Rents in the Charlotte metro area are on the rise as the area continues to grow, raising affordability concerns.

Amid a booming real estate market, suburban areas in the region as well as the city have seen rising rents in recent years.

Here’s how to figure out how much rent you can afford and what to expect from the Charlotte market:

How to budget for rent

To figure out how much you can afford to pay in rent, you need to know a few numbers about your personal finances: your gross monthly income, your net income, and the sum total of your other expenses.

Your gross income is your total income before taxes and other deductions, such as 401K contributions. Prospective landlords and property managers will often look for your monthly gross income to be at least around three times the monthly rent and will want to verify this through official documentation, such as a pay stub or letter of offer.

A good rule of thumb, advise financial experts, is that your rent should not exceed 30% of your gross monthly income.

Net income is the amount of money you have left over from your paycheck after deducting deductions, such as health insurance and taxes. Basically, it’s how much money is deposited into your bank account each month and it’s a useful number to determine how much you can spend.

Once you know these numbers, it can be helpful to use a rent calculator, available on many real estate sites such as Zillow.com and Apartmentlist.com. By entering your gross and net income and applying the 30% rule, they will give you an estimate of what you can afford and how much money you would have left each month if you paid that rent.

When looking at these numbers, you should also keep in mind the sum total of your other expenses, such as car payments and groceries. You want to make sure that the combination of these costs and your rent won’t leave you with less money than you’re comfortable having in the bank.

How to Find Charlotte Apartments Within Your Budget

Once you’ve figured out what you can afford in rent, you can start looking for apartments that fit your budget.

Many real estate sites, such as Zillow.com, Apartments.com, and Apartmentlist.com allow you to search for apartments based on the maximum amount you want to spend on rent. They also allow you to refine your search according to the neighborhoods that interest you and the characteristics of the apartment.

The classifieds often also include rental opportunities, as do some local real estate agencies and property management companies.

Sometimes people search for roommates on sites like Craigslist, but you should be careful to avoid scams and do your research before meeting strangers.

When you find a home you like, you can schedule an in-person or virtual tour where you’ll have a chance to ask questions and check the rent price. Be sure to clarify what is and is not included in the rent, such as utilities and internet service.

What is the average rent in Charlotte?

The average rent in the Charlotte area is $1,430 per month, the Observer previously reported, according to data from real estate research firm CoStar.

This figure is based on rent prices in the 10 counties that make up the metropolitan area. Released in September, it reflects a 16.7% year-over-year increase from 2020.

Applying the 30% rule, you would need a salary of more than $56,000 per year to pay this rent. The median household income in Charlotte, according to the most recent data from the US Census Bureau, is $62,817. It’s $43,940 for Hispanic households and $39,508 for black households, but just over $92,000 for white households.

Real estate site Apartments.com breaks down prices by apartment size, putting the average monthly rent for a studio in Charlotte at $1,425 and a two-bedroom at $1,350. A two-bedroom apartment will cost you an average of $1,577 per month, according to their data, and a three-bedroom $1,828 per month.

In a report to county commissioners on Thursday, Mecklenburg County Economist Michael Brandon Simmons said only about 1% of apartments in the county had rent of $1,000 or less per month.

Charlotte Observer reporter Lauren Lindstrom contributed to this story.

This story was originally published January 28, 2022 1:15 p.m.

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Mary Ramsey is a duty reporter for The Charlotte Observer. Originally from the Carolinas, she studied journalism at the University of South Carolina and has also worked in Phoenix, Arizona and Louisville, Kentucky.

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