The Average American Spends This Much on Rent — See How You Stack Up

Home is where the heart is, but it comes in a range of prices.

You might remember your parents saying that 30 percent of your monthly income should be the most you spend on rent. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median income is $56,516 as of 2015, the latest year for which data is available. That means a total of $16,955 per year, or $1,413 per month, would be the norm rent budget across the U.S.

Not necessarily so. A 2017 GOBankingRates survey showed that the average respondent spent $688 on rent. But others spend far more. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, about 12 million households — more than 10 percent — pay more than 50 percent of their annual incomes on the roof over their heads.

Monthly rental amounts also varied greatly from state to state, by age group and other demographics. Keep reading to see how your rent compares to other Americans’ rent in your region.

Living Out West Is Most Expensive Overall

Survey respondents living in the western U.S. reported spending an average of $830 per month on rent, the highest of any other geographic area in the country. Not surprisingly, California had some of the highest rents in the region, with monthly house rental averaging $2,430, just $20 less than the median apartment prices of a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco, according to Apartment List. Compare that to Seattle’s rents, where the average apartment rent is $1,370, and you can live in a rented house for $1,723.

Make Your Money Work for You

Alaska and Hawaii are two of the most expensive states to live in, but you can rent an Alaskan house for $1,755, and a one-bedroom apartment for a median price of $950. With a high cost of living, Hawaii’s typical one-bedroom apartment goes for more than the house in Alaska at $1,795. American rentals in Hawaii average $2,433, just $3 more than American homes for rent in San Francisco.

Living in the Northeast Means Higher Rent

The Northeast is the second most expensive area to rent in the country, with residents averaging an outlay of $739 per month. If you guessed that Boston is one of the priciest cities in the nation to rent, you’re right. You’ll pay $2,176 to rent a home in the state of Massachusetts and pay a median of $1,680 for a one bedroom in Boston. That might seem reasonable compared with the median one-bedroom apartment rent of $2,090 in New York City. Renting a home in New York runs $2,184 on average, which is more expensive than buying one: The average monthly mortgage is just $1,766.

Make Your Money Work for You

If you really want to save money in your monthly budget, move to a rural area like Shamokin, Penn., where rent on a two-bedroom apartment averages just $400 per month. The city has a population of just over 7,000 with a median age of 41 years old. You might need to take a cut in pay, however: The median household income is $31,088, but at $400 per month for rent, you’ll only spend 15 percent of your income on your housing.

The Midwest Has the Cheapest Rent

Six of the 20 cheapest places to rent are found in the Midwest. Detroit rolls in as the most affordable metro area in the country with a one-bedroom apartment averaging $600 and a single-family home averaging $750 per month. Two-thirds of the city’s population are of working age, ranging from 18 to 64 years old, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and workers make an average of $0.90 more than the mean hourly national average wage at $24.76, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Make Your Money Work for You

On average, GOBankingRates survey respondents across the Midwest reported paying $570 per month for rent, the cheapest in the country overall. The cheapest metropolitan cities to rent in include Cleveland, Ohio; Wichita, Kan.; Indianapolis; and Memphis, Tenn.

Housing Can Be Cheap in the South, but the Cost of Living Isn’t

The average American in the South spends more on groceries, but Southerners report spending just $642 a month on rent, which is only $2 more than the median price you’d pay for a one-bedroom apartment in Huntsville, Ala.

Residents living in Fayetteville, N.C., enjoy the lowest rents on one-bedroom apartments at a $560 median monthly cost, but a home runs $1,157 per month. Fort Lauderdale, Fla., has the most expensive rents in the region, with one-bedroom tenants paying a median price of $1,140. Expect to pay more than $1,000 per month for a one-bedroom in Orlando and Miami, too.

Up Next: How Much Apartment You Can Rent for $1K in 50 Major U.S. Cities

Share this article:

facebook sharing button
twitter sharing button
linkedin sharing button
email sharing button

About the Author

Jodi Thornton-O'Connell

Jodi O’Connell is a freelance wordsmith based in Sedona, Arizona, who writes about everything from vacation vagary and adventure sports to real estate and pets. She spent more than a decade in Arizona’s real estate industry advising first-time homebuyers and commercial investors before indulging her passion for the written word on a full-time basis. Her articles appear on websites as diverse as U.S. News and World Report, USA Today, Hipmunk, Roots Rated, and Travelocity.

Read More


See Today's Best
Banking Offers