Living in some of America’s largest cities is not always easy, especially for someone who’s not making a lot of money. The price of a house often makes it impossible to consider anything other than renting, but the cost of renting in America can make it impossible to take advantage of all of the culture and fine dining that you’re paying so much to live near.
Fortunately, even among some of America’s most expensive places to live, there can be some oases of affordability, as a new GOBankingRates study has uncovered. The study looked at some of the most expensive cities in the country and then identified which neighborhoods had the lowest median rents. And although some don’t offer an enormous price break over the rest of the city, others can save you upwards of $1,000 a month or more.
Click through to see the most affordable neighborhoods in America’s most expensive cities.
22. Chicago: South Shore
City Median List Price: $315,000
Neighborhood Median Rent: $1,043
Residents of South Shore are likely grateful for the price break they’re getting on the rental prices throughout the Windy City. You need an income of $66,162 to live comfortably in Chi-town, but the median income for the neighborhood is just under $30,000 a year.
21. Houston: Gulfton
City Median List Price: $329,950
Neighborhood Median Rent: $748
Gulfton — located to the southwest of Houston’s city center — offers a steep discount on rent when compared with the rest of the city. That’s likely welcome news for anyone looking to live in one of the most affordable cities for foodies without blowing their budget on living expenses.
20. Austin, Texas: Georgian Acres
City Median List Price: $389,000
Neighborhood Median Rent: $678
Georgian Acres is one of the cities with the biggest gaps between its median rent and that of the rest of the city as a whole. Given that Austin’s median rental price is about $1,800 a month, you’re saving over $1,000 by living there. And there are probably plenty of residents looking for ways to save wherever they can given that Austin is one of the cities where the cost of living is rising the fastest.
19. Dallas: Lake Highlands
City Median List Price: $399,000
Neighborhood Median Rent: $1,175
Renting the average apartment in Dallas costs about $1,300 a month, so although Lake Highlands might be providing a smaller price break than most, it’s still an additional $125-plus a month that you can put toward something other than rent.
18. Reno, Nev.: Old Northwest – West University
City Median List Price: $420,000
Neighborhood Median Rent: $1,350
The Biggest Little City in the World also charges some big rents for relatively little apartments. However, if you make your home in the Old Northwest – West University neighborhood — you’ll be getting a better deal than most of the rest of the city. One way to spend the money you’re saving? Buying real estate nearby: Reno is one of the best cities to own an investment property in.
17. Portland, Ore.: Downtown
City Median List Price: $459,900
Neighborhood Median Rent: $1,695
Downtown Portland touts its walkability, tax-free shopping and access to green spaces, but the neighborhood’s biggest perk might be its affordability. With a median rental price under $1,700, you’re likely saving money over an apartment anywhere else in the city.
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16. Miami: Allapattah
City Median List Price: $462,000
Neighborhood Median Rent: $1,398
Miami is one of the cities where more than half of its residents can’t afford to buy a house, meaning there’s a large renting community out there that is happy to have an option like Allapattah. With median rental prices in Allapattah sitting under $1,400 a month, this northwest Miami neighborhood could be a welcome relief.
That said, much of the current population probably sees those rents as less of a perk than a necessity: At just under $23,000 apiece, Allapattah’s median income is the lowest in this study.
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15. Denver: Capitol Hill
City Median List Price: $485,000
Neighborhood Median Rent: $1,750
The Capitol Hill neighborhood is home to the Molly Brown House, a museum that preserves the home of Denver philanthropist Margaret Brown — better known as “The Unsinkable Molly Brown.” And if what’s making you sink today is Denver’s steep housing costs for renters and buyers alike, Capitol Hill might be your answer, with median rental prices over $650 cheaper than the city as a whole.
14. Fort Lauderdale, Fla.: Imperial Point
City Median List Price: $489,999
Neighborhood Median Rent: $1,450
Located between Fort Lauderdale and Pompano Beach, Imperial Point is near the ocean but still offers a steep discount of over $500 on rent compared with Fort Lauderdale as a whole. And although it’s close to Allapattah — Miami’s cheapest neighborhood — median incomes would indicate that Imperial Point residents are doing much better than their neighbors to the south. The median income of almost $60,000 is approaching triple that of Allapattah.
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13. Jersey City, N.J.: West Side
City Median List Price: $520,000
Neighborhood Median Rent: $1,600
Adjacent to the Hackensack River Waterfront and McGinley Square, West Side is the most affordable neighborhood in Jersey City. And although $1,600 might not exactly scream “discount” to you, it’s only getting worse: Jersey City is one of the cities where rental prices have increased the most.
12. Washington, D.C.: Cathedral Heights
City Median List Price: $559,900
Neighborhood Median Rent: $1,950
Cathedral Heights might be the cheapest place to live in Washington, D.C., but that doesn’t make it a working-class neighborhood by any stretch of the imagination. Not only is the rent almost $2,000 a month, but the median income in the neighborhood is almost $120,000 a year.
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11. Scottsdale, Ariz.: South Scottsdale
City Median List Price: $622,000
Neighborhood Median Rent: $1,799
Unsurprisingly, South Scottsdale is south of Scottsdale, wedged between that city and nearby Tempe and Phoenix. At just under $1,800 a month, you’ll be beating prices in the rest of the city by more than $400. Interestingly, affordable South Scottsdale is immediately to the southeast of Paradise Valley, the wealthiest city in the state.
10. Honolulu: McCully-Moiliili
City Median List Price: $639,000
Neighborhood Median Rent: $1,688
McCully-Moiliili might be a mouthful for some, but it’s also a godsend for any Honolulu residents struggling to keep pace with the high cost of living and difficult housing market. That median rental price in the neighborhood — located just across the Ala Wai Canal from Waikiki — is over $650 a month less than the city as a whole.
And given the area, that can be a major relief. The nearby 96821 ZIP code is the most expensive ZIP code in the state.
9. Arlington, Va.: North
City Median List Price: $645,000
Neighborhood Median Rent: $1,195
The most affordable neighborhood in Arlington, Va., is a place that’s big on minimalism, both in its name and its rents. In addition to having just a five-letter name, North has a median rental price just under $1,200. And although that might still seem a touch high to some, note that the city as a whole pays a median monthly rent of $2,820, meaning that residents of North are typically saving over $1,600 a month — the biggest difference of any neighborhood in this study.
8. San Diego: Grantville
City Median List Price: $679,900
Neighborhood Median Rent: $1,650
Located northeast of the city, Grantville is perhaps most notable as the location of the Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala, the very first mission in the state of California. But the benefits of living there extend beyond a rich historical background: The median rent there is almost $1,000 less a month than San Diego as a whole.
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7. Seattle: Greenwood
City Median List Price: $725,950
Neighborhood Median Rent: $2,300
Ensconced between Crown Hill and Licton Springs, Greenwood is a relative oasis of affordability in a city that is also home to some of the fastest-rising housing markets in the U.S. Although Greenwood is less expensive, Seattle neighborhoods Beacon Hill and Pinehurst are both among the 20 hottest neighborhoods in the country.
6. Boston: West Roxbury
City Median List Price: $749,000
Neighborhood Median Rent: $2,073
If you’re planning on living in Boston, one way to avoid paying the sky-high housing prices is by spending a night — or most of your nights, really — at West Roxbury. Although over $2,000 a month in rent might seem steep to many, Boston as a whole has a median rent north of $2,600.
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5. Los Angeles: San Pedro
City Median List Price: $779,000
Neighborhood Median Rent: $2,240
Located on the Pacific Ocean in sunny Southern California near Long Beach and Torrance, San Pedro’s median rent of $2,240 is actually a pretty steep discount on the nearly $3,000 a month it takes to rent a median-priced apartment in the city as a whole.
That said, for plenty of people that price could be worth it. Los Angeles is the best city to land your dream job if you’re planning on being a civil engineer.
4. New York: Williamsbridge
City Median List Price: $799,000
Neighborhood Median Rent: $1,450
Located in the Bronx near to the Bronx Zoo and the New York Botanical Garden, Williamsbridge is proof that living in New York City doesn’t necessarily have to cost an arm and a leg. That median rent of under $1,500 is almost $1,000 a month cheaper than the city as a whole.
That said, the neighborhood’s median income of under $40,000 a year would indicate that the area residents are still struggling mightily. The cost to live comfortably in New York City is just shy of $100,000 a year.
3. San Jose, Calif.: East San Jose
City Median List Price: $984,000
Neighborhood Median Rent: $3,200
If you’re planning on buying a home in San Jose, you might want to prepare yourself to drop six figures on your new digs. And if you’re thinking that’s completely ridiculous and you’ll rent instead, be prepared to shell out close to $3,500 every month for your apartment. So, although East San Jose’s median rental price of $3,200 might not seem very “affordable,” it’s your best option in a city beset by skyrocketing housing costs.
It’s worth noting that rent isn’t the only thing on the rise: San Jose is one of the cities where incomes are growing the fastest.
2. Irvine, Calif.: Business District
City Median List Price: $1,026,000
Neighborhood Median Rent: $2,500
Irvine’s business district has a median rent of $2,500 — one of the highest in this study — but that still represents a huge price break over what you can expect in the rest of the city. Irvine as a whole will cost you about $3,258 for a median-price apartment, so you’re saving over $9,000 a year in its most affordable neighborhood.
1. San Francisco: Lower Pacific Heights
City Median List Price: $1,195,000
Neighborhood Median Rent: $3,472
It should come as little surprise that San Francisco is the worst city to be making minimum wage, and that’s likely still the case even in Lower Pacific Heights, where you’ll save over $8,000 a year off of San Francisco’s median rent of over $4,000. That said, even in Lower Pacific Heights there doesn’t appear to be all that many people trying to get by on a minimum wage — the median income in the neighborhood is over $130,000 a year, the highest in the study.
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Finding the cheapest place to live in major American cities can be next to impossible for many members of the working class, but there are options that can mean a major price break.
The biggest gap between an individual neighborhood and the city as a whole — North in Arlington, Va. — came out to $1,625 a month. For a full year, you would save $19,500 on rent, which is about a third of the median income for North residents — $57,166.50.
Click through to read more about the best and worst cities to be a minimum wage earner.
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Photo Disclaimer: Please note photos are for representational purposes only and may not feature the specific neighborhoods mentioned.
Methodology: To determine the most affordable neighborhoods, GOBankingRates analyzed the 100 largest U.S. cities in terms of median listing price and the cheapest median rental price for a home in a neighborhood located within the city. Housing price data for cities and neighborhoods was sourced from Zillow. Household incomes for neighborhoods were included as supplemental information.