A High Rent-to-Income Ratio May Affect Your Life Expectancy
We all know the cost of living has skyrocketed in recent years. Housing costs, in particular, have gone through the roof in many parts of the world.
This has led to a growing concern over high rent-to-income ratios and the impact this financial stress can have on our health and how long we live.
Recent research has shown a worrying link between unaffordable rents and dying earlier. A study published last year found that Americans spending 50% of their income on rent had a higher risk of dying prematurely than those paying 30%. The more of their income people spent on rent, the higher the risk of death.
This shows we need to take action to reduce financial stresses and bring down the burden of crazy high housing costs.
The Link Between Financial Stress and Life Expectancy
Lots of studies have shown a connection between high financial stress, especially from housing costs, and poor health. Chronic stress takes its toll on our bodies, raising the risk for things like heart disease, depression, anxiety, obesity, and inflammation.
Financial Stress Messes With Our Mental Health
Out-of-control housing costs are a huge source of worry and anxiety. Constantly stressing over making rent or sacrificing other needs to pay rent can lead to more anxiety and depression. Mental health issues then increase risks for physical problems and substance abuse.
Cardiovascular Health Takes a Hit
Research shows that stress from any source activates our body’s fight-or-flight response, raising blood pressure and heart rate. When this reaction is activated long-term, it raises risks for hypertension, heart attacks, and strokes. Financial stress especially takes a toll on our ticker.
Strategies to Reduce Financial Stress
If housing costs are crushing your finances, here are some things you can try to ease this money stress:
- Get free financial counseling to get your budget under control. Focus on needs vs wants and look for areas to cut back spending.
- Talk to your landlord to negotiate lower or stable rent, especially if you’ve been a good long-term tenant. Many landlords will compromise to keep good tenants.
- Pick up part-time work or side gigs to supplement income and reduce the rent burden. Every extra buck helps create breathing room in your budget.
- Contact local housing agencies to learn about rent assistance programs you may qualify for. Subsidies and vouchers can reduce out-of-pocket rental costs.
- Find a roommate to split housing expenses and immediately drop your rent-to-income ratio. Easy with someone you know and trust.
Strategies to Find Affordable Rent
To proactively improve your rent-to-income ratio, here are some tips for finding more affordable housing.
- Consider less expensive neighborhoods and cities. Sometimes, moving to a lower-cost area can significantly reduce your monthly rent payments. Don’t limit your search too narrowly.
- Specifically, search for small studio apartments or one-bedroom units, which typically have lower rents than larger multi-bedroom places. Or look for a room in a shared house situation.
- Look farther from downtowns and trendy, popular areas where rents are jacked up. Units in outer suburbs and less hip neighborhoods often come with much lower price tags.
- Research income-restricted housing developments that provide designated affordable units for lower-income tenants. With some digging, you may find you qualify for one of these below-market-rate units.
- Ask prospective landlords about any rental concessions like 1-2 months free that can provide short-term relief on payments. Some landlords offer these incentives to attract tenants.
Rising rents that consume an excessive portion of our income are clearly linked to higher financial stress and risks for major health problems, mental and physical. But by taking proactive steps to control your budget, reduce housing expenses, and find affordable rent, you can lower this massive burden and truly protect both your finances and your health.
Making your rent-to-income ratio a priority starting today will help support a longer, healthier, and less stressful life in the years ahead. It is so worth the effort to remove this financial burden! Our lives truly depend on it.