The Cheapest Places to Live in Georgia

Rental prices are peachy in some parts of Georgia.

Georgia, also known as the Peach State, has plenty more to offer outside the metro Atlanta area. With nearly 10 million residents, the state features mountain views, thriving cultural hubs and smaller towns with rich histories.

Whether you’re looking for a little more space or a bit of nature, here are the cheapest places to live in Georgia.

Georgia average rent prices

With Georgia gaining more recognition through Hollywood and its music and tech industries, it’s only a matter of time before everyone wants to call the state home.

While Atlanta neighborhoods continue to rise, luckily, you can find more affordable one-bedrooms for $1,377 a month on average — a slight change year-over-year — across the state.

The cheapest cities in Georgia for renters

While most new Georgia residents tend to stick closer to metro Atlanta, don’t knock the rest of the state. If you go out a little bit farther from Atlanta, you’ll get more space and even a yard for your money.

One thing to keep in mind is distance and time in traffic — Atlanta highway traffic is infamous for a reason so take that into account. Take a look at the 10 cheapest places to live in Georgia for renters below and pack your bags.

10. Dalton

dalton ga

Source: Rent.com / Dalton Village
  • One-bedroom average rent price: $809
  • Average rent change in the past year: 13.12%

Did you know that Dalton is world-famous for its carpet stores? You’ll see them lining I-75 as you drive by. But it’s also a city nestled in the Appalachian Mountains with access to hiking trails, waterfalls, mountain biking at Raising Woods and more. Live music is everywhere around this town, so whether you’re looking for cultural events, a little history or an art exhibit, Dalton has it.

Convenient to both Atlanta and Chattanooga, Dalton remains affordable despite an average rent increase of 13 percent in the past year.

9. Cartersville

Cartersville cheapest places to live in Georgia

  • One-bedroom average rent price: $804
  • Average rent change in the past year: 0.63%

Located in Bartow County, Cartersville takes the No. 9 spot on our list of cheapest cities to live in Georgia. Did you know that the first Coca-Cola outdoor wall ad was painted in Cartersville? The city’s museums, including the Booth Western Art Museum and the Tellus Science Museum, are both gems within the city limits.

The city’s rent only saw a slight decrease year over year but remains affordable for those looking to spend time outdoors at Red Top Mountain and fall seasons near Pettit Creek Farms, hanging out with llamas and camels.

8. Clarkston

clarkston ga

Source: Rent.com / Parc 1000
  • One-bedroom average rent price: $781
  • Average rent change in the past year: -6.96%

Up-and-coming Clarkston is about 17 miles away from Atlanta’s city center, making it an ideal location for those that seek to save a few pennies on rent but work in the city. Clarkston has a robust immigrant population, leading to an international dining scene including Indian, Ethiopian, Nepali and other cuisines.

You’ll find plenty of opportunities available to head outdoors, including Stone Mountain Park and the South Peachtree Creek Trail.

7. Forest Park

forest park cheapest places to live in Georgia

  • One-bedroom average rent price: $773
  • Average rent change in the past year: 8.51%

Less than 10 miles from Atlanta, Forest Park’s proximity to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport makes it convenient for business travelers. But for those seeking a little bit of nature, you can spend the weekend at the Reynolds Nature Preserve, a 146-acre preserve with hiking trails, gardens and even a Civil War-era farm.

If you work in downtown Atlanta, Forest Park is an affordable choice as it’s among the cheapest cities in Georgia. Yet, you get the benefit of proximity and access to public transportation.

6. Albany

albany georgia

  • One-bedroom average rent price: $758
  • Average rent change in the past year: -3.10%

Bordering the Flint River, Albany ranks as the eighth-largest city in Georgia. The town has several historic sites related to Native Americans and the Civil Rights Movement. Albany has suffered from several natural disasters, including recent Hurricane Michael and tornadoes.

But the city has rebuilt time and time again with the local economy driven by the Marine Corps base on site. The three-mile Riverfront trail goes along the Flint River, and it’s a great way to spend an afternoon.

5. Athens

athens cheapest places to live in Georgia

  • One-bedroom average rent price: $740
  • Average rent change in the past year: -13.02%

If you’re looking for more affordable rent but want to enjoy the cultural benefits, Athens is for you. Located in Northeast Georgia and home to the University of Georgia, Athens is certainly more than a college town.

Don’t miss the Firefly Trail on a bike or a visit to the State Botanical Garden of Georgia’s beautiful garden and trails. The Georgia Museum of Art offers a glimpse into the Civil War and relevant state history. Historic live music venue Georgia Theatre has hosted artists of all genres for several decades.

4. Warner Robins

warner robbins georgia

  • One-bedroom average rent price: $735
  • Average rent change in the past year: -2.91%

Right off I-75, you’ll find Warner Robins, known mainly for its Air Force Base and proximity to Macon. Both CNN Money and Business Week have named this Georgia city one of America’s best places to live and number four on our list.

The city has seen a decrease in rent of nearly 3 percent for a one-bedroom. You can see the community come together at Warner Robins Little Theatre for its annual plays and Houston Lake in the summers for both swimming and golfing.

3. Rincon

rincon cheapest places to live in Georgia

Source: Rent.com / Jasper Village
  • One-bedroom average rent price: $734
  • Average rent change in the past year: 0.26%

With a long history as a railroad town, Rincon had a significant role in the Civil War. You can see these important markers throughout the town, thanks to the Georgia Historical Society. Nowadays, Rincon sees a lot of young families as a Savannah suburb.

While rents only decreased slightly, this Georgian city remains affordable while offering family-friendly activities like Madrac Farms’ corn maze and playgrounds at Library and Freedom parks.

2. Cumming

cumming georgia

  • One-bedroom average rent price: $662
  • Average rent change in the past year: -44.57%

While some may say Cumming is part of the metro Atlanta area, don’t be fooled by its closeness. At about 40 miles away, it’s quite the trek if you work in the city, but this is also the upside of Cumming.

Away from the city’s bustle, you have access to nature via the Sawnee Mountain Preserve, a 963-acre area with hiking trails, playgrounds and more. Not too far from there, you can jump on Lake Sidney Lanier in the summers, and if you’re a golfer, there are several challenging golf clubs. The many annual Cumming festivals will make you feel right at home in this community.

1. Valdosta

valdosta cheapest places to live in Georgia

  • One-bedroom average rent price: $647
  • Average rent change in the past year: 8%

Nicknamed “Azalea City” for its hundreds of blooms throughout the city, Valdosta has its share of historic architecture like the Crescent at Valdosta Garden Center. The 23-room mansion was built in 1898, and it’s now part of the National Register of Historic Places.

Elsewhere in town, you can catch a musical at the Peach State Summer Theatre or visit the South Georgia Pecan Co. to see how pecans get processed. Valdosta’s one-bedroom rent prices have remained mostly steady, with only an average increase of 8 percent in the past year.

The 25 cheapest places to live in Georgia

Thinking of casting a wider net for your rental search in the Peach State? We’ve got the 25 cheapest places to live in Georgia below.

Methodology

Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and Rent.com’s multifamily rental property inventory of one-bedroom apartments. We pulled our data in December 2020, and it goes back for one year. Our team uses a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each individual unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.

We excluded cities with insufficient inventory from this report.

The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.

Source: rent.com

The Cheapest Places to Live in Texas

Everything is bigger in Texas, as they say. But are rent prices?

Texas is a diverse — and enormous — state. Texans live in giant glass cities and small towns alike. They rent in dusty rural communities along farms to market roads and in massive bedroom suburbs. When you’re looking to move to, or move within, the Lone Star State, where are the cheapest places to live in Texas?

Texas average rent prices

Considering Texas has three of the 10 largest cities in the nation and more than 40 cities with populations above 100,000, you might think finding a cheap place to live would post a challenge. Thankfully, rents around the state are relatively cheap.

Just $1,276 a month on average will snag you a one-bedroom apartment statewide, from the Houston Skyline District to Throckmorton courthouse square. That figure marks just a 0.64 percent increase from this quarter last year.

The cheapest cities in Texas for renters

But what are the cheapest places to live in Texas? We studied the 190 largest cities and towns in Texas and calculated each one’s average rent for a one-bedroom apartment. Many were on the high end, including metropolises like Dallas and Austin, as well as suburbs like Plano and Pearland. But the cheapest places across the state reached every corner of Texas.

Here are the top 10 cheapest places, including rural oases, suburbs and big cities.

10. Amarillo

amarillo tx

  • Average one-bedroom rent price: $717
  • Rent change in the past year: 17.39%

Beef is what’s for dinner in Amarillo. The meatpacking industry employs more Amarillians than any other. In fact, a quarter of the U.S. beef supply is processed in the region. Always an important cowboy town, Amarillo was a hub for historical mega-ranches, including the 140-year-old, still-operating JA Ranch.

Still not enough beef? Hit up Big Texan Steak Ranch restaurant for a free steak dinner. Well, it’s only free if you can finish the 72-ounce steak entrée in under an hour — otherwise, it costs $72. But even if you don’t finish, no worries. You can make up for the expense on your affordable rent. Amarillo is the cheapest place to live in the Panhandle.

But rents have beefed up in Amarillo, too, over the last year. Lease prices have increased by 17.4 percent year to year — the 16th steepest increase in Texas — but incredibly still remain the 10th lowest in the state. A one-bedroom can still be had for just $717 a month on average.

9. Lubbock

lubbock tx

  • Average one-bedroom rent price: $711
  • Rent change in the past year: 1.08%

If you’re looking for a cheaper place to rent in a big Texas city, look no further than Lubbock. Lubbock is the largest city among the top 10, the 11th largest in the state and has a population of more than a quarter-million people. As well, the city also houses the campus of Texas Tech University.

Lubbock also has cotton and a lot of it. The Lubbock area is the largest cotton-producing region in the entire world. Cotton not the fabric of your life? The region also produces 80 percent of the state’s wine grapes — thanks to a unique soil composition — and offers five wineries open to the public. Come nighttime, students and locals descend on Depot District, the Hub City’s entertainment hub, featuring brewpubs, music venues, upscale restaurants, theaters and nightclubs.

Home to Buddy Holly and a Final Four college hoops team, Lubbock can also be home to you at a great price. Average rents list for just $711 a month for a one-bedroom apartment.

8. Clute

clute tx

Source: Rent.com / Vanderbilt Apartments
  • Average one-bedroom rent price: $695
  • Rent change in the past year: -6.86%

Clute is a Houston-area suburb with some interesting claims to fame. As recently as 90 years ago, Clute had a population of just 10 people before the chemical industry established itself. In 2010, a backhoe operator discovered a 38,000-year-old mammoth in a sandpit. And Clute hosts the annual “Great Texas Mosquito Festival” with more than 18,000 visitors each year and presumably just as many mosquitos.

The city of Clute is in a highly industrialized region of Texas along the coastal plains. Its 11,700 residents are spread between chemical manufacturing facilities and national chain retail corridors. Most of the population lives among single-family homes, but there are a number of apartment complexes dotting the city. With no true downtown to speak of, most restaurants and service businesses are along Brazosport Boulevard.

Rents in Clute have dropped nearly 7 percent over the last year, the largest decrease among the top 10 and 26th biggest in the state. The lease rate for a one-bedroom unit comes in at just less than $700 monthly on average.

7. Canyon Lake

canyon lake tx

  • Average one-bedroom rent price: $640
  • Rent change in the past year: 0.00%

Canyon Lake is a relatively new community built around the eponymous lake, which is actually an 8,200-acre manmade reservoir. The damming of the Guadalupe River that formed the lake in the 1960s allowed the city to develop around it. In 1980, just 100 people lived in Canyon Lake. Today, that number is well over 21,000. It’s also the cheapest place to live in Texas Hill Country.

The lake itself is one of the most popular recreational bodies of water in the San Antonio region. There are eight designated park areas around the lake, available for swimming, boating, camping and picnicking. Residential areas are scattered throughout the town along the lake’s 80 miles of shoreline and throughout the neighboring hills.

Among the city’s tourist and recreation destinations are a handful of residential rentals, which are unusually cheap considering its relaxing locale. Just $640 a month will snag you an average one-bedroom apartment.

6. Wichita Falls

wichita falls tx

  • Average one-bedroom rent price: $638
  • Rent change in the past year: 3.36%

Wichita Falls, the largest city in North Texas away from the DFW Metroplex, is the cheapest big city to live in Texas.

The city of 105,000 lies just 15 minutes south of the Oklahoma border. Its Red River Valley location is geographically advantageous, just two hours from both Dallas and Oklahoma City, an hour from its Sooner State sister city of Lawton and four hours down the interstate from that other Wichita in Kansas. This allows The Falls to offer the trappings of a big city but at an affordable cost of living.

Wichita Falls has a bustling downtown anchored by the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame, a performing arts center and the infamous “World’s Littlest Skyscraper.” A century ago, a swindler convinced locals into investing in a 480-foot building downtown but instead received a 480-inch “skyscraper,” which still stands.

As jazz virtuoso Pat Metheny sang in his 21-minute opus, “As falls Wichita, so falls Wichita Falls.” But even with rents not falling (up 3.36 percent year to year), rents are still minuscule. An average one-bedroom apartment rents for just $638 a month.

henrietta tx

Source: Rent.com / Pioneer Crossing Henrietta Senior Community
  • Average one-bedroom rent price: $619
  • Rent change in the past year: 0.00%

At the edge of the Chickasaw Nation just south of the Oklahoma border, Henrietta is the second-largest suburb in the Wichita Falls Region. This North Texas city of 3,100 is one of the oldest towns in the Red River Valley region, dating back to the pre-Civil War era.

The city’s grid system is highly residential, radiating out from the center of the town surrounding the Clay County Courthouse downtown. The commercial and retail heart of Henrietta is in this area and along nearby Omega Street, the city’s main street. The 1890 Jail Museum and Heritage Center is a block from the Courthouse.

The largest city in Clay County, Henrietta is an affordable Wichita Falls bedroom community. Rents here are the lowest in North Texas, with a one-bedroom apartment leasing for only $619 monthly on average.

4. Bay City

bay city tx

  • Average one-bedroom rent price: $611
  • Rent change in the past year: 0.28%

At the intersection of Texas routes 60 and 35, Bay City is an important stop between Houston and Corpus Christi. Just a half-hour south of town lies the Matagorda Bay along the Gulf of Mexico, the city’s namesake body of water. The Colorado River of Texas, the longest within the state, runs from west of Bay City to the Gulf.

In the heart of oil country, Bay City is home to a multi-billion dollar seamless-pipe mill manufacturing parts for the drilling industry. The city of nearly 18,000 features two museums, a regional airport and a popular downtown. Bay City’s downtown revitalization project has helped open a bevy of western shops, quaint stores, restaurants, cafés and apartment houses, particularly around the County Courthouse Square.

It won’t take you much to roll into Bay City to live. The lease price for a one-bedroom runs a sparse $611 a month on average.

3. Moulton

moulton tx

Source: Rent.com / Lancaster Living Apartments
  • Average one-bedroom rent price: $599
  • Rent change in the past year: 0.00%

Texas is full of massive metropolises, large suburbs, mid-sized plains cities and small isolated towns. Moulton is most certainly the last. The town of fewer than 900 residents lies 90 minutes from both San Antonio and Austin and about two hours from Houston in Lavaca County.

Nearly all of Moulton is residential land of single-family homes. However, a number of small businesses lie off of Lavaca Drive on the east side of town. Several restaurants and cafés radiate from the intersection of Main Street and West Moore Avenue.

Not many live in the town of fewer than 400 households, but those who rent, do so on the cheap. The average rent for a one-bedroom unit is just a buck less than $600.

2. Wolfforth

wolfforth tx

Source: Rent.com / The Residence at Wolfforth
  • Average one-bedroom rent price: $573
  • Rent change in the past year: 0.00%

With a population of just more than 3,600, Wolfforth is small, but it’s the cheapest place to live in the South Plains. The largest suburb of Lubbock, Wolfforth lies just a convenient 15 minutes from Texas Tech University.

Much of the small town’s commerce lies around its three interchanges with the U.S. Route 63/82 freeway. A number of big box stores, restaurant chains and an athletic park line the highway. A new housing development is under construction just off the northernmost exit.

Wolfforth’s convenience into Lubbock and TTU makes it a perfect, affordable rental spot for Red Raider students and staff alike. The rental price for a one-bedroom apartment in Wolfforth lists for just $573 a month on average.

1. Greenville

greenville tx

  • Average one-bedroom rent price: $543
  • Rent change in the past year: 4.14%

Several of the most expensive cities in Texas to live fall within the greater Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. But bucking the trend is Greenville, the largest city in suburban Hunt County. Just an hour northeast of downtown Dallas, Greenville is a commuter’s paradise. It’s a cheap place to rent, while still a convenient distance both to work and entertainment, but removed from the bustle of both Big D and crowded North Texas mega-suburbs like Plano and Irving.

But Greenville is not just some sleepy suburb either. The bedroom community contains a major defense contractor complex, a 50-arrival-per-day general aviation airport, a downtown winery, a vintage theater and a large waterpark. And formerly known as the “Cotton Capital of the World,” it also features the Audie Murphy American Cotton Museum.

Greenville offers convenience to the best of big city life while maintaining its small-town feel. But it’s also the cheapest place to live in Texas and the second cheapest in the nation. Despite a rise of more than 4percent in the last year, the average rent for a one-bedroom is a steal at just $543 a month.

The 25 cheapest places to live in Texas

The 25 cheapest places to live in Texas spread out all around the state, from the High Plains to the Piney Woods to Big Bend. The good news is more than 20 cities in Texas have average one-bedroom rents of less than $800.

Methodology

Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and Rent.com’s multifamily rental property inventory of one-bedroom apartments. We pulled our data in December 2020, and it goes back for one year. Our team uses a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each individual unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.

We excluded cities with insufficient inventory from this report.

The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.

Source: rent.com

5 Crucial Questions To Ask Before You Renew Your Rental Lease Right Now

Is your lease almost up? Before you renew your rental contract for another year, there are numerous questions you should consider, particularly in the era of COVID-19.

While signing a new lease should never be done without pondering your current circumstances, the coronavirus pandemic has made it all the more crucial to weigh your options first. After all, COVID-19 may have changed many things about how you live and work—and how well your current space and location suit your needs.

So before you sign on that dotted line of a new lease, consider these questions first to make sure it’s the right decision for you.

1. Can I still afford this rental?

The first and most important question to ask relates to your current financial situation. Are you fearing a layoff or pay cut? Or worse, have you already experienced it? If so, it may be time to consider downsizing to a less expensive rental, or negotiate with your current landlord for a rent reduction. You might be surprised by how accommodating your landlord is right now.

“Landlords are in serious competition for quality renters now,” says Justin Pogue, a residential property manager for nearly 20 years. “With millions unemployed, the pool of qualified renters has shrunk, which may give you the ability to negotiate.”

If you like your apartment but can’t afford it anymore, take a price survey of other apartment communities that meet your livability criteria before your lease is up, says Pogue. “If you find a better deal, ask your landlord to match it.”

Just make sure you’ve done your research first.

“Tenants should only renegotiate their rates after finding another comparable, but cheaper unit,” says Berk Cagatay, an apartment rental manager in Los Angeles. “It’s a good strategy for the renters who want to lock in a low rate before the economy picks back up.”

And if your landlord won’t budge, you may just want to move to less expensive digs.

2. Should I look for a roommate?

If you’re dogged by financial concerns, one of the easiest ways to control monthly expenses is by splitting them. Unless there’s a significant other in the picture, you may want to consider finding a trustworthy roommate or two. They can help you make ends meet, and provide some company in these isolating times.

“You may have dismissed the possibility before, but after living in the solitary confinement of lockdown, having the right roommate just might be more appealing now,” points out Pogue.

Just make sure to clear such a change in your living arrangements with your landlord so this can be reflected in your new lease.

3. Should I negotiate for lower rent where I am, even if I can afford it?

Even if your finances aren’t in jeopardy, negotiating for lower rent is still a smart option if you feel there are better deals to be had out there—or if you’re no longer able to use many of the amenities you once enjoyed, like the building gym or community swimming pool.

“Reach out, and ask for what you want. The worst they can say is no. And in that case, you’re no worse off than when you started,” says Seth Rouch, a landlord in Aurora, CO. In fact, he’d just offered one tenant a monthly discount of $300, totaling $3,600 for the year.

“I did this because they are great tenants,” he explains. “Landlords often confuse themselves, thinking their building is the asset. However, the truth is the tenant is the asset. Without a tenant, I just have an extra house payment.”

4. Does my rental still meet my space needs?

Though cities across the U.S. have slowly opened up, many people are still cooped up at home, either working virtually or home-schooling children. With that in mind, rental units have transformed from places to eat, sleep, and relax to doubling as offices, classrooms, and entertainment areas.

“One of the first questions I would ask is, ‘If I’m working or home-schooling kids from home now, does this rental meet those needs and space requirements?'” says Rob Carrillo, a property manager with Century 21 Haggerty in El Paso, TX.

It’s also worth pondering whether your apartment is conducive to being in quarantine. By that, think about your comfort level inside the space itself for long periods of time and in the surrounding neighborhood.

“Are you in an area where you want to live if you encounter a serious health issue or other crisis?” asks Chris Gold, CEO of Chris Buys Homes in St. Louis. “This virus may stick around for a while, and people should plan for it. Maybe you’d like to be closer to family or emergency services? Or maybe you’d like to get out of the city to live in a place where you are not directly in contact with people on a regular basis?”

5. Should I buy a home instead of renting?

There are numerous reasons why someone may choose to rent instead of buy. However, with interest rates hovering at all-time lows, renters may be surprised to find out they can often save money in the long run if they buy instead of rent.

“I understand down payments may be difficult for some people to come up with,” says Mike Zschunke, a real estate agent in Arizona. “However, it doesn’t hurt to call a mortgage broker to review your current situation. You may realize your situation is different than you initially thought.”

“Always evaluate the opportunity cost of renting versus buying,” adds Michael Chadwick, a licensed real estate salesperson with the Corcoran Group in New York City. “If you are at least four to six months from when your lease expires, and you have the means to buy, consider if you want to continue to dump thousands of dollars into rent when you could be investing in yourself. Despite every crisis in the past 30 or 40 years, home prices on average always rise. You have to play the long game.”

Not sure whether renting or buying is right for you? Use an online rent vs. buy calculator to see what’s cheaper in your area, or check out a home affordability calculator, which helps estimate how much you can afford to spend on a home and monthly mortgage payments.

Source: realtor.com

Where Rent Has Become More Affordable – 2020 Edition

Where Rent Has Become More Affordable – 2020 Edition – SmartAsset

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Affordability issues generally affect renters more than homeowners. More than 40% of renters pay more than a third of their household income on rent compared to just 24% of homeowners on their mortgage, according to a February 2020 survey by Freddie Mac. But depending on where they live, renters can lower the burden of their housing costs. That’s why SmartAsset crunched the numbers to identify cities in the U.S. where rent has decreased the most relative to income.

Specifically, we compared rent prices from 2016 and 2019 to median household incomes over the same period. We additionally examined how rent prices have changed during 2020, amid the COVID-19 crisis. For details on our data sources and how we put all the information together to create our final rankings, check out the Data and Methodology section below.

This is SmartAsset’s second annual study on changes in rent affordability. Check out the 2019 version here.

Key Findings

  • Boston moves into the top spot. Last year, Boston, Massachusetts ranked third in our list of cities where rent is becoming more affordable. This year, it moved up to first, outranking both San Francisco and Oakland, California. Between 2016 and 2019, rent as a percentage of income fell by almost 8%.
  • Coastal cities dominate the top of our list. The top 11 cities where rent has become more affordable are located on a coast. They consist of five on the West Coast (San Francisco, Los Angeles and Oakland, California as well as Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington), four on the East Coast (Boston, Massachusetts; Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Maryland and New York, New York), one on the Gulf Coast (New Orleans, Louisiana) and one on the coast of Lake Michigan (Chicago, Illinois). Across those 11 cities, average fair market rent rose by an average of less than 2% between 2016 and 2019, while median household income rose by more than 19% on average.

Top Five Cities Where Rent Has Become More Affordable (2016 – 2019)

1. Boston, MA

Households in Boston, Massachusetts are allocating smaller portions of their paychecks to rent. Though average market rent did not fall over the course of the past three years, incomes rose significantly, causing the average percentage of household income spent on rent to decrease. In 2016, the average fair market rent was $2,949, and median household income was $63,621. In 2019, rent was $3,140, and median income was $79,018. In percentage terms, rent rose by just under 7%, while incomes rose by more than 24% on average.

2. San Francisco, CA

Though rent in San Francisco, California is high relative to many other cities, data from Rent Jungle shows that it has remained flat over the past few years. The average fair market rent was $3,855 in 2016 and $3,823 in 2019. Incomes, by contrast, are on the rise. Between 2016 and 2019, the median household income in San Francisco rose by more than 19%, from about $103,800 to almost $123,900. As result, households are spending, on average, 7.53% less on rent in 2019 than they were in 2016.

3. Los Angeles, CA (Tie)

In Los Angeles, California, the average market rent increased by about $200 between 2016 and 2019, while the median household income increased by almost $13,000. With those changes, households are spending about 7% less of their income on rent.

Notably, despite increasing rent affordability, Los Angeles residents are still spending a lot on rent. In 2019, rent as a percentage of income was 49.75%, the second-highest in our study, behind only that of New York City.

3. Washington, DC (Tie)

The nation’s capital ties with Los Angeles for the No. 3 city where rent has become more affordable. Using Rent Jungle and Census Bureau data, we found that the average household spent about 37% of its gross income on rent in 2016, relative to only 30% in 2019. This large change was caused by primarily by increasing incomes in the city. Between 2016 and 2019, the median household income of residents rose by more than 22%, from roughly $75,500 to almost $92,300.

5. Baltimore, MD

Incomes in Baltimore, Maryland are the lowest of any city in our top five. In 2019, the median household income of Baltimore residents was about $50,200. Between 2016 and 2019, average market rent in the city fell by about $200, while the median household income rose by more than $2,800. With those changes, rent as a percentage of income decreased from almost 43% in 2016 to roughly 36% in 2019.

How the Rental Market Has Changed During COVID-19 (January – September 2020)

We looked at rent affordability through 2019 in the above section because 2020 median household income figures are not yet available. However, we can still see changes in the rental market and subsequent prices for 2020, through the third quarter of the year. Generally, housing markets for renters have been more deeply affected than markets for homeowners during the pandemic. While some families have left big cities to buy more spacious homes in the suburbs, Zillow’s 2020 Urban-Suburban Market Report research shows that suburban housing markets have not strengthened at rates disproportionate to urban ones. The same is not true, however, for rental markets. Zillow found that though rental prices have generally dropped in both urban and suburban areas during the COVID-19 pandemic, the decline has been larger in urban ZIP codes.

This decline has been particularly significant in some of the largest and most populated urban areas. Rent Jungle data shows that average rent prices fell by more than 5% from January to September 2020 in six cities – San Francisco, California; Detroit, Michigan; Boston, Massachusetts; San Jose, California; New York, New York and Austin, Texas – all of which have populations exceeding 670,000. Of those, San Francisco leads for its drop in average fair market rent. Rent Jungle data shows that the average fair market rent in the city fell by almost 17%, from almost $3,800 in January 2020 to about $3,100 in September 2020. Following San Francisco, the biggest gross change in rent occurred in Boston. In January 2020, Rent Jungle reported an average fair market rent of almost $3,200 relative to less than $2,900 in September 2020.

Data and Methodology

To complete our analyses for both sections of this report, we looked at data for 50 of the largest U.S. cities. Specifically, we compared:

  • 2016 rent as a percentage of household income. This is average annual rent divided by median household income. Data comes from rentjungle.com and the Census Bureau’s 1-year American Community Survey.
  • 2019 rent as a percentage of household income. This is average annual rent divided by median household income. Data comes from rentjungle.com and the Census Bureau’s 1-year American Community Survey.

To create the final rankings of cities where rent has become more affordable, we subtracted the 2016 rent as a percentage of household income from the 2019 rent as a percentage of household income. The cities with the largest negative difference – i.e. where relative cost decreased the most – ranked as our top cities where rent is becoming more affordable.

When looking at the rent market in 2020, we compared Rent Jungle data on the average market rent in January 2020 to the average in September 2020. We found the percentage change over that eight-month time period for all 50 of the cities we looked at.

Financial Tips for Renters

  • Invest  your savings early. If you’re living in a city where you’ve experienced robust income growth and minute upticks in your rental costs, you might consider putting those savings to work in a retirement account. After all, achieving a secure retirement requires early preparation. By planning and saving early you can take advantage of compound interest. Take a look at our investment calculator to see how your investment can grow over time.
  • Rent or buy? Understand whether continuing to rent is the right choice for you using SmartAsset’s rent vs. buy calculator. No matter what your homeownership status, it might be useful to learn about the ways that the recent Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Stablility (CARES) Act passed by the government protects homeowners and renters.
  • Consulting an expert could save you time and money in the long run. If you are looking for guidance on how to put your rental savings to good use, it might be helpful to speak with an expert advisor. Finding the right financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in five minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

Questions about our study? Contact us at press@smartasset.com.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/fizkes

Stephanie Horan, CEPF® Stephanie Horan is a data journalist at SmartAsset. A Certified Educator of Personal Finance (CEPF®), she sources and analyzes data to write studies relating to a variety of topics including mortgage, retirement and budgeting. Before coming to SmartAsset, she worked as an analyst at an asset management firm. Stephanie graduated from Williams College with a degree in Mathematics. Originally from Philadelphia, she has always been a Yankees fan and currently lives in New York.
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