New Orleans has always been talked about for its affordable rents, like on this recent study that ranks the city as the number 1 place to be an artist, mostly due to its low cost of living. But is New Orleans really that affordable? The Atlantic has its doubts: the publication, writing about the "myth" of New Orleans' affordability, cites low wages, limited housing supply, and lack of livable units as factors that make the cost of living in this city more than it seems.
This isn't the first time a report like this has come out: In March, CNN ranked New Orleans as one of the worst cities to be a renter, citing wages that don't reflect the city's rising housing costs, the proliferation of short-term rental services like Airbnb, and unlivable housing conditions.
The Atlantic report cites a Zillow rent index saying an average one-bedroom apartment in New Orleans costs $1,400 — a price that many commenters, anecdotal evidence and scanning Craigslist for just a few minutes will tell you is not totally accurate, even if New Orleans' rents are climbing. So while that figure might be slightly inflated (less expensive apartments are usually relegated to Craigslist), The Atlantic cites a figure from the Data Research Center saying that more than 35 percent of the city's residents spend 50 percent or more of their salaries on rent. The national average is about 25 percent.
Other damning stats: In New Orleans, unemployment is about 6.3 percent, higher than the national average; average weekly wages are about $980, lower than the national average. Additionally, Louisiana is also one of only five states with no minimum wage law on the books.
The housing supply is limited, partially due to the city's eradication of its public housing projects shortly after Katrina, and also what is available often fails to meet health and safety standards. The article in Gambit about that CNN report, quoting data collected by the Fair Housing Action Center, says that of the more than 62,000 rental properties in the city, nearly 50,000 needed some kind of major repair, while thousands of other properties had mold, water leakage, rodents and other issues.
Also, New Orleans renters have fewer rights than their counterparts in other places.
So while New Orleans may be "cheap" when compared to pricy rental markets like San Fransisco and New York, it seems like renters end up paying for it in other ways.
· The Myth of New Orleans's Affordability [The Atlantic]
· New Orleans one of the worst U.S. cities for renters [Gambit]
· Curbed Comparisons [Curbed NOLA]
· 10 Things You Need to Know About Renting in New Orleans [Curbed NOLA]