24% of renters ‘seriously consider’ leaving California
Few economic gaps in California are wider than the monetary gulf between renters and homeowners.
I just unearthed another example: A poll gauging the impact of the state’s challenging job market found 24% of California renters would “seriously consider” leaving for elsewhere in the U.S. vs. just 19% of homeowners.
The Public Policy Institute of California’s survey of 2,292 California adults conducted in late October offers vivid illustrations of how hard life can be as a Golden State renter, especially compared with homeowners. Not only are tenants typically poorer than owners, but their hopes of getting ahead are also diminished.
That’s not a good financial formula in a state where a typical apartment runs $1,967 a month — the second-highest rent in the nation, according to Apartment List. California renters pay an average 32% of their income toward rent — a monetary burden topped by only three other states, Census stats show.
The poll details how the usually tenuous finances of renters have been further muddled by the pandemic era’s business limitations and economic twists. California remains 900,000 jobs short of pre-pandemic employment levels with many of these lost positions coming from lower-paying industries that typically employ tenants.
Such workplace difficulties translate to 24% of renters having someone in their household losing a job in the past year vs. 16% of homeowners. And 17% of renters worry almost daily or more about future job losses vs. 12% of owners.
Now, most renters aren’t enjoying dream jobs with just 35% surveyed saying they are very satisfied with work vs. 38% of owners. One annoyance: Unstable hours are a pain for 21% of renters vs. 17% of owners.
Plus, a shortage of good-paying jobs further clouds the picture with 26% of renters saying it’s a “big problem” vs. 20% of owners. And there’s not much hope for career advancement — 42% of renters’ current workplace offers no growth opportunities vs. 37% of owners.
Employment impediments translate to money problems, with 22% of renters reporting worsening personal finances vs. a year ago vs. 15% owners.
No surprise, the cost of housing is a major headache with 39% of renters worrying almost every day or more vs. 16% of owners.
That’s likely because 24% of renters admit their households had difficulty paying rent vs. 10% of owners who had mortgage troubles. That’s in line with 26% of renters with serious worries about bills vs. 14% of owners.
Consider other renter-vs.-owner financial complications of the past year.
Medical? 23% of renting households put off getting healthcare help because of finances vs. 4% of owners. Food stamps? 26% of renting households got them vs. 9% of owners. Unemployment benefits? 33% of renters got jobless aid vs. 23% of owners.
Despite the dismal finances, renters’ expectations are curiously upbeat.
In the coming year, 36% of renters think their families will be better off vs. 23% of owners.
And looking further ahead, 42% of renters say California children will be better off than their parents vs. 31% of owners.
Still, cash flow may nudge renters out of California.
Of course, it’s easy to talk about exiting. It’s another thing to do so when over the last decade only a small slice of California’s population actually left for elsewhere in the nation.
Yet money talks. When asked how hard it is to get $1,000 quickly for an emergency, 28% of renters said “very difficult” or “nearly impossible” vs. 8% of owners.
And that explains who’s monetarily unhappy in California — 32% of renters say they’re financially dissatisfied, more than double the 15% of cash-challenged owners.