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Which Professions Can Afford To Live In The D.C. Area?

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Rents in or near D.C. are simply out of reach for those in many professions, according to a report.
Ashley Brown: http://www.flickr.com/photos/34564103@N03/4256127642/
Rents in or near D.C. are simply out of reach for those in many professions, according to a report.

New data from the Center for Housing Policy confirms what many in the D.C. Metro area already know: it's difficult or impossible for people in many professions to afford housing.

Residents in the Washington Metropolitan statistical area must earn a salary of $47,640 in order to pay fair market rent for a one-bedroom apartment, or $56,480 for a two-bedroom, according to the report. This puts housing out of reach for those in many professions, including housekeepers, wait staff, and yes, even news reporters.

Prospects for home ownership are even more daunting. With prices on homes in the area continuing their trend of double digit growth year over year, a salary of more than $80,000 is needed to afford a median-priced home of just $302,000.

"One of the most overlooked aspects of this recovery is that for many workers, incomes are not rebounding in step with local housing markets," explained CHP Senior Research Associate Maya Brennan, co-author of the report. "Even in a strong sector like travel and tourism, wages have not kept pace with the rising costs of renting or homeownership."

The report says that the persistence of low wages relative to the cost of housing forces residents to make difficult choices. Some choose to live in communities beyond the edge of the metropolitan areas, where commutes are long but rents are low. Others give up more than half of their paycheck for rent and make cutbacks elsewhere to compensate.

The two-income household is described as "one clear way to make expenses easier to manage," but the authors of the report note that it's just not an option for many in the working world. As many as 10 percent of U.S. households are headed by single parents, for instance.

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