If you’re one of the 13,103 households in the Lima metropolitan area renting your home, there’s good news. There aren’t many places in Ohio better for you to be renting than right where you are.
The National Low Income Housing Coalition recently released its analysis of housing costs across the country, including Ohio. Based on its title, “Out of Reach 2017,” you can probably figure that this organization didn’t see a lot of optimism in the rental information it collected.
Optimism isn’t necessarily my first language, but it’s hard to really study the numbers without realizing Lima’s an attractive market to rent.
The study looked at the fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment, including its utilities. The Lima Metropolitan Statistical Area ties with Brown County, Hocking County, Mansfield, Perry County and Youngstown areas for the lowest fair market rent, at $681 a month.
Then it also looked at the average hourly wage of renters. In Lima’s case, that is $10.19 an hour. Using the old adage you shouldn’t spend more than 30 percent of your income on housing, there is a disparity. Your average renting worker should only spend $530 a month on housing, so he or she is coming up $151 short a month.
That’s actually better than any of those other low-cost rental areas, except Mansfield, where you’re $7 closer to that magical mark.
In Auglaize County, you’d have to make $13.65 an hour to afford the average apartment of $710 a month. In Putnam County, you’d need to make $14.23 a month to afford the average $740 two-bedroom apartment. Hardin County and Van Wert County are more affordable, at $13.10 an hour to live in a $681 apartment.
There’s a lot of discussion these days about how to improve Lima and the surrounding region. It’s easy to fixate on issues such as limited earnings (those renters’ hourly income ranks 11th out of 18 areas) or security. But we should also consider that we’re in an area with truly reasonable fair market housing, which is to say not including taxpayer-supported housing.
Tie that with the 1,877 jobs listed Saturday on OhioMeansJobs.com within 20 miles of Lima (including 783 listed at more than $50,000 a year), and this is a land of opportunity.
You can pull yourself up by your bootstraps here, and you’ll have a fairer chance at succeeding than elsewhere in Ohio.
Just consider that Columbus, that place so many young people go because there’s “no opportunity here,” needs people to make $17.04 an hour to afford two-bedroom housing at $886 a month. Or think about the $806 a month you’d need to make to pay rent each month in Cincinnati, or the $781 a month needed in Cleveland. Overall in Ohio, you’d have to make $15 an hour on average to afford the $780 on a two-bedroom apartment.
This region also gives you an opportunity to buy your own home affordably. Lima tied for fifth as the most affordable housing markets in the world in the third quarter of 2016, according to the 13th annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey. The survey noted the median price on a home is $110,000, while the medial income was $51,400, or a “median multiple” of 2.1 times your annual salary to afford your home, an honor shared with 10 other places, including eight American cities and two Ohio cities, Springfield and Youngstown.
Yes, there are real problems in the world and in Lima. Luckily for us, housing doesn’t have to be one of them.