These Growing Cities Offer the Most Affordable Rent Prices in the US
With high mortgage rates discouraging potential home buyers, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that more than 35% of U.S. households are turning to rentals. While many American cities are notoriously expensive, there are some growing communities where rental prices fit more reasonably with average salaries.
Analyzing data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), MoneyGeek ranked the most affordable, growing cities for renters based on the cost of a single-bedroom apartment, average income and vacancy rates. The biggest surprise? All but one of the cities in the top ten are in the Sun Belt.
The 10 Most Affordable, Growing US Cities for Renting
Ideally, rent should be no higher than 30% of a person’s monthly income; all but two of our top ten growing cities for renters were below 30%. Renters will have no trouble finding inventory in our number one spot, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, where vacancy rates are 12.5% and a one-bedroom apartment rents for $873. Aside from Kansas City, Missouri, all of the top growing cities are located in the Sun Belt, with three Florida cities occupying top ten spots.
- 10. Tampa, Florida
- 31.7%Income Spent on Housing
- $1,488Monthly Rent for a One-Bedroom Apartment
- 7.5%Vacancy Rate
- 9. Phoenix, Arizona
- 31.2%Income Spent on Housing
- $1,584Monthly Rent for a One-Bedroom Apartment
- 7.0%Vacancy Rate
- 8. Cape Coral, Florida
- 29.1%Income Spent on Housing
- $1,240Monthly Rent for a One-Bedroom Apartment
- 11.8%Vacancy Rate
- 7. San Antonio, Texas
- 28.6%Income Spent on Housing
- $1,279Monthly Rent for a One-Bedroom Apartment
- 7.2%Vacancy Rate
- 6. Jacksonville, Florida
- 25.6%Income Spent on Housing
- $1,195Monthly Rent for a One-Bedroom Apartment
- 7.4%Vacancy Rate
- 5. Greensboro, North Carolina
- 24.0%Income Spent on Housing
- $981Monthly Rent for a One-Bedroom Apartment
- 11.7%Vacancy Rate
- 4. Knoxville, Tennessee
- 22.6%Income Spent on Housing
- $1,024Monthly Rent for a One-Bedroom Apartment
- 9.0%Vacancy Rate
- 3. Kansas City, Missouri
- 22.6%Income Spent on Housing
- $1,082Monthly Rent for a One-Bedroom Apartment
- 8.9%Vacancy Rate
- 2. Tucson, Arizona
- 22.3%Income Spent on Housing
- $951Monthly Rent for a One-Bedroom Apartment
- 8.2%Vacancy Rate
- 1. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
- 20.4%Income Spent on Housing
- $873Monthly Rent for a One-Bedroom Apartment
- 12.5%Vacancy Rate
Factors to Consider When Searching for an Affordable Rental
Once you find an affordable, growing city to rent in, the next step as a long-time or first-time renter is finding an apartment or rental home. Determining your housing budget is the first step. Ideally, housing costs shouldn’t take up more than 30% of your income. To determine how much rent you can afford, multiply your annual income by 0.3 and divide that number by 12.
Once you have a price range, it’s time to look for an affordable house or apartment for rent. Consider places that are a reasonable commute to your workplace and offer decent access to the amenities you’ll need. Visit prospective neighborhoods at different times of day to make sure the noise and traffic are manageable. Then ask yourself what amenities are must-haves depending on your personal situation: do you need a pet-friendly rental? A washer-dryer located in the unit?
After finding a rental that meets all your needs, be sure to purchase an affordable renter’s insurance policy. You may ask why you need renter’s insurance, but many renters are surprised to learn that your landlord’s insurance likely only covers damage to the structure and not to your own personal property.
Renter’s insurance may not be required by the landlord, but purchasing it protects your own personal property from loss due to fires, natural disasters or theft. Damages from these events will cost you significantly more in the long run than a renter’s insurance policy, which, on average, is priced at just $13 per month. Renter’s insurance also covers medical bills if you’re injured at home and protects you from liability in case of accidental damage to the rental property. MoneyGeek’s guide on how to compare renter’s insurance quotes can help you to find an insurance policy that offers good coverage at an affordable price.
MoneyGeek analyzed 95 of the most populous metropolitan areas to find the most affordable growing cities for renters based on income-to-rent ratio and vacancy rates.
To calculate the income-to-rent ratio for each city, MoneyGeek used wage data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the cost of rent for a single-bedroom apartment in 2023 from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
We used data from the United States Census Bureau to determine population growth rates for each city. MoneyGeek identified cities with population growth above 0% and included those in our analysis.
MoneyGeek also used United States Census data to find the cities with vacancy rates — the percentage of available rental units — above the national average of 6.4% as of the fourth quarter of 2022.
About Rachel Newcomb, Ph.D.
- HUD. "50TH PERCENTILE RENT ESTIMATES." Accessed March 23, 2023.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "State and Metro Area Employment, Hours, & Earnings." Accessed March 31, 2023.
- United States Census Bureau. "Explore Census Data." Accessed March 31, 2023.
- United States Census Bureau. "QuickFacts: United States." Accessed March 31, 2023.