Can You Afford an Apartment? Dallas Rent Growth Slows, But Values Still Exist in the Suburbs

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There’s a serious shortage of affordable rentals in Dallas, but some data shows that prices are dropping. That’s good news considering that wages, when compared to housing costs, are creating a gap in affordability that is causing a whole swath of renters to become “cost burdened.”

“Dallas, specifically, ranks No. 47 when it comes to cost burdened renters, with 47 percent of the local renters spending at least 30 percent of their income on rent,” said Sam Radbil of Abodo. “Outside of Dallas, when looking at the data on a national level, the study revealed that almost half of the top 20 cities with the most cost burdened renters are located in California.”

Abodo’s numbers show that Dallas rents dropped .2 percent in October from the previous month, but are up 5.3 percent year-over-year. However, according to RentCafe, Plano is actually quite affordable, with only 25 percent of a renter’s annual income going toward rent. Irving is also quite affordable.

According to Apartment List, affordable rentals are increasingly found outside the Dallas city limits.

In Dallas, though, the market has seen an influx of luxury rentals for those who eschew homeownership in favor of low-maintenance, non-committal leasing. This has meant that fewer affordable units have been built, pushing residents outside of the city, creating longer commutes, and overall increasing transportation costs for those who can least afford it. You can see the results in Apartment List‘s recent breakdown of median two-bedroom rental costs.

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“With rent rates rising across the nation, our research team at ABODO began thinking about how rent is becoming an extreme cost burden many people,” Radbil said. “So, we set out to uncover how many people are truly struggling to pay their rent. What we found was that nearly half of all renters face a cost burden and in 99 out of the 100 metropolitan statistical areas in the U.S. with the most renters, 40 percent of renters are spending at least 30 percent of their income on rent.”

But Dallas, with its far-reaching borders and diversity, is difficult to categorize.

“Clearly, a blanket statement regarding the entire city of Dallas is unrealistic — to simply say rentals are getting more expensive or less expensive,” says apartment locator Ashley Stanley of Ashley’s Apartments. “Each neighborhood has pockets of market growth.”

In Texas, Dallas ranks third out of the four major metro areas in cost-burdened renters.

And RentCafe’s study shows, there are some pockets of affordability. But in some cases, more renters are seeking out ways to stay closer to cities through HUD subsidies. Although, that’s not always easy considering that HUD bases its subsidies not on the affordability of rentals, but instead on an applicant’s income.

“Some of the largest cities in the U.S., those that usually have the highest rent, actually have less cost burdened renters than we initially thought,” said Radbil. “And while it’s clear that a huge number of renters are cost burdened across the country, in both large and small cities, HUD subsidy benefits are limited to just a small number of the burdened renters.”


For those that don’t qualify for subsidies, the other option to manage rising rental costs is to cut their overall housing budget.

“I am seeing people pulling back on their base rent budget because many apartments are choosing to add ancillary charges on top, i.e. parking, valet trash, pet rent, and the all-encompassing ‘amenity’ fee,” Stanley added. “Owners are looking for ways to profit on any budgeted line items they perceive worthy of a cost to the end user.”

Another option renters are considering is moving outside of the more expensive urban areas, though that increases transportation costs and often creates other burdens on the renter. However, in the search for affordable apartments, Stanley says that there are some areas that are quite attractive to renters.

“Areas of town that I see are meeting the need for cost-burdened renters are Richardson, Garland, Far East Dallas, Southwest Dallas, the Mid-Cities, and West Fort Worth,” she said.

Affordable apartments can be found in West Fort Worth, the Mid-Cities, Southwest Dallas, and Far East Dallas, says apartment locator Ashley Stanley.
Affordable apartments can be found in Richardson, Garland, West Fort Worth, the Mid-Cities, Southwest Dallas, and Far East Dallas, says apartment locator Ashley Stanley.

Here’s hoping that developers see the need for affordable apartments inside the Dallas city limits.


Joanna England

If Executive Editor Joanna England could house hunt forever, she absolutely would. Instead she covers the North Texas housing market and the economy for While she started out with the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University, Joanna's work has appeared in The Dallas Morning News as well as several local media outlets. When she's not knitting or hooping, or enjoying White Rock Lake, she's behind the lens of her camera. She lives in East Dallas with her husband, son, and their furry and feathered menagerie.

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