Rural-Urban Differences in Housing Cost Burden Across the U.S.

Aerial view of a residential neighborhood in hawthorne in Los Angles, CA

University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center Policy Brief 

MPC Members: Alexis SwendenerJonathan SchroederCarrie Henning-Smith






  • Housing cost burden (spending over 30% of income on housing) is widespread across the U.S. with a third of urban households and a quarter of rural households being cost burdened
  • In each of the four U.S. census regions, nine division, and in most states, higher proportions of urban households are housing cost burdened compared to rural households, but differences vary widely 
  • The Western region has the highest rates of those experiencing housing cost burden for both rural (29%) and urban locations (37%) overall, largely among states in the Pacific division 
  • California, Hawaii, and Massachusetts have particularly high rates of cost burden among both rural and urban households (ranging from 34% - 41%)