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Most and Least Affordable Cities in Florida for Homeowners & Renters

Most and Least Affordable Cities in Florida for Homeowners & Renters

The affordability of housing costs in Florida varies significantly depending on the city you live in, as well as whether you rent or own your home. While Miami Gardens, Hialeah and Miami were the least affordable cities to live in, 100% of major Florida towns were deemed unaffordable for renters.
Most Affordable Cities in Florida for Homeowners  Renters
Most Affordable Cities in Florida for Homeowners & Renters Source: Getty Images

We analyzed housing costs across major Florida cities and found that costs for homeowners varied by 161%, ranging from $7,992 per year in Lakeland to $20,868 per year in Coral Springs. However, all cities in the state were affordable for homeowners, as housing costs didn't exceed 30% of the median income, a standard metric of affordability, for this group. In the least affordable city, Miami Gardens, homeowners only spent 28.82% of their income on housing costs.

On the other hand, none of the 30 largest cities in Florida were affordable for renters. Even in Cape Coral, the most affordable city, renters spent 31.04% of their income on housing expenses. In Hialeah, where the median income was $23,104, renters contributed $12,420 annually to housing costs, or 53.76% of their income.

Most and least affordable cities for homeowners in Florida

Our analysis found that Lakeland was the most affordable city for homeowners in Florida. While annual income for homeowners in Lakeland was $50,851, which is below average for major cities in our study, the city boasted the lowest housing costs in the state at $666 per month. The next-cheapest city in terms of housing costs was nearby Largo, where homeowners paid $42 more per month, and the median income was $2,625 lower per year.

Most affordable cities
Percentage of income on housing costs
Least affordable cities
Percentage of income on housing costs
Lakeland15.72%Miami Gardens28.82%
Gainesville16.96%Miami27.96%
Largo17.62%Miramar26.75%
Tallahassee18.25%Hialeah26.71%
Melbourne18.84%Sunrise25.08%

Although both Largo and Lakeland are located close to Tampa, they were significantly more affordable. This was primarily due to Tampa's high housing expenses. While Tampa's median income for homeowners was 31% higher than in Lakeland, its housing costs were also 68% greater than those in the most affordable city.

All of the least affordable cities for homeowners in Florida were located in the Miami metropolitan area, which is located on the southeast coast. One contributing factor was the high homeowners insurance rates for coastal properties. We found that Miami-Dade was one of the most expensive counties in Florida for home insurance, with rates 84% higher than the state average. In contrast, the fourth most affordable city, Tallahassee, was located in inland Leon County, the cheapest county for homeowners insurance in the Sunshine State.

Most and least affordable cities for renters in Florida

Three of the most affordable cities for renters, Largo, Lakeland and St. Petersburg, were located in the Tampa Bay region. Although Tampa's rental costs were similar, just $24 per month more expensive than St. Petersburg, for instance, income in Tampa was also $2,658 less per year.

The least affordable cities for renters in Florida, aside from Gainesville, were all located in the Miami metropolitan area, which was also the least affordable region for homeowners. Our research found that Gainesville's housing costs for renters, $858 per month, were slightly higher than those for homeowners, although the median income among renters was 61% lower at $23,550 per year.

Most affordable cities
Percentage of income on housing costs
Least affordable cities
Percentage of income on housing costs
Cape Coral31.04%Hialeah53.76%
St. Petersburg32.57%Miami Gardens51.61%
Lakeland32.86%Miami45.01%
Largo33.25%Gainesville43.72%
Palm Coast33.31%Pompano Beach40.84%

The least affordable places to rent were also frequently those with the lowest income. The cities of Hialeah, Gainesville, Miami Gardens and Miami had the lowest median income for renters in Florida. In Hialeah, the least affordable city, renter housing costs were $60 less per month than in the most affordable city, Cape Coral. But the median renter's income in Hialeah was the lowest among all major cities at $23,104 per year. So Hialeah renters spent 23% more of their income on housing expenses, such as rent and utilities.

Similarly, Miami's low median income among renters resulted in it being the third least affordable city in Florida. Although Miami's annual rental costs were $11,940, or just $500 more per year than in Jacksonville, the only larger city in the state, the median income among renters in Jacksonville was $7,178 higher.

Affordability of homeownership in Florida

Our analysis also found that the median income for homeowners was greater than that of renters in every city. The amount varied by city, ranging from 19% greater in Sunrise to 167% greater in Tallahassee. However, in 14 of the 30 largest cities in Florida, renters had higher median housing costs than homeowners. Deerfield Beach, for instance, had 44% more expensive housing costs for renters than homeowners, although renters earned 18% less (with a $7,965 lower median income per year).

Florida cities with lower costs for homeowners than renters

City
Monthly homeowner costs
Monthly renter costs
Difference
Deerfield Beach$817$1,177-$360
Palm Coast$852$1,117-$265
Lakeland$666$890-$224
Largo$708$913-$205
Sunrise$1,119$1,302-$183
Pompano Beach$920$1,099-$179
Deltona$950$1,081-$131
Hialeah$915$1,035-$120
Palm Bay$838$949-$111
Port St. Lucie$1,073$1,170-$97
Cape Coral$1,040$1,095-$55
Melbourne$822$863-$41
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Whether housing is affordable for an individual depends on their personal financial situation. The Census's standard metric of affordability compares income to housing costs, including mortgage or rent payments, homeowners insurance and utilities. If these expenses exceed 30% of a person's income, the person is considered to be burdened by their housing costs. According to this measure, all of the major cities in Florida were affordable for homeowners, whereas none were affordable for renters.

Methodology

We analyzed population and housing cost data from the U.S. Census Bureau's American FactFinder database. The 30 major Florida cities included in our analysis each had a population of more than 75,000 as of the 2010 census.

City
Annual homeowner income
Homeowner housing costs
Homeowner affordability
Annual renter income
Renter housing costs
Renter affordability
Boca Raton$89,957$1,63121.76%$45,283$1,50039.75%
Cape Coral$58,280$1,04021.41%$42,339$1,09531.04%
Clearwater$58,473$1,03921.32%$32,078$97036.29%
Coral Springs$87,433$1,73923.87%$47,008$1,33033.95%
Deerfield Beach$45,121$81721.73%$37,156$1,17738.01%
Deltona$46,472$95024.53%$32,947$1,08139.37%
Fort Lauderdale$73,166$1,40323.01%$37,063$1,13536.75%
Gainesville$60,217$85116.96%$23,550$85843.72%
Hialeah$41,115$91526.71%$23,104$1,03553.76%
Hollywood$60,388$1,24424.72%$36,757$1,08335.36%
Jacksonville$62,848$1,04019.86%$33,706$95534.00%
Lakeland$50,851$66615.72%$32,502$89032.86%
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Housing costs represent the median amount spent per month. Affordability was determined by comparing annual housing costs and income.