money Work for You
Jerome LABOUYRIE / Shutterstock.com

Florida

  • Median rent: $1,590
  • Monthly income needed: $5,300
  • Annual income needed: $63,600

The income needed to afford rent in Florida is far beyond what the average wage earner in the state makes in a year: $44,790.

Fortunately, in some Florida cities rent is more affordable. For example, in Jacksonville, the state’s most populous city, the rent is $1,199.

strickke / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Utah

  • Median rent: $1,526
  • Monthly income needed: $5,087
  • Annual income needed: $61,040

You would fall almost $15,000 short of being able to afford rent if you earned the annual average wage in Utah, which is $46,460.

Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

Maine

  • Median rent: $1,466
  • Monthly income needed: $4,887
  • Annual income needed: $58,640

It would be difficult for someone earning the average annual income in Maine to afford rent. The average annual wage in the state is $45,300 — more than $13,000 less than what you’d need to afford rent.

Starcevic / iStock.com

Illinois

  • Median rent: $1,463
  • Monthly income needed: $4,877
  • Annual income needed: $58,520

The average state income in Illinois is $52,410 — $6,110 less than what you need to afford rent. And you’d need to make even more to afford rent in Chicago, where the median monthly rent is $1,800. It’s considerably better to buy a house than rent in Illinois.

Make Your Money Work for You
f11photo / Shutterstock.com

Texas

  • Median rent: $1,455
  • Monthly income needed: $4,850
  • Annual income needed: $58,200

The average income in Texas is $48,700, which is $9,500 less than what you would need to afford rent.

Learn: How Much You Need To Live Comfortably in 50 Major US Cities

Davel5957 / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Virginia

  • Median rent: $1,452
  • Monthly income needed: $4,840
  • Annual income needed: $58,080

You would need to make more than $58,000 to be able to afford rent in Virginia, yet the average annual salary in the state is only $53,980.

YinYang / iStock.com

Minnesota

  • Median rent: $1,449
  • Monthly income needed: $4,830
  • Annual income needed: $57,960

The difference between what you need to make to afford rent and the average annual salary in Minnesota — $52,730 — is over $5,000. And rent costs about $300 more per month if you live in Minneapolis.

DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

Delaware

  • Median rent: $1,435
  • Monthly income needed: $4,783
  • Annual income needed: $57,400

The average annual income in Delaware — $52,200 — is $5,200 less than what you need to afford rent in the state. Rent is slightly cheaper in Wilmington, the state’s largest city, at $1,200 a month.

©Shutterstock.com

Nevada

  • Median rent: $1,423
  • Monthly income needed: $4,743
  • Annual income needed: $56,920

The average annual wage in Nevada is $45,040 — nearly $12,000 less than what you would need to earn in a year to afford rent in the state.

LordRunar / iStock.com

Arizona

  • Median rent: $1,356
  • Monthly income needed: $4,520
  • Annual income needed: $54,240

The average annual wage in Arizona is $48,160, so those making the average income will earn $6,080 less than the income needed to afford rent in the state. However, rent is cheaper in certain cities, such as Yuma, which is one of the best places to live for $1,000 a month, according to a separate GOBankingRates study.

DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images/iStockphoto

North Dakota

  • Median rent: $1,290
  • Monthly income needed: $4,300
  • Annual income needed: $51,600

North Dakota’s average annual wage is $48,130 — about $3,500 short of what you would need to make to afford rent.

Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

Georgia

  • Median rent: $1,262
  • Monthly income needed: $4,207
  • Annual income needed: $50,480

If you’re earning Georgia’s annual average wage of $47,200, you’re making $3,280 less than what’s needed to afford rent. And if you live in the state’s biggest city, Atlanta, your salary would fall even shorter: the median in the city is $1,700.

DenisTangneyJr / iStock.com

Nebraska

  • Median rent: $1,253
  • Monthly income needed: $4,177
  • Annual income needed: $50,120

You need to make over $50,000 to afford rent in Nebraska, but unfortunately the average income in the state is only $45,530. A person earning average wages would fall $4,590 short of being able to afford rent.

f11photo / Shutterstock.com

Louisiana

  • Median rent: $1,245
  • Monthly income needed: $4,150
  • Annual income needed: $49,800

You’d need to make close to $50,000 to afford rent in Louisiana, but the average annual income in the state is only $41,590. That amount is even higher if you choose to live in the state’s most populous city, New Orleans, where the median rent is $1,650 a month.

Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

Pennsylvania

  • Median rent: $1,242
  • Monthly income needed: $4,140
  • Annual income needed: $49,680

The difference between what you need to make to afford rent in Pennsylvania and the average annual income in the state is just $920, but you’d still fall short. The median rent in Philadelphia is lower than the state average, but the overall cost of living makes it a more expensive place to live.

knowlesgallery / iStock.com

Idaho

  • Median rent: $1,238
  • Monthly income needed: $4,127
  • Annual income needed: $49,520

Rent in Boise, Idaho’s most populous city, is slightly more than in the state as a whole, with a median rent list price at $1,395. Even if you live in a cheaper area, you might not be able to afford rent if you make the state’s average income of $42,240.

Jon Bilous / Shutterstock.com

Montana

  • Median rent: $1,234
  • Monthly income needed: $4,113
  • Annual income needed: $49,360

Montana’s average annual wage is $42,400 — nearly $7,000 less than what you need to make to afford rent in the state.

EunikaSopotnicka / Getty Images/iStockphoto

South Dakota

  • Median rent: $1,213
  • Monthly income needed: $4,043
  • Annual income needed: $48,520

A person earning South Dakota’s average income of $40,770 makes $7,750 less than what’s needed to afford rent in the state.

f11photo / Shutterstock.com

South Carolina

  • Median rent: $1,209
  • Monthly income needed: $4,030
  • Annual income needed: $48,360

The average annual wage in this Southern state is $42,240, which is about $6,000 less than what you would need to afford rent — and that’s if you pay the median rent. In the state’s biggest city, Charleston, the rent list price is $1,950 — over $700 above the state’s median rent price.

Read: These Are the 50 Best Cities for Renters

ESB Professional / Shutterstock.com

North Carolina

  • Median rent: $1,208
  • Monthly income needed: $4,027
  • Annual income needed: $48,320

If you make the average income in North Carolina — $46,080 — you would be about $2,000 short of being able to afford rent. You’d be even shorter on rent money if you lived in the state’s biggest city, Charlotte, where the median rent is $1,450 a month.

digidreamgrafix / Getty Images

New Mexico

  • Median rent: $1,200
  • Monthly income needed: $4,000
  • Annual income needed: $48,000

In New Mexico, the average annual wage is $44,840, which is about $3,000 less than what’s needed to afford rent in the state.

f11photo / Shutterstock.com

Tennessee

  • Median rent: $1,153
  • Monthly income needed: $3,843
  • Annual income needed: $46,120

With an average annual wage of $43,550, affording rent is out of reach for many in Tennessee. Rents are even higher in its biggest city, Nashville, where the rent list price is $1,695.

WitGorski / iStock.com

Wyoming

  • Median rent: $1,149
  • Monthly income needed: $3,830
  • Annual income needed: $45,960

With an average annual wage of $47,650, Wyoming is one of the 11 states where you can afford rent with an average salary. In fact, you’d make $1,690 more than what’s needed to afford rent in the state.

f11photo / Shutterstock.com

Wisconsin

  • Median rent: $1,141
  • Monthly income needed: $3,803
  • Annual income needed: $45,640

Wisconsin is also one of the states where you can afford rent while making the average income. The average annual wage in the Midwestern state is $46,270.

Ron_Thomas / Getty Images

Indiana

  • Median rent: $1,113
  • Monthly income needed: $3,710
  • Annual income needed: $44,520

You can almost afford to pay rent in Indiana if you earn the state’s average income — but not quite. The average annual wage is $43,950, so renters earning that would come up $570 short for the year. Home prices have been rising in Evansville, the third-largest city in the state, so renting might be a good idea until the market settles.

Davel5957 / Getty Images

Ohio

  • Median rent: $1,113
  • Monthly income needed: $3,710
  • Annual income needed: $44,520

Ohio is one of the few states where the average annual income is enough to afford rent. The state’s average annual wage is $46,950, which is $2,430 more than what a renter would need to make.

Arpad Benedek / iStock.com

Michigan

  • Median rent: $1,110
  • Monthly income needed: $3,700
  • Annual income needed: $44,400

The average annual wage in Michigan — $48,300 — is enough to afford rent with $3,900 left over. Michigan has the 10th-lowest income needed to afford rent of all the states.

Davel5957 / iStock.com

Kentucky

  • Median rent: $1,084
  • Monthly income needed: $3,613
  • Annual income needed: $43,360

Kentucky has the ninth-lowest income needed to afford rent of all the states, but for many residents it’s still not low enough. The average annual income in the state is $42,401 — $950 less than what’s needed to afford rent. Still, cities like Louisville and Lexington have some of the cheapest rents in the country.

Davel5957 / iStock.com

Iowa

  • Median rent: $1,057
  • Monthly income needed: $3,523
  • Annual income needed: $42,280

The annual income needed to afford rent in Iowa is the eighth-lowest of all the states. The average income in the state is $44,730, which is $2,450 more than what’s needed to cover rent costs.

Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

Mississippi

  • Median rent: $1,055
  • Monthly income needed: $3,517
  • Annual income needed: $42,200

Although the income needed to afford rent in Mississippi is the seventh-lowest in the study, it’s still $3,290 more than the average annual wage in the state: $38,910.

Davel5957 / iStock.com

Kansas

  • Median rent: $1,051
  • Monthly income needed: $3,503
  • Annual income needed: $42,040

Kansas has the sixth-lowest income needed to afford rent of all the states. A person making the average income in the state — $44,570 — makes $2,530 more than what is needed to afford rent. Even big cities in Kansas, like Wichita, have affordable rental prices.

f11photo / Shutterstock.com

Missouri

  • Median rent: $1,047
  • Monthly income needed: $3,490
  • Annual income needed: $41,880

The income needed to afford rent is the fifth-lowest in Missouri compared to all of the states. The average annual wage in the state is $45,520 — $3,640 more than what’s needed to comfortably pay for rent.

Find affordable apartments in the best big cities for renters.

SeanPavonePhoto / Getty Images

Alabama

  • Median rent: $998
  • Monthly income needed: $3,327
  • Annual income needed: $39,920

If you earn the average annual wage in Alabama — $43,170 — you’ll have $3,250 more than the income needed to cover rent, assuming 30% of your income goes to rent.

Alabama is one of only 11 states where the average income is enough to cover rent costs, and it has the fourth-lowest income needed to cover rent costs of all the states.

Davel5957 / iStock.com

Arkansas

  • Median rent: $953
  • Monthly income needed: $3,177
  • Annual income needed: $38,120

Arkansas has the third-lowest income needed to afford rent of all the states. With the annual average wage in the state at $40,530, someone earning the average income will make $2,410 more than what’s needed to afford rent.

tobynabors / iStock.com

Oklahoma

  • Median rent: $950
  • Monthly income needed: $3,167
  • Annual income needed: $38,000

Oklahoma requires the second-lowest income to afford rent of all the states. With an average annual wage of $43,340, an average income earner in Oklahoma makes $5,340 more than what’s needed to afford rent.

StanRohrer / iStock.com

West Virginia

  • Median rent: $888
  • Monthly income needed: $2,960
  • Annual income needed: $35,520

West Virginia is an affordable place to live — it requires the lowest income for renters of all the states. A person making the state’s average annual wage — $41,400 — makes $5,880 more than what’s needed to afford rent. Rents are affordable and housing prices are, too — $300,000 will buy you the most square footage out of all states in West Virginia.

©© GOBankingRates

Can You Afford Rent in Your State?

If you are earning the average salary in your state, chances are you can’t afford to pay rent. Only 11 states have an average annual wage that is enough to cover the cost of rent for a year, assuming that rent takes up 30 percent of your paycheck.

Of course, rental costs are much higher in some states than in others. The states where you’ll need the most income to afford rent are Washington, D.C., California, Hawaii, Massachusetts and New Jersey.

The states where you’ll need the least income to afford rent are West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Alabama and Missouri.

More From GOBankingRates

Methodology: GOBankingRates calculated the salary needed to afford rent in every state by using the budget rule of thumb that says to keep housing costs at 30 percent or less of your income. GOBankingRates found the median rent for single-family residences in each state, sourced from Zillow, and worked backward to find the monthly income needed to have monthly and yearly rent consume 30 percent or less of income. Average annual wages were sourced from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.