The Most Affordable Cities for Apartment Renters in 2019

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Paying Rent

There are many reasons why people decide to rent an apartment rather than buy a home, and the most common one is that they can’t afford a down payment. This means that the vast majority of renters are on a relatively tight budget. Nevertheless, renters in the U.S. housing market face vastly different rental rates depending on their location.

While a Saginaw, MI tenant can expect to pay a median rent of $570 per month for an apartment, a Key West, FL renter can expect to pay as much as $4,470 per month.

To help tenants know how much they will be expected to pay for their next apartment in some of the major U.S. cities in 2019, we have put together a list of the most affordable locations for renting.

35 Locations with the Lowest Rental Rates in the United States

If you are renting in one of the following cities, you are in luck. Why? Because these are the most affordable major markets for renters in the U.S. in the summer of 2019. In specific, we have pulled out the locations with a median monthly rent for an apartment below $1,000. The median rental rates have been calculated by Mashvisor, a real estate data analytics company.

Most Affordable U.S. Cities for Renting an Apartment in 2019

City Median Monthly Rent Price to Rent Ratio Walk Score
1 Saginaw, MI $570 35 40
2 Lafayette, IN $640 28 35
3 Wichita, KS $710 18 35
4 Tuscaloosa, AL $720 24 33
5 Shreveport, AL $730 14 32
6 Biloxi, MS $730 27 31
7 Peoria, IL $750 18 29
8 Eagle Pass, TX $770 12 42
9 Green Bay, WI $800 27 41
10 Appleton, WI $820 22 40
11 Johnson City, TN $830 16 26
12 Oshkosh, WI $830 16 41
13 Sioux Falls, SD $870 20 37
14 Tulsa, OK $880 20 40
15 Tallahassee, FL $880 18 32
16 West Lafayette, IN $880 16 50
17 Spokane, WA $880 24 48
18 Akron, OH $890 21 45
19 Spartanburg, SC $900 15 75
20 Meza, AZ $910 15 37
21 Kalamazoo, MI $910 25 46
22 Fargo, ND $920 11 44
23 El Paso, TX $920 10 41
24 Fresno, CA $930 22 46
25 Morgantown, WV $940 13 54
26 Eugene, OR $940 17 45
27 Little Rock, AR $940 17 32
28 Lexington, KY $940 22 34
29 Ames, IA $960 20 40
30 Gainesville, FL $960 12 34
31 Muncie, IN $970 10 36
32 Bakersfield, CA $980 15 37
33 Iowa City, IA $980 30 43
34 Greenville, NC $990 8 33
35 Portsmouth, VA $990 15 37

Data Source: Mashvisor, July 2019

Characteristics of the Most Affordable Cities for Renting

Generally speaking, the most affordable places for renters are spread across the entire U.S. real estate market. Nevertheless, there is a definite concentration of low-rent cities in the states of Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Iowa. At the same time though, tenants can find an apartment to rent for under $1,000 a month in such generally expensive states as Florida and California.

Although most Americans are forced to rent because they don’t have the means to buy a home, for some renting is a conscious decision because it makes more financial sense than owning a house. If you live in one of the cities listed in the table above and have to decide whether to rent an apartment or buy a home, the price to rent ratio in the local housing market will help you make up your mind.

The price to rent ratio, calculated by Mashvisor, is a basic real estate concept which measures the ratio between the average property price and the average annual rent in a particular market. If the price to rent ratio is low (below 15), this means that buying is relatively cheaper than renting, so it is smarter to own a home. If, on the other hand, the price to rent ratio is moderate (16-20) or high (21 and above), rents are cheaper than property prices, so the better move is to rent an apartment.

As the data above reveals, the majority of the real estate markets with lowest rents are moderate or high price to rent ratio markets. Consequently, if you’ve decided to rent there and not buy a home, you have made the right decision. The only exceptions are Greenville, NC; Muncie, IN; El Paso, TX; Fargo, ND; Gainesville, FL; Eagle Pass, TX; Morgantown, WV; Shreveport, AL; Portsmouth, VA; Bakersfield, CA; Meza, AZ; and Spartanburg, SC.

The table above also shows the Walk Score of these most affordable cities for renters. Most of these locations are not very walkable, have relatively poor public transportation infrastructure, and are car-dependent. Johnson City, TN faces the lowest Walk Score of all, while Spartanburg, SC is the most walkable location in the list of the cheapest cities for renters.

If you live in one of those 35 cities or are about to move there soon, you will be happy to know that these are the most affordable cities for apartment renters in the U.S. real estate market at the moment. Now you know exactly how much to expect to pay for an apartment there. Moreover, if you need to decide between renting and buying a property in any of these markets, you can rely on the provided price to rent ratios as a trustworthy indicator for which of the two options makes more financial sense.