People living in market-rate apartments are counted, of course, but so are folks in older and less-expensive units, as well as those in subsidized housing who may pay little or no rent at all. Many renters who have been living in their apartment for a long time pay far less than market rate.
And in San Francisco and New York, a significant number of units are rent-controlled and rent-stabilized, further bringing down the medians in those two cities.
Census figures also includes the estimated average monthly cost of utilities, if these are paid by the renter. This is intended to eliminate differences that result from varying practices -- in one apartment building, some or all utilities may be included in the rent, while at the next building, the tenants might be on the hook for everything.
As tough as things are in Seattle, consider the poor folks renting in Bellevue. The median there jumped by a whopping $153 last year, hitting $1,846.
Bellevue is the extreme, but the census data show that all cities in our metro area are getting more expensive. And for the first time, Tacoma joined the $1,000 club -- the median rent now is $1,054.
Looking for an escape from Seattle's soaring housing costs? If you want flat rents -- and are OK with flat everything -- the cheapest big city in the U.S., with a median rent of $762, is Wichita, Kan.
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