It's been a banner year for passive income through rental properties, something most U.S. renters could tell you, however ruefully. If you've ever laughed when told your rent should make up no more than 30 percent of your expenses, you may be shocked but not surprised by how much Americans spent on rent this year.
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Nationwide, landlords collected $485.6 billion in 2017, nearly $5 billion more than in 2016. The website Zillow found that in November, average rent came out to around $1,435 per month. There's plenty of data available on average rents in major cities and metropolitan areas, and it varies a lot. If you live in Las Vegas, Minneapolis, or Charlotte, North Carolina, your rent increased the most in the nation — 7 percent over last year.
Despite the fact that 1 in 4 of us are now severely rent-burdened, meaning rent comprises more than 50 percent of our expenses, shares of affordable rental units are falling. Units under $800 are not being built as quickly or as numerously as units topping $2,000. That said, despite a shortage of available housing, in many cities, it's starting to make more sense to buy than rent. It's still a big decision (though possibly getting easier), but if you're at a point in your life where you'd like to stop moving every year or so, maybe a move that ultimately puts money in your own pocket is in your future.