Booming Economy Driving Up Dallas Rents. Incomes not so Much

Don't ask how much.
Don't ask how much. Joe Potato/iStock
Ivan Garcia was born in Dallas and lived in the city for most of his life, but he was still shocked when he began apartment hunting in February. He didn’t know that his first apartment would cost so much — especially in his own hometown.

North Texas has seen the average price of apartment rent increase 35 percent since 2010, according to a report from RealPage, The Dallas Morning News reported Monday. Average income has not kept pace. "An average North Texas apartment will run you more than $1,100 a month, according to the latest data from RealPage," the DMN's Steve Brown wrote.

“There’s a dramatic price difference in rent prices at College Station and rent prices in Dallas,” Garcia said. He graduated from Texas A&M in 2017 and is making $35,000 at his first job out of college, making it hard to adjust to Dallas’ rent prices. “I went from paying $600 a month to paying way more than that, and I feel like I got a deal too. It was definitely shocking to see a $400, $500 price jump compared to what I was paying in college.”

Median household income in DFW was $48,622 in 2010 and increased to $56,583 in 2016, a 16 percent increase that has not kept up with the 35 percent apartment rent increase in that same period of time, and neither number takes inflation into account.

While many, like Garcia, looking to get their hands on their first place in Dallas are finding it hard to rent affordable apartments in the city, some Dallasites are unable to afford staying in their own homes.

"It was definitely shocking to see a $400, $500 price jump compared to what I was paying in college.” – Ivan Garcia

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Ellen Magnis, who works for Family Gateway, a Dallas nonprofit that provides services to families affected by homelessness, said the nonprofit has seen calls to the center double since last year.

“If you're making $10 per hour or $15 per hour or even $20 an hour between two parents and you’ve got a family of four, it is really tough to survive on that, so even a slight increase in rent could be all it takes to have that family end up on our door,” Magnis said.

Garcia said he struck a deal for a cheaper rent in North Dallas through a leasing agent on Instagram and moved into his apartment in April without a problem, and he feels fortunate.

“I’m lucky because I’m only paying $1,080 plus utilities on a place that’s normally $1,400 a month,” he said. “That's still high but better than the original price, better than what other people are paying right now.”

Magnis said she worries about the steadily increasing need for Family Gateway’s services and what that means for low-income people in Dallas.

“There are a lot of families in need. Not all of them need shelter, some of them are just looking for ways to stay in their home,” Magnis said. “But a lot of them are facing eviction or their rent has increased or they missed some days because their kid got sick and they don't have sick days, little human things and it's clear from what we’ve seen that people's paychecks just aren’t cutting it.”
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Nashwa Bawab is an editorial fellow at the Dallas Observer and a recent journalism graduate from The University of Texas at Austin. She's from Arlington and is excited to begin writing important stories from DFW.
Contact: Nashwa Bawab