How Much Housing Does a $600 or $1,400 Stimulus Pay For in Major U.S. Cities?

Will the next stimulus check pay your mortgage or rent for the month? It depends on where you live, and how much more is disbursed this year. 

Quick Facts

  • The second round of stimulus was approved at the end of 2020, which sent $600 to most Americans.
  • Housing is by far the average American household’s largest expenditure
  • $600 pays for a fraction of most American’s monthly housing costs. 18% of a rent payment in New York City or 16% of a mortgage payment in San Jose, for example (see table below).
  • Another stimulus deal is in the works for 2021 under Joe Biden’s administration, with details to be debated in the coming months.
  • With a potential $1,400 stimulus residents of Dallas, Seattle and Chicago, for example, could cover an entire month’s housing, with some left over.

There have been two rounds of stimulus sent directly to the American people to cope with the economics of the 2020 pandemic. The latest round, approved in the waning days of 2020, rapidly sent $600 directly to most Americans’ bank accounts. The $600 stimulus was less than progressives in congress, and president-elect Biden had hoped for but was still much needed for Americans struggling to keep their personal finances in order.

The negative economic effects of the recent pandemic can vary by location. As housing is by far the average American household’s largest expense each month, we wanted to know just how helpful (or not quite helpful enough) the $600 is for residents of some of America’s largest cities.

Here’s what we found:

How much housing could your recent $600 stimulus pay for?

CityAvg Rent$600 pays X%Avg Mortgage$600 pays X%
New York City, NY$3,29218.2%$2,70922.1%
San Jose, CA$2,53523.7%$3,72016.1%
Los Angeles,CA$2,51423.9%$3,04819.7%
Chicago, IL$1,83132.8%$1,84732.5%
Miami, FL$1,85432.4%$1,81033.1%
Houston, TX$1,81333.1%$1,72734.7%
Seattle, WA$1,73934.5%$2,85521.0%
Denver, CO$1,64136.6%$1,65036.4%
Dallas, TX$1,35744.2%$1,77933.7%
Phoenix, AZ$1,14252.5%$1,49240.2%

Methodology and other housing cost considerations

The averages used above for mortgage and rent are just that, averages. Your payment could be lower or higher depending on your housing situation, zip code etc. Rent numbers are for a one-bedroom apartment. If a household includes two adults, they might receive two $600 checks so the stimulus could cover double the amount shown in our table, if put towards housing costs.

It may come as a shock to some to see average mortgages be higher than average rent in a city. This effect is due to many factors including but not limited to decades-old mortgages with very low payments whereas with rent, it can always go up. We used the most current averages from Census.gov, where possible as well as Rent.com’s average prices based on their data. 

In this article

    Additional stimulus payments are in the works for 2021

    With a new presidential administration arriving soon and the balance of power in the Senate changing tides, political analysts say plans for another, possibly larger round of stimulus are moving forward. A larger payment of say, $1,400  would pay for a full month’s rent in cities such as Dallas, Phoenix, and Denver. Mortgages for folks in places such as Houston, Miami and even Chicago could be three-quarters paid (75% covered) for the month.

    How much housing could a potential $1,400 stimulus pay for?

    CityAvg Rent$1,400 pays X%Avg Mortgage$1,400 pays X%
    New York City, NY$3,29242.5%$2,70951.7%
    San Jose, CA$2,53555.2%$3,72037.6%
    Los Angeles,CA$2,51455.7%$3,04845.9%
    Chicago, IL$1,83176.5%$1,84775.8%
    Miami, FL$1,85475.5%$1,81077.3%
    Houston, TX$1,81377.2%$1,72781.1%
    Seattle, WA$1,73980.5%$2,85549.0%
    Denver, CO$1,64185.3%$1,65084.8%
    Dallas, TX$1,357103.2%$1,77978.7%
    Phoenix, AZ$1,142122.6%$1,49293.8%

    The Biden administration has also proposed a new $1,400 stimulus. Above we show what that might look like. Interestingly to us, $1,400 is quite close to the national mortgage average of about $1,600. The national average in rent is about the same at $1,690.

    We’ll continue to monitor the stimulus news as it comes and, as always, share resources to help you understand and optimize your personal finances, with or without additional stimulus.

    We welcome your feedback on this article. Contact us at inquiries@thesimpledollar.com with comments or questions.

    Image credit: Peter Start/ Getty Images