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Tampa, despite low-cost image, creeps onto high-rent list

Three of the top 10 high-rent cities on a new Freddie Mac report are in Florida.

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  • | 6:00 a.m. April 12, 2019
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Perception isn’t necessarily reality when it comes to the costliest cities to live in nationally, based on rents, wages and other factors.

For starters, traditional high-cost cities, such as Boston, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., aren’t in the top 10 of a new report from Freddie Mac, the low-to-medium income, government-backed multifamily housing finance agency. In the study, the most rent-burdened metropolitan statistical areas, San Francisco is No. 13, while Washington and Boston aren’t on the list.

The Top 20, instead, includes three Florida cities: The Miami MSA is No. 1, Orlando is No. 5 and Tampa, even with its low-cost-of-living mojo, is No. 7. Jacksonville, another city pegged as low-cost, is No. 25.

The analysis, according to a Freddie Mac statement, aggregates data from four of the most widely cited affordability studies of the top 50 largest metros. San Diego is No. 2 behind Miami on the Freddie Mac list, followed by Los Angeles and New York. “Our research shows that supply just hasn’t kept pace with demand in many metros, and that’s pushing affordable rents out of reach for millions of American families,” says Steve Guggenmos, vice president of Freddie Mac Multifamily Research and Modeling, in the statement.

Specific to Florida, the report notes that while Miami “has long been considered one of the least affordable cities in the country due to its high rental costs and relatively modest income levels, the other major cities in Florida are generally thought of as affordable.”

Yet a deeper look at Orlando, Tampa and Jacksonville, the report states, shows that the lack of affordability stems from a low supply of affordable units for people who make less than the area median income. “This likely boils down to the relatively modest median incomes in these cities, which average just over $50,000 per year overall, and $35,500 for renter households,” the report states. Both those figures are over 10% less than the median income of the top 50 metro areas, the report states, citing Furman Center data.

Another point: the gap between low income and high rents in Florida remains wide. To wit, the report states that despite “significantly lower than average income, the average median rent in the four cities in Florida is only about 2% lower than the median rent in the top 50 metros.”

And no scapegoating the elderly. “The relative lack of affordability in the large cities of Florida does not appear to be due to the high number of retired seniors, as one might suspect,” the report states. “The actual percentage of Florida households with senior renters is 20.7% whereas the national average is 24.9%” not statistically significant.




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