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Making It in San Diego: Renting is cheaper than buying a home, study shows

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Posted at 3:35 PM, Jan 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-10 12:27:22-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - It’s more affordable to rent than buy a home in San Diego, according to a report released Thursday.

The 2020 Rental Affordability Report consisting of census data compiled by ATTOM Data Solutions broke down the figures for counties nationwide.

Although the price of owning a median-priced three-bedroom home was more affordable than renting in 53 percent of U.S. counties studied, renting was a better financial decision in highly populated suburban or urban areas.

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In counties with a population of more than one million people, including San Diego, renting was a more affordable option 84 percent of the time. Los Angeles County and the counties of Phoenix, Las Vegas, San Francisco, and Seattle were also included in the figure.

San Diego made the list of major counties where rents consume the highest percentage of average wages.

1. Santa Cruz County: 82.1 percent
2. Marin County: 75.3 percent
3. Park County, CO (Denver): 74.3 percent
4. Honolulu County, HI: 74.2 percent
5. Kauai County, HI: 73.7 percent
6. Kings County, NY (Brooklyn): 65.3 percent
7. Orange County: 64.7 percent
8. San Diego County: 59.6 percent
9. Contra Costa County: 58.4 percent
10. Queens County, NY: 57.4 percent

San Diego was also one of the counties where home prices rose faster than wages and wage growth outpaced rent growth.

RELATED: Making It in San Diego: City may weigh 'vacancy tax' targeting empty homes

Regions where buying is the best idea included Miami, Tampa, Detroit, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh.

“Home ownership is a better deal than renting for the average wage earner in a slim majority of U.S. housing markets. However, there are distinct differences between different places, depending on the size and location from core metro areas,” said Todd Teta, chief product officer with ATTOM Data Solutions. “For sure, either buying or renting is a financial stretch or out of reach for individual wage earners throughout most of the country in the current climate. But with interest rates falling, owning a home can still be the more affordable option, even as prices keep rising.”

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The report included 2019 and 2020 data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Bureau of Labor Statistics, and public record sales data from ATTOM Data Solutions. Read the full study here.