Think you’re paying too much in rent? Chances are, you’re right.
The Observer found the average rent for a two-bedroom place in Mecklenburg County increased $250 since 2011, making the payments a financial burden for more than 100,000 people.
It costs about $1,090 a month to rent a two-bedroom space in Mecklenburg County, according to Zillow, a leading online company that tracks real estate in the U.S.
In some neighborhoods, the cost is much higher, effectively eliminating the areas from thousands of would-be renters.
Rentals that cost more than 30 percent of a person's household income are considered economically burdensome, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The median household income in Mecklenburg is $56,800 annually.
A study released last year by Abodo, an apartment-tracking firm, found 48 percent of renters in Charlotte met the definition of “cost-burdened.”
The Observer’s analysis of Zillow's data found similar results. Consider:
▪ Renters in at least 14 neighborhoods, many south of uptown, would have to bring home more than the county's median household income to afford a two-bedroom place without it being financially troublesome.
▪ Renters in at least nine neighborhoods would have to earn more than $60,000 to comfortably afford a place.
▪ Renters in at least two neighborhoods – Eastover just south of uptown and Beverly Woods near SouthPark Mall – would have to make more than $110,000.
▪ It’s possible that prospective renters are priced out of other areas since Zillow’s data, released in January, did not provide information on every Mecklenburg neighborhood.
On average, rents for two-bedroom places in Mecklenburg increased 5 percent last year. Rents in at least 14 neighborhoods, including Plaza Midwood and Myers Park, cost at least $1,400.
That’s what Lisa Speer’s rent costs for her two-bedroom apartment in Plaza Midwood, where she moved recently. She’s getting a roommate in April to help cut costs.
She picked the neighborhood because it fits her brand-building company, Speer Creative Edge. Plus, an apartment is more convenient than a house: “I don’t want to spend time on upkeep.”
But she believes there are too many luxury apartments being built, and she was looking for a modest apartment with basic amenities.
“NoDa looked like it was getting even pricier because of the light rail. And Elizabeth was very comparable to Plaza Midwood,” Speer said.
Igor Gorlatov and his wife and son, almost 3, recently upgraded from a one to a two-bedroom apartment in the McAlpine Creek area, to get ready for a baby on the way.
His current rent, $1,035, is close to what he expected. But rent eats up about 60 percent of his monthly earnings as founder of a consulting startup. That’s twice the percentage of income that housing experts say households should spend on rent.
“It is a big chunk of our expenses, of course,” said Gorlatov, who runs Successful Negotiators Club.
“It was a challenge to find the right place, and find a place that would accept not a regular income that your employer would give you, but my entrepreneurial status.”
Rising rents may mean sacrifices for households that are balancing other pressing expenses, from childcare to food to medical costs, according to Ashley Williams Clark, a researcher with UNC Charlotte Urban Institute.
“In some circumstances, they’re going to have to make tradeoffs,” Clark said.