Frustrated Single Mom Making $20 An Hour Shares The Rent Prices She Can’t Afford For 2 Bedroom Apartments

Even in Las Vegas, once a haven for cheap rent, she's coming up empty-handed.

photo showing rent rising Andrii Yalanskyi / Getty Images / Canva Pro

In pretty much every part of the country real estate prices are through the roof, and that includes rentals. Even in places that people used to move to for refuge from high rents, finding an affordable place to live can be a fiasco — if not outright impossible.

The situation a single mom on TikTok faced in her housing search is a perfect example. Despite making what used to be a decent hourly wage, she's struggling to find anything she can even remotely afford for her and her two teenage sons, and it's left her feeling totally defeated.


The single mom can't afford an apartment in Las Vegas despite making $20 an hour.

It would be one thing if she were a minimum-wage worker — though even minimum wage should pay enough to afford housing (which is what it was originally designed to do in the first place, by the way).

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But this mom makes $20 an hour. Still, rents are up 31.4% nationwide since before the pandemic began in 2020 and are up year over year in all but two of the 50 largest metro areas, making affordable housing a tall order on that kind of income.

And this mom, known as @justme2friends on TikTok, doesn't even live in an expensive city like New York or Los Angeles. She lives in Las Vegas, which, for years, was a place where people went to escape high rent. Not anymore.

Nearly every apartment the mom found for her and her boys was approaching $1500 — far too expensive for her income.

Like most cheap-rent havens now, the days of affordable apartments are long gone in Sin City. Rents have increased more in Vegas than the national average, and recent analysis shows people need an income of nearly $70,000 to comfortably afford a rental there.

Twenty dollars an hour used to be considered a healthy working-class pay rate that would secure a stable life in all but the most expensive cities. Now, it puts this mom nearly $30,000 behind that "comfortable figure" of $70,000.


And the sticker shock has been real. In a TikTok video, the mom shared some of the apartments she'd been looking at for her two sons. "What's going on with these prices," she wrote in the onscreen text, going on to ask "how a single mom of two teenagers" is supposed to pay today's rent at $20 an hour.

She then leafed through a series of rental brochures for two-bedroom apartments she'd looked at. Not counting various fees involved with renting, they all hovered around $1500, ranging from $1555 on the high end to $1449 on the low end. "I'm about to cry," she wrote.

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Experts recommend spending no more than 30% of your income on housing, a guideline that is becoming impossible for most.

It has long been the conventional financial wisdom that 30% of income should be the absolute most a person should spend on housing to ensure they live within their means. Nowadays, though, people are lucky if they can even find a place to live for that little.

A 2024 study by Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies found that roughly half of Americans who rent are spending more than 30% on rent, an all-time high, and more than a quarter are paying more than 50%.  Along with these trends have come a record number of evictions and the highest homelessness rates ever.

There has also been evidence of price-fixing among landlords using a rental software platform called RealPage, which uses algorithms to jack up rents in a scheme similar to the "dynamic pricing" used with concert tickets on sites like Ticketmaster.


But RealPage's rent-jacking algorithms are based on data collected from landlords, not demand, and this collusion has led to an antitrust investigation by the Department of Justice that has resulted in an FBI raid of at least one corporate landlord so far, Atlanta-based Cortland Management.

In the end, this mom was able to finally find a place she can afford in Las Vegas. In a follow-up video, she showed off the view from her new place. "Nothing fancy," she wrote, "but I finally found something I can afford."

Thankfully, rent increases are starting to curb. Rents have been rising at much slower rates in recent years. 


Hopefully, we'll soon see some relief because nobody should have to spend 50% of their income just to have a roof over their head.

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice, and human interest topics.