U.S. Rental Housing Statistics

Rental Housing

Median U.S. gross rent, 2016:

$981/month

—American Community Survey, 1-Year Estimate

The American Community Survey, conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, publishes detailed estimates about rental housing throughout the United States each year. Gross rent includes both the contract rent and any additional utility and fuel costs.

Unlike the Census—which is an exact count of people and households every ten years—ACS statistics are estimated based on a representative survey sample. (The data in this story only considers occupied rental housing with rent payments.)

How does the median rent vary by state? 

Hawaii had the highest median rent in 2016, at $1,483/month. California had the second highest, at $1,375/month. The state with the least expensive median rent in 2016 was West Virginia, at $682/month. 

How does median rent vary by the size of rental units? 

How much occupied rental housing is unaffordable? 

This chart shows counts of rental housing units in the United States, broken down by their affordability—that is, the gross rent as a percentage of household income. According to longstanding convention (pdf), households that spend 30 percent or more of their income on housing are considered "burdened" by housing costs that they may not be able to afford. While the 30-percent rule of thumb is not a perfect measure of unaffordable housing, it can be a useful indicator for identifying vulnerable households. 

How much do Americans spend on rent in aggregate?

$46 billion 

in 2016. 

The ACS releases estimated rent cost aggregations based on its survey data. These aggregations are further broken down by the size and composition of the rental structure—for example, stand-alone rental homes, multi-unit apartment complexes, and mobile homes.