For most Americans, housing costs are their biggest monthly expense. So if you’re thinking about relocating, it makes sense to factor the cost of rent heavily into your decision about where to move.
But in some cities, other cost-of-living expenses — such as utilities, transportation, food, etc. — will outweigh your rent costs. If that’s the case, you might save more money if you pick a city with a slightly higher rent, but a much lower overall cost of living.
Click through to see the places with the cheapest rent — but a high cost of living.
11. Henderson, Nev.
Median rent: $1,424
Average cost of living: 100.4
Nevada’s second-largest city, Henderson, has the lowest cost of living on our list — along with its larger neighbor to the north, Las Vegas.
Low utility costs help keep the overall cost of living in Henderson on par with the national average. However, the median rent here is just barely below the national median of $1,441. Still, you’re likely better off renting here because Nevada is one of a few states where it’s more expensive to own a home than to rent.
Click through to see more states where it’s cheaper to rent than to own a home.
10. Las Vegas
Median rent: $1,284
Average cost of living: 100.4
The median rent in Nevada’s largest city is more than $150 cheaper than the national median. Las Vegas also tops a GOBankingRates list of cities with the biggest cost of living decrease in 2017.
But that doesn’t mean it’s a necessarily cheap place to live. Grocery, health and transportation costs are higher in Vegas than the national averages.
Median rent: $846
Average cost of living: 103.3
Cleveland is one of the cheapest places to rent in the U.S. if you want to live in a large city. The median rent in this city on the shore of Lake Erie is nearly $600 cheaper than the national median. Although you’ll save money on housing costs, you’ll pay more for other living expenses in Cleveland — especially groceries and health.
Median rent: $1,011
Average cost of living: 104.4
Milwaukee has the second-lowest median rent among the cities on our list. If you live here, you’ll need those savings to help cover the high cost of health and utilities.
Healthcare costs are 13 percent more expensive than the national average. And utility costs are 11 percent higher. However, grocery and transportation costs are actually lower than the national average.
See How You Stack Up: The Average American Spends This Much on Rent
7. Fort Worth, Texas
Median rent: $1,428
Average cost of living: 104.5
You can get a decent-sized apartment in Fort Worth for only $1,000. The median rent in Fort Worth is lower than the national median — and the median rent in nearby Dallas. But high health and utility costs make the overall cost of living here higher than the national average.
Health costs in Fort Worth are a whopping 21 percent higher than the national average. Utility costs are 10 percent higher. However, transportation costs are cheaper here than in any city on our list.
Median rent: $1,296
Average cost of living: 105.6
The average cost of rent in Maryland’s largest city is relatively affordable. You’ll pay $145 less in Baltimore than the national median rent.
However, other costs of living — especially groceries — are higher. Groceries in Baltimore are over 12 percent more expensive than in the nation as a whole.
5. Bakersfield, Calif.
Median rent: $1,345
Average cost of living: 106.8
California is one of the most expensive places to call home, but you can find more affordable housing in cities such as Bakersfield.
The median rent in this city in California’s Central Valley is $96 cheaper than the national median. However, the overall cost of living in Bakersfield is nearly 7 percent higher. Utilities are especially expensive — 12 percent higher than the national average.
Median rent: $1,441
Average cost of living: 108.4
The third-largest city in Texas barely makes it onto our list because the median rent is the same as the national median. But that means rent still is cheaper here than in half of the large U.S. cities.
However, the overall cost of living in Dallas isn’t cheap. Utilities and health are especially expensive — 20 percent and 17 percent higher, respectively, than the national average.
Did You Know? These Are Expenses Your Landlord Should Be Covering
3. Fresno, Calif.
Median rent: $1,281
Average cost of living: 110.5
Thanks to a relatively low average cost of rent and a relatively high minimum wage, Fresno is one of a handful of major cities where you can realistically live on the minimum wage.
However, health, grocery, utility and transportation costs are higher here than the national average.
2. Modesto, Calif.
Median rent: $1,400
Average cost of living: 111.4
Like Bakersfield and Fresno, Modesto is in California’s Central Valley — where rent is cheaper than in the state’s largest cities along the coast. But the cost of living in Modesto is more expensive than in its Central Valley neighbors and in the nation as a whole.
Groceries are particularly expensive — 14 percent higher than the national average.
Median rent: $1,220
Average cost of living: 114.3
Philadelphia is one of the U.S. cities where the cost of living is rising quickly, according to another GOBankingRates study. Despite having a cost of living that’s 14 percent higher than the national average, Philadelphia still has affordable housing. The median rent in Pennsylvania’s largest city is $221 cheaper than the national median and the third lowest among cities on our list.
Methodology: GOBankingRates used U.S. Census Bureau data to identify the largest cities in the U.S. We used data from Zillow to find which cities had median rents lower than the national median. Using data from Sperling’s Best Places, we then identified which of those cities had a cost of living higher than the national average.
About the Author
Cameron Huddleston is an award-winning journalist with more than 18 years of experience writing about personal finance. Her work has appeared in Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, Business Insider, Chicago Tribune, Fortune, MSN, USA Today and many more print and online publications. She also is the author of Mom and Dad, We Need to Talk: How to Have Essential Conversations With Your Parents About Their Finances.
U.S. News & World Report named her one of the top personal finance experts to follow on Twitter, and AOL Daily Finance named her one of the top 20 personal finance influencers to follow on Twitter. She has appeared on CNBC, CNN, MSNBC and “Fox & Friends” and has been a guest on ABC News Radio, Wall Street Journal Radio, NPR, WTOP in Washington, D.C., KGO in San Francisco and other personal finance radio shows nationwide. She also has been interviewed and quoted as an expert in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Forbes, MarketWatch and more.
She has an MA in economic journalism from American University and BA in journalism and Russian studies from Washington & Lee University.