High Rents Equals High Stress & Worsening Health

Is your rent increase actually killing you? The stress of renting is bad for your health. Like you didn’t know that.

By Jeff Vasishta September 7, 2016
Photo courtesy of

There are few things more stressful than not knowing how you’re gonna pay the rent. Hypertension and asthma rates are increasing as residents around the country grapple with growing rents and lack of stability. The associated stress is shown to cause depression, anxiety and even schizophrenia, according to studies by the Health Department and the Oakland research firm PolicyLink Center for Infrastructure Equity.

The effect is felt most deeply in rapidly gentrifying areas. Oakland in California is one such neighborhood and now, studies have been conducted there to show just how stressful, from a public health perspective, increasing rents can be. Dr. Muntu Davis, head of the Alameda County Public Health Department, held a press conference on September 2nd at Oakland City Hall to address the issue.

Related: As Jackson Heights Takes The Baton From Brooklyn, Gentrification Is Off At A Winning Pace

According to Curbed, in 2015, renters saw an 8.3 percent jump in L.A. County, a 4.5 percent rise in San Francisco, and double-digit increases across many of the country’s most desirable neighborhoods. An unaffordable increase considering wages have been stagnant for the last decade. Compounding the issue are the nine million Americans who became new renters, the largest 10-year gain in history. Millennials are amongst the hardest hit. For the first time in modern history, most 18-34-year-olds live at home with their parents, according to the Pew Research Center. It’s a compound effect, because at a time when parents thought they could downsize and retire they’re still subsidizing their children. In Oakland if millennials want to move out of their parents homes it’s not uncommon for them to pay 80 percent of their income on rent and to share with five roommates.

Like parts of Brooklyn in Bed-Stuy, Crown Heights and Bushwick, Oakland lost a substantial number of its African American population between 2010-2015 (20 percent) and for those remaining, the stress of high rent is having a discernible effect.

“The more you can’t afford things, the more stresses you have, and those stresses increase your blood pressure,” Dr. Davis said. As a result, he added, Oakland is seeing an uptick in emergency-room visits for many of these health conditions. The fear of eviction also causes residents not to report potentially harmful issues in their apartments such as mold and pests.

The US is not the only country where the stress of high rent is causing tenants health related side effects. The Independent newspaper reported that in the UK more than a million Britons have had to see their doctor due to the stress of keeping a roof over their heads, according to new research by Shelter, the homeless charity. The report also stated that stress has manifested itself in tenants and homeowners not being able to sleep at night or arguing with their partners because of their inability to pay their rent or mortgage. The study showed that a striking 54 percent of people in England are struggling or falling behind in their rent or mortgage payments.


Satirical newspaper the Onion attempted to cast a humorous light on the absurdity of the rental increases in an article titled, “Apartment Broker Recommends Brooklyn Residents Spend No More Than 150% Of Income On Rent”.  Although the US may not yet be in a state where shanty towns exist outside major cities as in India and China, increasing rent is having some alarming effects. In Mountain View, California, home of Google and the much of Silicon Valley, even earning $100,000 a year hardly cuts it in a city where the cost to rent a single family home is over $4000/month, there are around 130 people now sleeping in their cars or RV’s , some of them even have decent tech jobs.

As recent data and census reports show, for many the stress of trying to make ends meet in the city in which they were raised and call home is no longer worth it. Gentrification is changing the complexion and diversity of major cities such as New York and San Francisco. It may make you wonder if the constant upward growth of the real estate market has its cost.

Jeff Vasishta



Jeff is a writer, husband and father but not necessarily in that order. As a music journalist he counts Prince, Beyonce and Quincy Jones amongst those he’s interviewed. He's also owned and flipped homes in Brooklyn, NJ, CT and PA.

    Stefano Boeri, the architect mastermind behind the famous plant-covered skyscrapers, is now designing Forest Cities in Liuzhou, China. #ForestCity #China
    Auction is the second scheduled in a month for a One57 unit and it could set a NYC foreclosure record. #BillionairesRow #Foreclosures
    Once a couch-surfing website, Airbnb moves on to luxury properties, further disrupting hospitality industry. #Airbnb #Luxury
Four Countries To Retire In With $200K In Savings—And How Much Real Estate Costs There
Ever dreamed of retiring abroad? You know, affordable healthcare, better climate, more positive news—becoming an expat seems like an enticing option, especially one you no…
While Other Real Estate Platforms Start Charging Agents $3-Per-Day Exposure Fee, Agorafy Remains Accessible To All
Real Estate searching platform are always finding news ways to diversify their revenues models. Case in point—on Tuesday July 18, Streeteasy, one of New York…
Is Real Estate Crowdfunding The Fix That Urban Housing In America Really Needs?
Saving money for a down payment? One can only hope. Most millennial in their twenties or thirties are mortified that they might never be able…
Brooklyn And Queens’ Real Estate Sub-Markets Continue Their Ascent To The New Heights
So, the sales prices in Brooklyn and Queens hit record highs. Again. Just like they did in December 2016 and at the end of this…
The Economy Of Car Services And Delivery Apps Might Be Making NYC Less Eco-Friendly
Living in an eco-friendly neighborhood is a good thing. And, as it always the case with the good things, it also costs more. High rents…
Building Communities: What The U.S. Developers Should Learn From Soho China
As our world emerges into the new period of globalization and technology, some of the most important by-products of this process are buildings that have…
Five Reasons Why All Entrepreneurs Must Keep Their Eyes On China
It is hard to overestimate the importance of Chinese influence on the modern global economy. Carving out a place in Chinese market and winning over…
Airbnb Up Their Game With A New Luxury Tier Featuring Mansions And Villas
Airbnb is about to seriously up their game. First, the company started testing a new service called Select in an attempt to push accommodation listings…