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Seattle renters: It’s not better in Marysville

Marysville is the fastest growing big city in Western Washington.

In part that’s due to people leaving the Seattle housing market to find more affordable housing in a place a commutable distance away.

“What you’re seeing is a lot of people – for lack of a better word – fleeing the greater Seattle area. A lot of your working class people just simply cannot afford to live there,” said Marysville resident Joshua Sanabria. “They work outside of town, they just live here.”

But rent isn’t a problem you can just drive away from.

Since 2010, the number of Marysville households has increased by 8 percent. About a third of those are renters – still far fewer than Seattle, where renters make up over half of the households.

In Marysville, the renter population is fairly evenly distributed over income groups. Not so in Seattle, where renters are more concentrated in the bottom and top income groupings.

What’s more telling is how many people are paying too much for rent, defined by federal agencies like the Census Bureau and Housing and Urban Development department as 30 percent or more of household income.

According to HUD, 20 percent of renters in Seattle are spending more than half their income on housing. In Marysville, it’s even tougher — 26 percent of renters there are spending more than half their money on the roof over their heads.

Read More: Last stop for affordable housing north of Seattle isn't affordable for everyone

“The rents out here are getting out of hand. Seattle’s just too expensive to live. And now it seems like this area is getting too expensive to live,” said Marysville resident Robert Max.

To get a clear picture, we took each city and imagined them as if they were both made of 100 renters.

In this scenario, more people in Marysville are in, or close to, that critical position of paying 30 percent or more of their income to rent.

In both cities, that middle bracket of $35,000 to $50,000 seems to be feeling the squeeze the most as more and more people at this income level pay too much for rent.

Since 2010 the number of Marysville residents at this income level paying too much for rent has more than doubled (which is also what happened at the next higher bracket of household incomes of $50,000 to $75,000).

In Seattle, the growth was comparatively less dramatic: residents at the $35,000 - $50,000 bracket paying too much for rent jumped 25 percent in these years.

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