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Wealthy renters on the rise in Austin

Affluent consumers increasingly drive market

When we put together our Curbed Comparisons this week to see what we could find to rent for $5,500/month, it was done partly as a lark and partly due to morbid curiosity. Seeing as the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city right now is around $1,100, we thought whatever we found would be ridiculous (and it was).

A new report from RentCafé, however, reveals that it wasn’t as far off the mark as we thought. Austin, it seems, is moving in the direction of San Francisco, New York, and Fort Worth (?) as a place that attracts increasing numbers of affluent renters—high-income residents who, for whatever reasons, choose to lease rather than buy a home.

CIting 2015 American Community Survey, the website reported that about 1.2 million wealthy U.S. households became renters in the U.S. in the last 10 years and that from 2005 to 2015, the number of renter households who earn more than $150,000/year increased by 217 percent; homeowning households within the same income bracket, meanwhile, increased a measly 82 percent.

While high-end renters still tend to cluster in dense urban areas such as New York and San Francisco (the poster child for affluent renters, who outnumber high-income homeowners), the rate of increase in smaller cities has picked up significantly in other cities in the past five years, according to the report.

Digging into U.S. Census Bureau numbers, to find the 10 cities had the most significant increases in the number of high-income renting households from 2014-2015, the site came up with some interesting findings (namely, that Fort Worth is at the top, but also that Austin takes the eighth spot, with a 31 percent increase in high-income renters since last year). The site also compared those increases with changes in number of homeowners in the same income bracket, shown on the chart below.