The typical house in California is two bedrooms. This is traditionally considered a pretty standard starting point for homeownership. However, many individuals in California can’t even afford to rent a home of that size, let alone buy it. Between October 2020 and September 2021, the average Fair Market Rent value for a 2-bedroom home in California was measured at $2030 per month. Ideally, rent should be at most 30% of your income, meaning that in order to afford to rent a 2-bedroom home, a household would need to earn $6766 per month, or $39.03 per hour. With the average renter income being $25 per hour, a dual-income household is mandatory to be able to afford to rent a 2-bedroom house. Minimum wage workers have it even worse — at a minimum wage of $14 in California during that time period, even dual income is not enough. Minimum wage is barely higher now at $15 per hour.
So what about smaller homes? Well, unfortunately, it’s still not good enough. The average FMR for a studio — which would only be able to comfortably house one person — is $1394. But at $25 per hour, the most one person can comfortably afford is $1294 per month. At $14 per hour, minimum wage workers could only afford to pay $728 per month, which is a little over half of the rent for a studio. This is assuming full time employment, as well, and not all households have full time workers. Taking the average household income, and making sure to use only 30% of it for rent, the average household could only afford a rent of $706 per month, even less than a full time minimum wage individual.
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