Where are the best places to rent?
The best places to rent in the US could mean many things. If you look at affordability alone, you could probably find any small town in your state and find that rent is pretty low. But, you might also find that renting is about the same as owning a house in those small towns. On our “best places to rent” list, we compared cities to the national average rent for a 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom apartment, which are as follows:
- 1-bedroom apartment: $1,610 (+1.6 percent from prior month / +3.2 percent year-over-year)
- 2-bedroom apartment: $1,881 (-1.1 percent from prior month / +5.3 percent year-over-year)
We’re also going to stick to areas with good or growing job opportunities and have good local attractions. Now that everyone is working from home being close to jobs isn’t as huge of a factor as it once was. But, we’re still going to assume that the vast majority of us don’t want to live in the middle of nowhere with miles between you and the closest park or grocery store. (Hmm, maybe that can be a list we make for another time).
1. The Research Triangle in North Carolina – Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill
The Research Triangle in North Carolina has a steady job market. Some of the most notable companies in the area are IBM, SAS Institute Inc., and Cisco Systems. The area is also well known for its colleges – Duke, North Carolina State, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The average rent for a 1-bedroom ($1,018) and a 2-bedroom ($1,295) are both a good chunk above the national average.
2. Missouri – Kansas City and St. Louis
Kansas City and St. Louis are two of the biggest cities in Missouri, the first sitting on the western edge of the state and the latter sitting at the state’s eastern edge. Both cities boast growing job opportunities. In St. Louis, we have major companies like Anheuser-Busch, Wells Fargo Advisors, U.S. Bank, and Anthem BlueCross and Blue Shield. In Kansas City, we have Cerner Corporation, AMC Theaters, H&R Block, and Hallmark Cards. The average rent for a 1-bedroom in both cities is around $950-$975; a 2-bedroom is around $1200-$1300. Rent in Kansas City is slightly higher than in St. Louis for a 1-bedroom, but the opposite is true for a 2-bedroom.
3. Pennsylvania – Scranton and Pittsburgh
Many of us are probably familiar with Scranton thanks to Michael Scott and “The Office.” Both Scranton and Pittsburgh have growing job opportunities, especially in the healthcare and technology sectors. The average rent in Pittsburgh for a 1-bedroom is $1100, and a 2-bedroom is $1380. In comparison, the average rent in Scranton for a 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom is $850 and $950, respectively.
4. Ohio – Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Toledo
The four biggest cities in Ohio are also top contenders on our list. Like any big city, there are plenty of job opportunities. But the plus side is that housing is still relatively affordable in these big cities. Columbus is the second-largest city in the Midwest behind Chicago and is home to a wide variety of companies, including five Fortune 500 companies. Here are the rent comparisons for these four cities:
- Columbus: $885 (1-bedroom), $1099 (2-bedroom)
- Cleveland: $1283 (1-bedroom), $1200 (2-bedroom)
- Cincinnati: $945 (1-bedroom), $1100 (2-bedroom)
- Toledo: $580 (1-bedroom), $725 (2-bedroom)
The metro areas we can’t forget about
Although these cities may be less affordable than the cities we listed above, we can’t pass up on talking about them because of their booming job and population growths and their high scores in local attractions.
1. Texas – Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio
These three cities seem to be at the top of everyone’s lists for the best places to rent, and they have good reason to be. Austin and the DFW area have been in the news seemingly throughout 2020 and early 2021 – from celebrities moving to the area to big companies like Tesla moving HQs to the area. As a result, housing prices have increased drastically in Austin and Dallas, but renting has stayed even. San Antonio’s job market has consistently been outperforming the national average job growth for several years. If you’re looking for a new job opportunity, these are three cities to consider. This is what rent would look like if you lived in these cities:
- Austin: $1180 (1-bedroom), $1545 (2-bedroom)
- Dallas: $1250 (1-bedroom), $1730 (2-bedroom)
- San Antonio: $943 (1-bedroom), $1162 (2-bedroom)
2. Georgia – Atlanta
Atlanta is home to several companies, big and small – Coca-Cola Company and Delta, just to name some. But this city also has a slightly higher price tag for its rentals. And as we’ve covered in our previous blog, there is a higher population of renters. There may be some competition for apartments with better amenities or are more affordable. We’ve included this city on our list because of its excellent job opportunities, location, schools, and local attractions. A 1-bedroom will go for about $1500/month and a 2-bedroom for around $1955/month. Although Atlanta’s rent prices are the highest on our list, many of the rentals in Atlanta come with other amenities. Many apartment complexes in Atlanta are spacious, and it’s not uncommon to find newly renovated spaces.
The bottom line
Traditionally, buying a home has always been the winner of the old buying vs. renting debate. When you own a home, you get to build equity, which was the “smart thing to do.” Whereas renting was seen as the equivalent of “throwing your money away.” But attitudes towards renting have changed in the past decade or so, especially among millennials. In our opinion, whether it’s “worth it” to buy a home or rent depends on several factors – affordability, job market, additional expenses, and your plans for the future, just to name a few.
One of the biggest advantages of renting is that it’s much more affordable than buying a home. If you wanted to own a home in a city center like Austin, TX, houses around $500K could require a down payment of $25K at a minimum (5%). The loan would come out to be around $1,900/month with a 3% interest rate. In comparison, the average rent in Austin is $1,411. Best of all, when you rent, you don’t have to worry about paying property taxes or HOA fees, doing maintenance or repairs in your home, or tending to the lawn. Renting also allows you a lot more freedom than owning a home. You don’t have to worry about selling your house before moving. Once your lease is up, you can pack up and leave.
Our list of the best places to rent in the US can go on forever, but hopefully, the ones we’ve picked out have given you some thought in your search for your next place to call home and also if you should rent or buy.
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