Ask many metro Phoenix renters, and you’ll hear the same complaint: The cost of leasing the roof over their heads is getting tougher to afford.
And they're not imagining it.
Higher rents recently landed the Valley on a top 10 list of U.S. cities where renters have the toughest time stretching their wages to pay rent.
The average Valley renter must use more than a week-and-a-half of their monthly pay to afford the typical one-bedroom apartment, according to SmartAsset.
That puts the area at no. 9 on the personal finance research firm's list of cities where renters have to work the most hours to afford an apartment.
It's a ranking that puts metro Phoenix in the company of San Jose, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and San Diego - and we don't even get the ocean views to go along with the high prices.
Phoenix-area rents still look affordable compared those cities, but it’s also about incomes.
The average Phoenix worker takes home $14.59 an hour after taxes and other deductions, according to SmartAsset.
To cover an average $960 rent in metro Phoenix, the typical Valley resident must work almost 66 hours.
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In San Jose, Calif., the worst city for renters on the list, the average worker earns $47,030 - almost double metro Phoenix's average worker pay, according to the Arizona Office for Economic Opportunity. A San Jose worker must put in almost 90 hours a month to afford the typical rent of $1,919.
San Jose’s average rent is almost double metro Phoenix’s too. But wages in the California city are rising faster than in Phoenix, and its rents are climbing more slowly.
Valley apartment rents have climbed about 20 percent since 2014, while wages in the Phoenix area are up by less than half that much.
Longtime Arizona economist and real estate analyst Elliott Pollack recently told a group of builders what the Valley needs to continue to grow is more “worker apartments” that people can afford.
It’s not that there a lack of apartments in the Phoenix area, particularly new ones. Almost 17,000 were recently built, are underway or planned.
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But most of the new ones are upscale apartments with rents above what the typical Valley worker can afford, even with more than two weeks of their earnings.
Also, some affordable apartments were torn down to make way for new pricey ones.
This is the first year SmartAsset did this ranking. But its report on rent problems for workers in Phoenix isn’t the first on the issue and won’t be the last unless wages start to catch up to rents.
But there is some hope for struggling renters.
If too many new Valley apartments go up and don’t fill up, rents could fall.