Real Estate Rumblings

Feeling cramped? Dallas renters have less space than they need.

Feeling cramped? Dallas renters have less space than they need.

Strata Dallas living room
Twenty-seven percent of Dallas renters have less space than they need. Photo courtesy of Simpson Property Group

Feeling cramped? There's a reason. In a recent study, real estate website Trulia found that renters — especially those with children — have less space than they did several years ago.

Trulia looked at U.S. Census Bureau's 2014 American Community Survey data to determine the number of needed bedrooms based on children and married couples in the family. Married couples together only need one bedroom, while non-married adults as well as children were assumed to each need one bedroom. Households with fewer bedrooms than non-married adults or children are considered to suffer the “space crunch.”

In the nation’s biggest metro areas, 14.7 percent of households had fewer bedrooms than family members, an increase of half-a-percentage point since 2009. The study showed that renters with kids are especially cramped, and the larger and pricier the metro, the more likely renters are tight on space. Trulia found that just 8.1 percent of nationwide homeowners are tight on space, versus 26.4 percent of households who rent.

Contrary to the national trend, a few major Texas metros, including Dallas and Houston, posted a bigger drop among space-crunched renters compared to homeowners. 

In the Dallas-Plano-Irving metro, 16.7 percent of residents are cramped based on household size. Ten percent of Dallas homeowners feel the space crunch, while over 27 percent of renters lack a comfortable number of bedrooms. The share of homeowners with a space crunch in Dallas hasn’t change since 2009, but there’s been a .7 percentage point drop in cramped renting households.

Austin, Fort Worth, and San Antonio, on the other hand, are consistent with the national trend, where more renting households are sharing bedrooms than they did in 2009. Over 15 percent of Fort Worth-Arlington area residents were cramped in 2014. That year, the space crunch affected 9.7 percent of homeowners — a decrease of .1 percentage points since 2009. On the other hand, over 25 percent of renters have fewer bedrooms than needed, up .7 percentage points in the same five-year period.

While space is seemingly getting worse for renters in Austin, Fort Worth, and San Antonio, the share of cramped renters in Dallas and Houston has dropped more significantly between 2009 and 2014 than the share of cramped homeowners. Still, 27 percent of Dallas-area renters are bunking up. In Houston, the figure is almost 29 percent.