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Financial Strain: The Rising Rent Barriers of 2024

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Struggling to make rent these days? The numbers confirm your suspicions. With the median rent in the United States hitting $1,702, individuals would need to rake in $5,673 per month – that’s $68,080 annually – just to keep a roof overhead, reports RentCafe, a renowned national rental service. Given the average yearly earnings of full-time workers pegged at $59,540 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, it’s no surprise that American renters are feeling the crunch.

As if that isn’t daunting enough, there are four states where a six-figure income is a prerequisite to afford the median rent. We delve into the particulars of these states. But for the curious souls out there, we also delve into the three states where rents are more forgiving. Prepare to be surprised.

The beautiful coastline Honolulu Hawaii shot from an altitude of about 500 feet during a helicopter photo flight over the Pacific Ocean.

The High Cost of Paradise: Hawaii

Paradise often comes at a price. Hawaii, the Aloha State, consistently tops the charts for the highest cost of living in the nation. A significant factor contributing to this distinction is likely the exorbitant rental prices, with a statewide median rent of $2,512. To comfortably afford this, individuals must bring home $8,373 monthly – equating to an annual income of $100,480. While the Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t include β€œsurf instructor” on the list, it’s safe to say it won’t make the cut. This is exacerbated by the fact that the average annual income for all occupations in Hawaii stands at a mere $65,030. On the bright side – no heating or winter attire bills to foot.

the skyline of los angeles during sunset.

California Dreaming… and Paying: California

Sunshine, mountains, oceans – what’s not to love about California? It has all the ingredients for a fulfilling life. However, it comes at a cost. With a median rent of $2,531 across the state, residents need to earn a cool $101,240 annually, or almost $8,500 per month, to comfortably reside in the Golden State. Adding to the hardship is the fact that the average annual wage across all occupations in California stands at $76,960.

New York City skyline at sunset with Brooklyn Bridge and Lower Manhattan.

The Concrete Jungle: New York

They say if you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere. With a median rent price of $2,639, this adage holds true. New Yorkers must pocket at least $105,560 annually, nearly $8,800 per month. Unfortunately, the average annual wage of New Yorkers clocks in at $78,620. Let that sink in – the rent stat covers the entire state. Venture closer to the action, and brace yourself for even higher costs. Consider Manhattan, where an average-sized apartment (703 square feet) – essentially a glorified shoebox – will set you back $4,768 on average.

Waltham is a city in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States.

Bay State Burden: Massachusetts

Outshining the usual suspects of New York and California in the race for the highest median rent nationwide is Massachusetts – the historic New England enclave. With a monthly median rent of $2,714, residing comfortably in The Bay State necessitates a monthly income of at least $9,000, or precisely $108,560 yearly. However, with the average annual income in Massachusetts falling significantly short at $80,330, finding a roommate might be on the agenda.

Bentonville Arkansas stock photo

States With Attainable Rents

North Dakota

North Dakota, home to the infamous Badlands, boasts reasonable rents, with a median of $1,046. Earning a monthly income of $3,487, or $41,840 per year, promises comfortable lodging in this northern state. North Dakotans have a fighting chance, considering the average annual wage for all occupations sits at $59,050.


Securing the second spot for the nation’s most affordable rent is Arkansas, with a median rent of just $1,036. An annual income of $41,440, or $3,453 per month, places individuals in a favorable position in this state known for its mountains, rivers, and hot springs. With the state boasting an average annual wage of $51,250, it proves to be a fitting choice for many.


Emerging with the most budget-friendly median rent in the nation is Arkansas’s neighbor, Oklahoma. At a modest $989 per month, Oklahoma denizens must earn an annual income of $39,560, or $3,297 per month, to effortlessly meet the median rent costs. With the state’s average wage standing at $53,540 per year, the outlook seems brighter in the Sooner State.

Methodology: GOBankingRates determined the salary required to afford rent in each state by following the budget guideline that recommends housing costs should not exceed 30 percent of income. The median rents for each state were sourced from RentCafe, and calculations were worked backward to ascertain the monthly income required to ensure that monthly and yearly rent payments remain within 30 percent of total income. All information is current as of February 15, 2024.

This article was originally featured on GOBankingRates.com: Housing Costs 2024: You Need To Make Six Figures To Afford Rent in These 4 States

The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not reflect the opinions of Nasdaq, Inc.

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