With demand for housing so strong, New Jersey has some of the most expensive rents in the country right now, but experts predict they will soon go even higher.

Apartments for rent. (Hemera Technologies, ThinkStock)

Housing experts with Zillow and Zumper predicts apartment rents will rise 3 to 5 percent next year.

“People even when they call my office are very upset, they’re like I thought this was affordable housing , people think affordable housing is $300, $500 a month apartment, but that’s not true,” said Sharon Clark, the executive director of the Central Jersey Housing Resource Center.

She said many Garden State residents have trouble being able to pay for so-called “affordable housing.”

“People, instead of paying $1,700 a month for rent are still paying $1,100, $1,200,” she said. “We have a lot of apartments in the affordable program that are $1,400 a month.”

She said while many people would like to buy a home, they can’t afford the down payment, or they have trouble getting a mortgage.

“A lot of people have had changes in their jobs, and you kind of need stability for a year or two,” she said. “Obviously, people want their own space but a lot of times people have to stay together or have roommates, things like that."

She said a lot of New Jerseyans are paying 50 to 60 percent of their incomes on rent, that’s why they’re working multiple jobs.

She also said the Central Jersey Housing Resource Center teaches classes for first time homebuyers and encourages people to apply for grant programs and other assistance so they can find decent housing.

According to a recent RealtyTrac report, while renting is expensive, it’s still cheaper than buying a home in Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Somerset and Hunterdon counties in Central Jersey, but in Ocean County it’s cheaper to buy than rent.

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