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Best and Worst Cities for Renters in 2022

Which are the best and worst cities in the United States for renters?

To determine which cities are the best and worst places to rent, we analyzed various affordability and apartment amenity data. Creating a ranking system, we gave cities with the cheapest rent and higher apartment quality higher scores than cities that are less favorable.

The study used data from the Department of Housing and Urban Development about cost-burdened renters, who pay more than 30% of their income for housing. The analysis included an annual rent-to-purchase-rice ratio, comparing the median home value to the median annual rent — higher ratios indicate that renting is better than buying a home.

In total, we got the list down to 59 cities, which had data for each category. The full methodology can be found at the end of the study. It includes details about how scores were calculated.

Best and worst cities to rent at a glance

  1. Cheapest rent in America: Renters in Wichita, Kansas, pay an average of $850 for a two-bedroom apartment.
  2. Most expensive rent in America: Renters in New York, New York pay an average of $4,300 for a two-bedroom apartment.
  3. Highest cost burden: Renters in Miami, Florida, have the highest number of households — 63% — paying 36% of their income for housing.
  4. Lowest cost burden: Renters in San Francisco, California, have the lowest number of households — 32% — paying 22% of their income for housing.
  5. Hikes in rent: Analysis shows that Knoxville, Tennessee, had the greatest average rent hikes year-on-year, with a 33% increase.
  6. Drops in rent: Analysis shows that Cleveland, Ohio, had the greatest change in average rent from the previous year — a 14% drop.

Top 5 cities that are best for renters

The following five cities had the highest scores for renters based on the factors listed. It’s not surprising that none are among the country’s largest cities. For 28% of income on average, renters in Lincoln, Nebraska, pay around $1 per sq ft for a two-bedroom apartment.

1. Lincoln, Nebraska – Score 82

  • Percent of available rentals with a washer, dryer and dishwasher: 76%
  • Percent of available pet-friendly rentals: 100%
  • Apartment size, two bedroom: 1,064 sq ft
  • Average rent, two bedroom: $1,110
  • Percent of household income spent on rent on average: 28%
  • Historical rent price changes year over year: 10%
  • Share of cost-burdened renter households: 44%
  • Annual rent-to-purchase price Ratio: 19:1
  • Regional price parity of goods: 95
  • Regional price parity of services: 97
  • Overall score: 82

2. Omaha, Nebraska – Score 75

  • Percent of available rentals with a washer, dryer and dishwasher: 36%
  • Percent of available pet-friendly rentals: 98%
  • Apartment size, two bedroom: 1,090 sq ft
  • Average rent, two bedroom: $1,290
  • Percent of household income spent on rent on average: 28%
  • Historical rent price changes year over year: 15%
  • Share of cost-burdened renter households: 45%
  • Annual rent-to-purchase price Ratio: 18:1
  • Regional price parity of goods: 95
  • Regional price parity of services: 97
  • Overall score: 75

3. Virginia Beach, Virginia – Score 72

  • Percent of available rentals with a washer, dryer and dishwasher: 36%
  • Percent of available pet-friendly rentals: 100%
  • Apartment size, two bedroom: 1,029 sq ft
  • Average rent, two bedroom: $1,600
  • Percent of household income spent on rent on average: 28%
  • Historical rent price changes year over year: 10%
  • Share of cost-burdened renter households: 43%
  • Annual rent-to-purchase price Ratio: 17:1
  • Regional price parity of goods: 95
  • Regional price parity of services: 96
  • Overall score: 72

4. Raleigh, North Carolina – Score 72

  • Percent of available rentals with a washer, dryer and dishwasher: 30%
  • Percent of available pet-friendly rentals: 100%
  • Apartment size, two bedroom: 1,063 sq ft
  • Average rent, two bedroom: $1,520
  • Percent of household income spent on rent on average: 29%
  • Historical rent price changes year over year: 8%
  • Share of cost-burdened renter households: 47%
  • Annual rent-to-purchase price Ratio: 21:1
  • Regional price parity of goods: 95
  • Regional price parity of services: 96
  • Overall score: 72

5. Durham, North Carolina – Score 71

  • Percent of available rentals with a washer, dryer and dishwasher: 25%
  • Percent of available pet-friendly rentals: 100%
  • Apartment size, two bedroom: 1,037 sq ft
  • Average rent, two bedroom: $1,500
  • Percent of household income spent on rent on average: 29%
  • Historical rent price changes year over year: 6%
  • Share of cost-burdened renter households: 46%
  • Annual rent-to-purchase price Ratio: 21:1
  • Regional price parity of goods: 95
  • Regional price parity of services: 96
  • Overall score: 71

5 worst cities for renters

The following five cities had the lowest scores. Starting at 59, New York, New York is the worst US city for renters, who pay an average of roughly $4 per square foot for a two-bedroom apartment.

59. New York, New York – Score 27

  • Percent of available rentals with a washer, dryer and dishwasher: 15%
  • Percent of available pet-friendly rentals: 81%
  • Apartment size, two bedroom: 1,055 sq ft
  • Average rent, two bedroom: $4,300
  • Percent of household income spent on rent on average: 30%
  • Historical rent price changes year over year: 30%
  • Share of cost-burdened renter households: 50%
  • Annual rent-to-purchase price Ratio: 16:1
  • Regional price parity of goods: 110
  • Regional price parity of services: 109
  • Overall score: 27

58. Miami, Florida – Score 31

  • Percent of available rentals with a washer, dryer and dishwasher: 57%
  • Percent of available pet-friendly rentals: 95%
  • Apartment size, two bedroom: 1,016 sq ft
  • Average rent, two bedroom: $3,400
  • Percent of household income spent on rent on average: 36%
  • Historical rent price changes year over year: 25%
  • Share of cost-burdened renter households: 63%
  • Annual rent-to-purchase price Ratio: 14:1
  • Regional price parity of goods: 103
  • Regional price parity of services: 105
  • Overall score: 31

57. Los Angeles, California – Score 38

  • Percent of available rentals with a washer, dryer and dishwasher: 19%
  • Percent of available pet-friendly rentals: 82%
  • Apartment size, two bedroom: 1,030 sq ft
  • Average rent, two bedroom: $3,300
  • Percent of household income spent on rent on average: 34%
  • Historical rent price changes year over year: 12%
  • Share of cost-burdened renter households: 57%
  • Annual rent-to-purchase price Ratio: 25:1
  • Regional price parity of goods: 106
  • Regional price parity of services: 101
  • Overall score: 38

56. Boston, Massachusetts – Score 40

  • Percent of available rentals with a washer, dryer and dishwasher: 21%
  • Percent of available pet-friendly rentals: 87%
  • Apartment size, two bedroom: 1,037 sq ft
  • Average rent, two bedroom: $3,500
  • Percent of household income spent on rent on average: 30%
  • Historical rent price changes year over year: 25%
  • Share of cost-burdened renter households: 49%
  • Annual rent-to-purchase price Ratio: 19:1
  • Regional price parity of goods: 108
  • Regional price parity of services: 104
  • Overall score: 40

55. San Jose, California – Score 40

  • Percent of available rentals with a washer, dryer and dishwasher: 28%
  • Percent of available pet-friendly rentals: 100%
  • Apartment size, two bedroom: 1,024 sq ft
  • Average rent, two bedroom: $3,230
  • Percent of household income spent on rent on average: 30%
  • Historical rent price changes year over year: 13%
  • Share of cost-burdened renter households: 51%
  • Annual rent-to-purchase price Ratio: N/A
  • Regional price parity of goods: 103
  • Regional price parity of services: 101
  • Overall score: 40

Tips when buying vs. renting a home

Choosing to buy a home versus renting is a decision that has to be weighed carefully. On the one hand, getting a mortgage to purchase a home can be a wise financial move. But on the other hand, renting can be an excellent way to build wealth depending on your situation and financial goals.

Some upsides of owning a home include:

  • Building equity that you can cash out by refinancing your mortgage or selling your property.
  • Having price appreciation over time, depending on factors in your local market.
  • Cutting taxes by claiming allowable deductions for mortgage interest, points and property taxes — up to certain annual limits.
  • Avoiding up to $250,000 — or $500,000 for taxpayers filing jointly — of capital gains tax when selling a home after living in it for a period.
  • Paying historically low mortgage interest rates.

When you rent, you don’t qualify for housing-related tax deductions. However, you may not have additional expenses that typically come with homeownership.

The benefits of renting include:

  • Not having to pay a sizable down payment or have as much income to buy a home.
  • Paying average rent in the US is less per month than buying in some areas of the country, such as large cities.
  • Avoiding the expense and hassle of ongoing home maintenance and repairs.
  • Being protected from economic downturns, such as a recession or a real estate price bubble that pops.
  • Having the flexibility to relocate quickly for your family or work.

Getting a mortgage is a significant financial commitment that must fit your lifestyle and financial goals, such as investing for retirement and paying off debt. Many economic and nonfinancial considerations may factor into your decision to buy or rent a home.

The bottom line is that if buying a home has more advantages, finding an affordable property in a city with cost-effective living expenses is key. However, if renting is more suitable for your lifestyle and budget, choosing a place to rent in one of the best cities on our list might lead to big savings.

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