Rent inflation is skyrocketing across the U.S. and it’s forcing millions of people to relocate. Some have had to leave behind their native cities to find affordable housing for their families.
Jonathan “JonKel” Kelly is one of them. A Miami native and poet who also works with youth at a nonprofit, Kelly said he ultimately landed in Port St. Lucie with his wife, two children and mother.
Because Miami’s cost of living was already high pre-pandemic, Kelly moved to Central Broward to find affordable housing. However, with the onset of the pandemic and having two kids 16 months apart, Kelly said skyrocketing prices caused forced him to move again to find an affordable home that met his family’s needs.
“I couldn’t find what I needed for my family [in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties]. Because my family had grown so quicky, I needed more space,” Kelly told The Moguldom Nation in an interview. “We were looking in the $350,000 range for a two-bedroom, two-bath townhouse, but we ended up in Port St. Lucie because we got a four-bedroom, three-bath home with a two-car garage on a quarter acre lot for under $250,000. We’re talking $100,000 difference, so I had to make this move.”
“I swear every time I went a little further north; it got a little cheaper,” said Kelly, who still commutes more than an hour-and-a-half to work in Miami.
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His story is not unique, but at least Kelly gets some reprieve by being an actual homeowner. For renters, the situation is much more dire. Average rents rose 14 percent in 2021, according to real estate firm Redfin, The Washington Post reported.
In cities such as Miami, New York and Austin, those numbers are closer to 40 percent. It’s a reality 32-year-old single mother of two Kiara Age knows all too well. Her rent rose 23 percent to $1,600 for her two-bedroom apartment.
Though she’d only been living there for one year, Age said she has to move again because her $15-dollar-per hour salary as a medical biller can’t keep pace.
“I am trying to figure out what I can do,” Age told the Post. “Rent is so high that I can’t afford anything.”
Even couples with two incomes are struggling with skyrocketing rental fees and being paced out of the rental and homeownership markets by wealthy, all-cash buyers. Data from 2018 showed one in four renters spend more than half their monthly income on rent.
Aleksei Valentín, 39, and his husband downsized from a one-bedroom to a studio in Frederick, Md. after their former landlord continued to raise amenity fees and began nitpicking about things.
“First the fees started going up, and then we started getting notices that if we didn’t put our trash out exactly like they liked, we’d have to start paying fines,” Valentín told the Post. “The more people moved out, the more the amenity fees went up.
“Prices are so high, inflation is astronomical, and the house my parents bought for $30,000 in the late ’70s is worth over half a million today,” Valentín added. “How can [we] enter into that market without intergenerational wealth? It’s impossible.”
With housing inventory on the decline and demand rising, landlords across the U.S. are taking advantage of the housing situation created by the pandemic. Redfin’s chief economist Daryl Fairweather said it’s now a common trend.
“Rents really shot up in the second half of 2021,” Fairweather said. “The pandemic was kind of a pause on the economy and now that things are reopening, inflation is picking up, rents are going up and people are realizing they don’t have as much disposable income as they might have thought they had.”