The Most Affordable Cities for Apartment Renters in 2019

There are many reasons why people decide to rent an apartment rather than buy a home, and the most common one is that they can’t afford a down payment. This means that the vast majority of renters are on a relatively tight budget. Nevertheless, renters in the U.S. housing market face vastly different rental rates depending on their location.

While a Saginaw, MI tenant can expect to pay a median rent of $570 per month for an apartment, a Key West, FL renter can expect to pay as much as $4,470 per month.

To help tenants know how much they will be expected to pay for their next apartment in some of the major U.S. cities in 2019, we have put together a list of the most affordable locations for renting.

35 Locations with the Lowest Rental Rates in the United States

If you are renting in one of the following cities, you are in luck. Why? Because these are the most affordable major markets for renters in the U.S. in the summer of 2019. In specific, we have pulled out the locations with a median monthly rent for an apartment below $1,000. The median rental rates have been calculated by Mashvisor, a real estate data analytics company.

Most Affordable U.S. Cities for Renting an Apartment in 2019

CityMedian Monthly RentPrice to Rent RatioWalk Score
1Saginaw, MI$5703540
2Lafayette, IN$6402835
3Wichita, KS$7101835
4Tuscaloosa, AL$7202433
5Shreveport, AL$7301432
6Biloxi, MS$7302731
7Peoria, IL$7501829
8Eagle Pass, TX$7701242
9Green Bay, WI$8002741
10Appleton, WI$8202240
11Johnson City, TN$8301626
12Oshkosh, WI$8301641
13Sioux Falls, SD$8702037
14Tulsa, OK$8802040
15Tallahassee, FL$8801832
16West Lafayette, IN$8801650
17Spokane, WA$8802448
18Akron, OH$8902145
19Spartanburg, SC$9001575
20Meza, AZ$9101537
21Kalamazoo, MI$9102546
22Fargo, ND$9201144
23El Paso, TX$9201041
24Fresno, CA$9302246
25Morgantown, WV$9401354
26Eugene, OR$9401745
27Little Rock, AR$9401732
28Lexington, KY$9402234
29Ames, IA$9602040
30Gainesville, FL$9601234
31Muncie, IN$9701036
32Bakersfield, CA$9801537
33Iowa City, IA$9803043
34Greenville, NC$990833
35Portsmouth, VA$9901537

Data Source: Mashvisor, July 2019

Characteristics of the Most Affordable Cities for Renting

Generally speaking, the most affordable places for renters are spread across the entire U.S. real estate market. Nevertheless, there is a definite concentration of low-rent cities in the states of Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Iowa. At the same time though, tenants can find an apartment to rent for under $1,000 a month in such generally expensive states as Florida and California.

Although most Americans are forced to rent because they don’t have the means to buy a home, for some renting is a conscious decision because it makes more financial sense than owning a house. If you live in one of the cities listed in the table above and have to decide whether to rent an apartment or buy a home, the price to rent ratio in the local housing market will help you make up your mind.

The price to rent ratio, calculated by Mashvisor, is a basic real estate concept which measures the ratio between the average property price and the average annual rent in a particular market. If the price to rent ratio is low (below 15), this means that buying is relatively cheaper than renting, so it is smarter to own a home. If, on the other hand, the price to rent ratio is moderate (16-20) or high (21 and above), rents are cheaper than property prices, so the better move is to rent an apartment.

As the data above reveals, the majority of the real estate markets with lowest rents are moderate or high price to rent ratio markets. Consequently, if you’ve decided to rent there and not buy a home, you have made the right decision. The only exceptions are Greenville, NC; Muncie, IN; El Paso, TX; Fargo, ND; Gainesville, FL; Eagle Pass, TX; Morgantown, WV; Shreveport, AL; Portsmouth, VA; Bakersfield, CA; Meza, AZ; and Spartanburg, SC.

The table above also shows the Walk Score of these most affordable cities for renters. Most of these locations are not very walkable, have relatively poor public transportation infrastructure, and are car-dependent. Johnson City, TN faces the lowest Walk Score of all, while Spartanburg, SC is the most walkable location in the list of the cheapest cities for renters.

If you live in one of those 35 cities or are about to move there soon, you will be happy to know that these are the most affordable cities for apartment renters in the U.S. real estate market at the moment. Now you know exactly how much to expect to buying a property in any of these markets, you can rely on the provided price to rent ratios as a trustworthy indicator for which of the two options makes more financial sense.