Ah, the holidays: dodging people from high school while scouring the mall for something your little sister won’t hate. Squeezing into a folding chair on a Spirit Airlines flight so you and your family can yell about politics over Christmas turkey. Then, eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the first few weeks of the new year, because you live in Miami, and the rent is too damn expensive even when you aren’t forking over hundreds of dollars for gifts and travel.
A new study from the real estate website RentCafé found the average renter in Miami ends the holiday season $300 in debt. In the two months that include Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, Miamians spend an average of $3,300 in rent and $2,600 on expenses. With an average income of $6,600 over those two months, there’s not much wiggle room (just $700!), and holiday spending inevitably leaves people in debt.
Miami is one of ten out of the top 20 major metro areas where renters end up in the red, according to the RentCafé study. Tenants in cities like St. Louis and Detroit, where rent is cheaper, and Washington, D.C., and Seattle, where the pay is higher, come out with money in the bank. The study says Seattle renters are in the best shape, with $1,700 left over, followed by St. Louis with $1,500 and D.C. with $1,100.
Meanwhile, the Magic City finds itself among the other notoriously expensive cities in the United States. There’s San Francisco, where renters head into the new year $900 in debt, and Los Angeles, where they’re out $1,600. And then there’s New York City, which came in dead last, with renters rounding out the holidays a whopping $4,200 in the red.
That Miami made the list came as no surprise to the people behind the RentCafé study. They point to a spike over the last four years in workers renting places in the city, in addition to growth in the nonnative population and in holiday travel.
“Miami is one of the hottest markets we’ve got going right now,” says Doug Ressler, manager of operations for RentCafé sister company Yardi, which conducted the research.
And in fact, Miami’s standing shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone paying even an ounce of attention to the city’s affordable housing crisis. Research has repeatedly shown how screwed Miami renters are: Those living here spend more of their income on rent than residents of any other city in America. Forbes ranked the city the absolute worst place in the country to rent an apartment. Even people with roommates can’t afford it.
The RentCafé study is just the latest, holiday-themed confirmation that living in Miami is becoming impossibly expensive.
Unless something finally changes around here and local elected officials get serious about creating affordable housing — something the city of Miami is giving a try near the Adrienne Arsht Center — renters might as well start saving for Christmas 2019, like, right now.