According to Zillow data, the U.S. median rent consumes 27.8% of the median income—close to the 30% point, where rent is considered unaffordable, and 32%, above which homelessness can rapidly increase.

In the 2019 Zillow Consumer Trends report, 26% of renters say that affording their rent is difficult or very difficult. Most renters—66%—make at least one sacrifice in order to afford rent. Nationally, the most common sacrifice is entertainment spending, with 38% of renters reporting spending less on entertainment. However, some make more serious sacrifices—9% will postpone or cancel health services, while 12% will reduce or eliminate downpayment savings.

Sacrifices aside, renters are financially strapped enough that only 51% say they could accommodate a $1,000 expense, compared to 80% of homeowners. Older renters are less likely to say they could afford such an expense: Only 38% of boomer and silent generation renters, compared to 60% of Gen Z and 54% of millennial renters.

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