Rent as Percentage of Household Income

Rent as Percentage of Household Income

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What does this measure?

The proportion of household income that goes toward monthly rent, utilities and fuel, calculated by dividing median rent by median household income for renters.

Why is this important?

This figure indicates how affordable housing is for renters. The federal Housing and Urban Development Department guideline for affordability is that rent should consume no more than 30% of household income.

How is our county performing?

In 2015-19, Berks County renters spent 32% of their income on rent, slightly more than the state and nation (both at 31%). The proportion in Berks increased 7 percentage points since 2000, a larger increase than in Pennsylvania and the U.S. (both at 5 points).

Renting was least affordable for residents in the City of Reading, where renters spent 40% of their income on rent in 2015-19, up from 30% in 2000. In the Central region of the county, renters spent 35% of their income on rent, compared to 27% in the Northeast, 28% in the South, 26% in the Southeast, and 25% in the West.

Surrounding counties were slightly more affordable than Berks. Renters spent a similar proportion of their income on rent in Schuylkill County and less in Lebanon (27%), Chester (29%), Lancaster and Montgomery (both at 29%), and Schuylkill (at 31%). Lehigh County was higher than Berks with 34%.

Notes about the data

For additional detail as to how the Berks County regions are defined and which boroughs and townships are included in each, see the About Us page.

There may be additional research available on this topic. Click on Reports and Resources to learn more.

Multiyear figures are from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey. The bureau combined five years of responses to the survey to provide estimates for smaller geographic areas and increase the precision of its estimates. The survey provides data on characteristics of the population that used to be collected only during the decennial census. Data for this indicator are released annually in December.

Rent as Percentage of Household Income
Berks County25%34%32%
Berks County Regions
Reading city30%47%40%
Berks County Peers
Chester County23%31%29%
Lancaster County23%32%29%
Lebanon County22%27%27%
Lehigh County27%36%34%
Montgomery County24%31%29%
Schuylkill County23%28%31%

Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Notes: Rent considered affordable if less than 30% of income. Multiyear results are from rolling American Community Survey. * Margin of error between 20% & 35% of estimate; ** margin of error between 35% & 50%; *** margin of error greater than 50%.