Rentals sky high in Wilton

It was taught in school years ago in home economics classes that a person’s rent should be covered by one quarter of their monthly income.

If that is the case, having even a small apartment in Wilton would mean the person is a highly paid individual with monthly income in excess of $8,000.

That’s the brush with reality when one looks at the apartment rental website, Apartmentguide.com, and sees that the average rental price for a one-bedroom apartment in Wilton is $2,133. Studio apartments average $1,563, according to the website. A three-bedroom apartment comes in at $3,513.

That is why Wilton and Fairfield County in general are regarded as areas that break the bank for apartment rentals, according to the news website, Connecticut Mirror. It’s called a burden.

Almost half of Americans pay too much for their rent, and in southwestern Connecticut those numbers are much higher, according to a national study by Harvard University.

Harvard University’s annual State of the Nation’s Housing report says 18 million renters across the U.S. are burdened by their housing prices. That means they must spend more than 30% of their income on rent.

In Fairfield and New Haven counties, the Mirror report indicated about 55% of renters are considered burdened. Both counties are in the top 10 in the nation for percentage of burdened renters. The national average is about 48%, according to the report.

At those prices, people who work in restaurants and delis or retail stores are some of those who cannot afford to rent apartments in town, said economist Steve Glazer of Norwalk Community College.

However, Fairfield County is a hub of the financial industry, and there are jobs in finance and other corporate sectors that pay enough to allow employees to live in Wilton apartments, he said.

“If individuals have the years of service in those fields they are likely to provide a wage allowing for this rental payment,” Glazer said.

The high rents are reflective of this area, as numerous rents throughout Fairfield County make high prices the norm rather than the exception. As they say in real estate, it’s all about “location, location, location,” Glazer said, and the fact that Wilton is close  to Manhattan contributes to these high prices.

For younger people, it means expensive apartments are typically shared by roommates.

“However, if you look at many (Fairfield County) downtown areas, there are a plethora of young people taking advantage of what these communities have to offer, so I do not think that young people are being driven out entirely,” Glazer said of Fairfield County.

Not surprisingly, the high cost of homes and rental apartments in Fairfield County was rated in a series of business focus groups last winter as one of the most crippling local factors that comes into play for the Stamford, Danbury, and Norwalk business hubs of which Wilton is a part.

The findings were outlined in a report of the Western Connecticut Council of Governments based on focus groups conducted during the winter with representatives from real estate, small business, manufacturing, arts and media, and technology.

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