GOBankingRates

The Best Big Cities for Renters

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You can find plenty of cheap places to rent across the U.S. — especially in small towns where the overall cost of living is low. But you don’t necessarily have to give up the amenities of a big city just to score a cheap apartment. In fact, you can find affordable places to rent in several major metropolitan areas.

Click through to see the list of the most affordable places to rent.

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20. Baltimore

Median Rent: $1,290
Monthly Income: $3,946
% of Income Consumed by Rent: 32.7%
Livability Score: 60

Baltimore doesn’t have the highest average apartment rent on our list. However, Maryland’s largest city ranks 20th because the median income is lower than in half of the other cities, which means a higher percentage of monthly income is consumed by rent here.

The city’s relatively low median income — along with a high crime rate and a cost of living that’s higher than in the rest of the state — give it a low livability score.

Click through to see more cities with a high cost of living.

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19. Tampa, Fla.

Median Rent: $1,367
Monthly Income: $4,200
% of Income Consumed by Rent: 32.5%
Livability Score: 69

Tampa has one of the highest livability scores in our rankings thanks to its warm weather, amenities and relatively low cost of living. It’s also one of the cheapest places to retire, according to a separate study.

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18. Las Vegas

Median Rent: $1,327
Monthly Income: $4,260
% of Income Consumed by Rent: 31.2%
Livability Score: 61

Las Vegas isn’t just a tourist destination — it’s also a good place to move for affordable rent. With the city’s relatively high median wages, monthly rent will consume about 31 percent of income. In fact, it’s one of the places where you can afford to live off less than $50,000, another GOBankingRates study found.

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17. Atlanta

Median Rent: $1,379
Monthly Income: $4,487
% of Income Consumed by Rent: 30.7%
Livability Score: 64

Atlanta has the third-highest median rent on our list. But it’s one of the best cities to rent thanks to its relatively high median income — which means less than 31 percent of monthly salary is needed to pay rent.

However, average apartment rental cost is expected to rise because Atlanta is one of the cities where the cost of living will soar in 2018.

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16. Detroit

Median Rent: $748
Monthly Income: $2,342
% of Income Consumed by Rent: 31.9%
Livability Index: 49

Detroit has the lowest median monthly rent in our rankings. However, it doesn’t make it to the top of our list because low wages in the city translates into rent consuming a higher percentage of monthly income than in other cities. Plus, its livability score — the lowest among the cities on our list — pulls it down in the rankings.

Thinking About Owning a Home? Here’s the Cost of Renting vs. Owning a Home in Every State

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15. Phoenix

Median Rent: $1,330
Monthly Income: $4,339
% of Income Consumed by Rent: 30.7%
Livability Score: 65

The median rent in Phoenix is among the highest on our list. But the city’s median income also is among the highest in our rankings, which is why rent consumes just 30.7 percent of the median monthly income.

However, Phoenix might not be able to maintain its spot on this list much longer since it’s one of the cities where rent prices have increased the most.

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14. San Antonio

Median Rent: $1,279
Monthly Income: $4,106
% of Income Consumed by Rent: 31.2%
Livability Score: 71

Despite having relatively affordable monthly rent, the median monthly income in San Antonio is among the 10 lowest in our rankings. That’s why 31.2 percent of income is consumed by rent. Still, San Antonio is more livable than most of the cities on our list because of its overall low cost of living, warm weather and ample amenities.

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13. Fort Worth, Texas

Median Rent: $1,427
Monthly Income: $4,702
% of Income Consumed by Rent: 30.3%
Livability Score: 74

Fort Worth has one of the highest livability scores on our list because it offers so many big-city amenities. But, it also has the second-highest median rent in our rankings. Renting in Fort Worth still is affordable, considering only about 30 percent of the median monthly income is consumed by rent.

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12. Indianapolis

Median Rent: $1,125
Monthly Income: $3,718
% of Income Consumed by Rent: 30.3%
Livability Score: 63

Indianapolis had one of the largest cost of living increases in 2017 — largely because of rising home prices. Average apartment rent, on the other hand, has remained stagnant. You still can get an affordable apartment that will consume just 30.3 percent of the median monthly income.

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11. Columbus, Ohio

Median Rent: $1,221
Monthly Income: $4,134
% of Income Consumed by Rent: 29.5%
Livability Score: 68

The average rent in Columbus is affordable even though it’s Ohio’s capital and largest city. It’s also the first big city on our list where rent consumes less than 30 percent of income.

Thanks to its low cost of living and abundance of things to do, Columbus is one of the best cities to retire on a budget of $1,000 a month, another GOBankingRates study found.

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10. Albuquerque, N.M.

Median Rent: $1,202
Monthly Income: $4,210
% of Income Consumed by Rent: 28.5%
Livability Score: 61

The largest city in New Mexico is also one of the 10 best cities to rent apartments. The median rent in Albuquerque is lower than the rent in half of the cities on our list.

Another bonus: Thanks to its low cost of living, Albuquerque is one of a handful of cities where you can realistically live on minimum wage, a recent GOBankingRates study found.

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9. Pittsburgh, Pa.

Median Rent: $1,105
Monthly Income: $3,726
% of Income Consumed by Rent: 29.7%
Livability Score: 70

Pittsburgh has the seventh-lowest median rent on our list. Because wages are relatively low, though, rent consumes a higher percentage of monthly income than in Albuquerque or Columbus. But Pittsburgh’s higher livability score helps it land higher in our rankings.

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8. St. Louis, Mo.

Median Rent: $944
Monthly Income: $3,362
% of Income Consumed by Rent: 28.1%
Livability Score: 54

This major city on the Mississippi River has the third-lowest median rent in our rankings. However, rent still consumes about 28 percent of income because the median income is relatively low.

Plus, St. Louis is pulled down in the rankings because of its livability score, which is the second lowest among the cities on our list.

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7. Jacksonville, Fla.

Median Rent: $1,190
Monthly Income: $4,275
% of Income Consumed by Rent: 27.8%
Livability Score: 66

When people think of big cities in Florida, Miami likely comes to mind. But Jacksonville is actually the state’s largest city and a cheap place to rent. Thanks to the city’s relatively high median income, only 27.8 percent goes toward rent each month.

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6. Charlotte, N.C.

Median Rent: $1,372
Monthly Income: $5,085
% of Income Consumed by Rent: 27%
Livability Score: 68

The average rent in North Carolina’s largest city is actually higher than in most cities on our list. But the median monthly income is the second highest in our rankings. As a result, a smaller percentage of income is consumed by rent in Charlotte than in most large cities.

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5. Raleigh, N.C.

Median Rent: $1,436
Monthly Income: $5,371
% of Income Consumed by Rent: 26.7%
Livability Score: 75

North Carolina’s capital and second-largest city has the highest median rent of any city on our list; it also has the highest median income. So monthly rent takes a smaller percentage of income in Raleigh than other cities. Its livability score — the highest on our list — also helps propel Raleigh to the No. 5 spot in our rankings.

Find the Perfect Apartment: Here’s What an Average Apartment Costs in 50 US Cities

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4. Kansas City, Mo.

Median Rent: $1,079
Monthly Income: $4,269.58
% of Income Consumed by Rent: 25.3%
Livability Score: 59

The largest city in Missouri has the fifth-lowest median rent among the cities on our list. And it consumes only about 25 percent of income thanks to relatively high wages in the city.

Despite its high crime rate and poor education system, Kansas City’s livability score gets a boost due to its abundance of local amenities and sunny climate.

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3. Louisville, Ky.

Median Rent: $1,029
Monthly Income: $4,083
% of Income Consumed by Rent: 25.2%
Livability Score: 62

Kentucky’s largest city has the fourth-lowest median rent on our list. However, it makes it to the No. 3 spot in our rankings because the percentage of income consumed by rent is the third lowest among large cities.

Find Out: Places Where 50% of Americans Can’t Afford a Home

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2. Memphis, Tenn.

Median Rent: $824
Monthly Income: $3,236
% of Income Consumed by Rent: 25.5%
Livability Score: 55

With the second-lowest median rent among the cities on the list, Memphis is one of the best cities to rent. It ranks higher than Louisville and Kansas City because a slightly smaller percentage of income is consumed by rent.

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1. Oklahoma City, Okla.

Median Rent: $1,083
Monthly Income: $4,410
% of Income Consumed by Rent: 24.6%
Livability Score: 72

Oklahoma doesn’t have the cheapest rent (it’s actually the sixth lowest), but a relatively high median income in Oklahoma offsets the fact that a handful of other cities have lower median rent. It’s the only city on our list where the percentage of income consumed by rent is less than 25 percent.

Up Next: What $1,500 in Rent Gets You in Every State

Methodology: The list of cities was based on 75 largest cities by population. Monthly income was calculated by dividing median household income by 12. Median rent was divided by monthly income to get the percentage of income consumed by rent. Cities in which rent consumed 40% or more of monthly income were screened out. Each city was given score for 1) median rent; 2) percentage of income consumed by rent; 3) livability score. The top 20 cities that scored the best made the final ranking.