How Many Hours You Must Work to Afford Rent in Denver

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Today, February 14, Mayor Michael Hancock will unveil a plan to increase minimum wage for city workers and some city contractors to $15 an hour by 2021. As a result, Denver will join a host of cities and states around the U.S. that have or will increase the minimum wage for local workers, including New York, Arkansas and Florida.

Hancock's timing is handy, because while Denver's real estate market has cooled slightly in recent months, the median sales price for a house in this city went from a little more than $250,000 in March 2014 to just under $400,000 in September 2018, according to data from Trulia.

A Smart Asset study of the ten most expensive cities in which to live in the U.S. found that a worker in Denver must put in about seventy hours a month at the office in order to afford the average rent price of $1,286. That's based on average take-home pay of a Mile High worker, which is $18.39...far above what Hancock is proposing. And the study doesn't take into consideration other necessities, such as food and utilities.

"The average rental in Denver is fairly expensive, but thankfully for locals, pay is pretty good as well," the study's author says.

California cities accounted for the three most expensive areas in the survey, and renters in San Jose have it the worst: They have to put in 97 hours a month to afford that Bay Area city's median rent of $2,109 per month.

New Yorkers spend about 40 percent of their income on rent, and their average hourly take-home pay is about a dollar less than Denver's. There's good news for the Big Apple, though: "The total time they need to work a month to pay rent is down about an hour from last year," the study says. 

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Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.