Two-Thirds of Renters Make Sacrifices to Afford Rent

Entertainment spending is the most common sacrifice, but some cancel health services or eliminate insurance.

According to Zillow data, the U.S. median rent consumes 27.8% of the median income—close to the 30% point, where rent is considered unaffordable, and 32%, above which homelessness can rapidly increase.

In the 2019 Zillow Consumer Trends report, 26% of renters say that affording their rent is difficult or very difficult. Most renters—66%—make at least one sacrifice in order to afford rent. Nationally, the most common sacrifice is entertainment spending, with 38% of renters reporting spending less on entertainment. However, some make more serious sacrifices—9% will postpone or cancel health services, while 12% will reduce or eliminate downpayment savings.

Sacrifices aside, renters are financially strapped enough that only 51% say they could accommodate a $1,000 expense, compared to 80% of homeowners. Older renters are less likely to say they could afford such an expense: Only 38% of boomer and silent generation renters, compared to 60% of Gen Z and 54% of millennial renters.

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