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What Percentage of Income Should Go to Rent? We Tapped 8 Women to See What They Actually Spend
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It’s a recommendation thrown out by financial planners everywhere. What percentage of income should go to rent? In a perfect world, they suggest you spend no more than 30 percent of your gross pay on housing. (We repeat, in a perfect world.) Where did this calculation come from? It’s actually a ratio the government has been using since 1981—spend any more on housing and you could find yourself “cost-burdened,” according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

This got us curious: How many people are making this recommended ratio a personal budgeting rule? We asked eight people (single and coupled up) to weigh in and do the math on their monthly housing costs. The results: The women we know are—for the most part—staying well below the 30 percent mark. Brava, ladies!

The One with the Huge Down Payment

Household Income: $105,000
Monthly Rent/Mortgage: $1,415
Percentage Spent on Housing: 16%
Location: New York

“To be fair, I put close to 50 percent down when we bought our house, so we have an unusually low mortgage.”

The One Who Pays Half Her Salary in Rent

Household Income: $43,000
Monthly Rent/Mortgage: $1,750
Percentage Spent on Housing: 50%
Location: New York

“Yes, the ratio is burdensome. I guess that’s the tradeoff for living in New York!”

The Couple with Homeowner Dreams

Household Income: $100,000
Monthly Rent/Mortgage: $1,750
Percentage Spent on Housing: 21%
Location: New York

“Even though we spend less than 30 percent on housing, it can still feel like a lot. We’re trying to save for a house, so we try to cut other expenses—like eating out—where we can.”

The One Who Proved Cohabitating Pays Off

Household Income: $190,000
Monthly Rent/Mortgage: $2,400
Percentage Spent on Housing: 15%
Location: Pennsylvania

“I’m tempted to give you my numbers before I moved in with my boyfriend. The ratio was definitely not so good!”

The Couple Worried About Childcare Costs

Household Income: $140,000
Monthly Rent/Mortgage: $3,290
Percentage Spent on Housing: 28%
Location: California

“This monthly payment is hard for us, mostly because we have significant childcare costs. Once our kids are in public school, we expect to feel less crunched month to month.”

The High Earners with the Solid Mortgage

Household Income: $325,000
Monthly Rent/Mortgage: $3,400
Percentage Spent on Housing: 13%
Location: Ohio

“We have a 15-year mortgage, and I certainly don’t find this ratio burdensome.”

The Couple Whose House *Is* the Investment

Household Income: $165,000
Monthly Rent/Mortgage: $3,114
Percentage Spent on Housing: 23%
Location: Maryland

“Being in our home makes us so happy. And we love knowing we’re building equity each month.”

The Couple Who Bought a Home to Lower the Ratio

Household Income: $215,000
Monthly Rent/Mortgage: $2,300
Percentage Spent on Housing: 13%
Location: Washington

“There was one point where we were paying 30 percent of our income toward housing, but after buying, our value went up—as did our taxes and income.”

RELATED: 6 Bidding Tips for First-Time Home Buyers

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