High cost of living in Topeka

TOPEKA (KSNT) — If you’ve looked into renting a home or apartment in Kansas lately, you already know, it’s expensive.

“Most of the time people only making minimum wage, they’re going to have to rent low income property. They’re not going to be able to afford the average of $715 a month which is a two bedroom in Topeka,” says Housing and Credit Counseling’s Theresa Baker.

Which is why she often sees many single parent households, as well as single-earner households, struggling to pay rent in the Capital City.

“When this happens they generally will rent something in the $450 range, and with that comes maintenance issues,” says Baker.

The income needed to afford the average two bedroom apartment in Topeka is $28,000. Often that’s least two people making minimum wage.

But for that same apartment in Manhattan, you’d need an annual income of more than $31,000.

There are a variety of factors that drive up rent.

The first is the number of college students.

“Rents are much lower in Topeka than Lawrence, and some of that is the demand over there and so many students that add to the population of Lawrence. Manhattan’s been a lot the same,” says Senior Vice President of Pioneer Group, Rick Kready.

Also adding to the price: “It’s typically because they’re newer. Also, because they are well managed,” says Baker.

Safety isn’t cheap either.

“[To ensure that] you feel like you’re going to be okay when you get out of your car and be able to get to your house safely, you’re going to have to pay for it. You pay for your convenience and you pay for your safety, ” says Topeka renter, Jordan Beightel.

And while it’s not cheap for Kansas renters, it’s not for the landlord either.

“Usually it’s not that they’re getting rich and sticking it in their pocket, it’s that they’re making enough to pay the banker and the mortgage payment that they’ve got,” says Kready.

As for how to find affordable rent, one expert says you really only have two options: Seeing if you qualify for affordable housing assistance, or consider buying. The expert tells KSNT News that in some cases in Topeka, it’s cheaper to buy a house than it is to rent one.

The most expensive place to live in Kansas is Kansas City. According to the study, the average rent for a two bedroom apartment is about $900.

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