According to the 2012 report “Out of Reach,” Virginia is one of the most expensive states for home renters. In fact, if one were to compare all southeastern states, Virginia would be the most expensive for home renters. Because different sections of the nation may vary on the cost of a home, one is able to determine which state is the most expensive for home renters by observing the housing wage. The housing wage is the hourly wage at which an individual can afford a two-bedroom apartment at fair market rent without devoting more than thirty percent of his/her income towards housing costs.
In Virginia, the minimum wage is a little over seven dollars per hour. For a minimum wage worker to afford a two-bedroom apartment, he or she must work more than 100 hours per week and more than fifty weeks per year. A household of two or three minimum wage workers must work forty hours per week throughout the entire year for a two-bedroom apartment to be affordable. The average person who wants to rent a two-bedroom apartment earns around fifteen dollars an hour. This renter must work a little more than fifty hours a week for fifty-two weeks to afford a two-bedroom apartment.
“In Virginia, a renter household needs one full-time job paying $20.26 per hour in order to afford a two-bedroom apartment at the fair market rent.” In other southeastern states, a renter household needs on average five dollars fewer in order to afford a two-bedroom apartment at the fair market rent. This number decreases even more in the states of West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Alabama.
There are 168 hours in a week. If one works in Richmond, to afford a two-bedroom apartment at minimum wage, one must work 80-120 hours per week. This is more than half of the amount of hours that are in a week. One must work even more hours per week if one hopes to afford a two-bedroom apartment at minimum wage in Fairfax. The required wage for a person living in Arlington to afford a two-bedroom apartment is more than twenty dollars per hour. Other cities that require an hourly wage similar to Arlington’s are Chesapeake, Williamsburg, Virginia Beach, Norfolk, and Hampton.
As shown by multiple statistics, Virginia is not a cheap state when it comes to renting affordability. Among the most affordable cities are Lexington, Martinsville, and Roanoke.