Do you know what you’d need to make to afford a decent one-bedroom apartment in the US?  Well, you may be surprised to know not one single county in America has a one-bedroom “housing wage” lower than the federal minimum wage of $7.25.

Washington Post reporters, Emily Badge and Christopher Ingraham wrote an interesting article and the results are staggering.

The government set housing rates, called “fair market rents” which include rent plus utilities, based on the local market for decent-quality apartments of different sizes.  These rates are also used by HUD to establish local housing subsidies.

The NLIHC (National Low Income Housing Coalition) used the fair market rents to calculate how much a person needs to earn hourly to afford modest, two-bedroom accommodations.

Arkansas had the most counties to tie for the least expensive housing wage at $7.98 an hour.

Among the most expensive are coastal and urban counties.  The entire Boston-New York-Washington corridor, San Francisco and San Mateo counties in California rank as the least affordable in the country.

In each of these counties, a one-bedroom hourly housing wage is $29.83 or the equivalent to 3.7 full-time jobs at the actual minimum wage-equating to an average salary of $62,000.

Remember George W. Bush’s praise for the “uniquely American” story of the single mother of three who worked three jobs in Omaha?)

The reality is, most people either move outside city limits where housing is a lot less expensive, rent basement apartments or work considerably more than 40 hours a week to survive.

Top ten most expensive counties

State County 1-br. housing wage
California Marin $29.83
California San Francisco $29.83
California San Mateo $29.83
Hawaii Honolulu $26.58
Massachusetts Nantucket $25.83
California Orange $25.23
New York Nassau $25.17
New York Suffolk $25.17
California Santa Clara $24.87
California Alameda $24.13


None of this comes as a surprise; however, it is a bit shocking to see in black and white.  To think you need to make a minimum of $25 an hour in some areas of the US to afford just a decent one-bedroom is quite disconcerting. 

Read more here: Washington Post