Iowa does well for housing affordability

DES MOINES — A study from the National Low-Income Housing Coalition finds Iowa does well compared to the rest of the country when it comes to housing affordability.

The coalition’s “Out of Reach Report” details how much it costs to rent a two-bedroom apartment in each state at a fair market rate. Abbie Gaffey, a program specialist with the ISU Extension, says the study shows Iowa has some of the most affordable rental rates in the United States.

“Iowa ranked number 45 out of the 50 states,” said Gaffey. “That means our housing is more affordable. The results for Iowa also show an Iowan has to earn $15.44 an hour at a 40-hour per week job working 52 weeks per year to afford the fair market rent of $803 for a two-bedroom apartment.”

Hawaii has the highest rental rates in the country, with a two-bedroom apartment averaging over $1,900 per month, while Arkansas checks in at the lowest rate at $742 per month. With Iowa’s minimum wage at $7.25 per hour, Gaffey says a person would need to work mulitple jobs to afford an average apartment.

“The study shows that a person earning that minimum wage would need 2.1 full-time jobs to pay for a two-bedroom apartment and 1.7 full-time jobs to pay for a one-bedroom apartment,” said Gaffey.

She says the Omaha-Council Bluffs metropolitan area has overtaken other areas of the state as the priciest place to live.
“The Omaha-Council Bluffs metro area is now the most expensive, followed closely by what’s traditionally been our most expensive markets in Iowa: Ames, Des Moines/West Des Moines and Iowa City,” said Gaffey. “Ames and Iowa City are university towns, so they are going to be more expensive, so the surprise to me was Omaha-Council Bluffs being less affordable than it had been in the past.”

The study also finds about 29-percent of people in the state rent a place to live, rather than own. The full study is available at