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Miami-Dade is one of the most expensive areas in the nation for renters

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Priced out of Paradise: City in Transition

Miami-Dade is the most expensive metro in the U.S. for renters and one of the costliest for home buyers. This series explains why that’s so and what it means for the region and its residents. Our interactive tool helps renters and buyers match their budgets to affordable neighborhoods. Future stories will explore solutions to South Florida’s housing crisis.

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When it comes to renting a place to live, Miami-Dade is one of the most expensive large counties in the nation, according to U.S. Census data.

In 2017, Miami-Dade renters spent more than 38 percent of the median household income on rent. That made renting here more expensive than the counties that are home to Los Angeles, Brooklyn, N.Y., and Chicago.

Families that spend more than 30 percent of their gross income on housing are considered “cost-burdened.” In Miami-Dade, more than 60 percent of renting households fall into that category — more, again, than in other major counties. Broward County residents don’t fare much better; 58 percent of Broward renters are considered cost-burdened.

Homeowners fare a bit better. As of 2017, homeowners in Miami-Dade paid 22.7 percent of household income on annual housing costs.. That’s similar to Los Angeles and Brooklyn but more than in the counties for Chicago, Dallas or Houston. (In Miami-Dade, as elsewhere, homeowners skew wealthier than the total population. The median household income of Miami-Dade homeowners is $68,061, significantly more than the total county median household income of $49,930.)

A critical factor at work: wages, which are significantly lower in the Miami region than many other major metros. In the area defined by Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties, the median hourly wage was $17.20 in 2018. Compare that with San Francisco ($26.00), Seattle ($24.45) and even Houston ($19.05). And while Miami-Dade home values have grown rapidly — up 66 percent from 2007 to 2017 — income has grown only about 14 percent over the same period.

Throughout the 21st century, living in paradise has come at a stiff price. In 1999, the county’s renters spent 30.5 percent of median income on housing. By 2007, just before the housing bust, Miami-Dade renters were spending 37.4 percent of median household income on rent. By 2011, they were spending 40 percent, slightly above the current rate.

But the cost of living involves more than housing. Transportation, groceries, insurance and other factors are part of the equation. The Economic Policy Institute, a progressive think tank, found South Florida (including Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties) was the 23rd most expensive place to live, well behind Washington, D.C., Boston and Boulder, Colorado.

Here’s a rundown on how Miami-Dade compares with select areas. (A longer list appears online at

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By household:

Miami-Dade: $49,930

Broward: $56,842

Chicago: $68,403

Los Angeles: $69,992

New York City: $75,368

San Diego: $76,207

Silicon Valley: $117,474


Percentage of median household income spent on rent:

Silicon Valley: 28.7 percent

Chicago: 29.6 percent

New York City: 31.7 percent

San Diego: 33.4 percent

Los Angeles: 33.9 percent

Broward: 35.3 percent

Miami-Dade: 38.4 percent


Percentage of renters spending more than 30 percent of household income on housing:

Silicon Valley: 45.2 percent

Chicago: 45.9 percent

New York City: 50.4 percent

Los Angeles: 55 percent

San Diego: 55 percent

Broward: 58.1 percent

Miami-Dade: 60.7 percent