These days, the American Dream looks a lot different than it used to. For many, it no longer includes homeownership. In fact, more Americans rent their homes today than they have in the past 50 years, according to Pew Research. Young adults under the age of 35 are most likely to be renters.
And though many people choose to rent rather than buy their homes for financial reasons, the housing markets in many cities are still quite expensive. So when choosing where to live, it helps to know where you can find affordable apartments.
A new study by Apartment Guide examined rental markets across the U.S. and ranked the top 50 cheapest cities for studios, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments. Here’s a look at where they are.
Where Are The Cheapest Cities For Renters?
Apartment Guide analyzed its database of multifamily listings to find apartments in every U.S. city in America for which there was available inventory. They then calculated the price per square foot for studios, one-bedrooms and two-bedrooms by dividing the average size of apartments in each city by that city’s average rental rate.
Using that data, they ranked the 50 least expensive cities in the nation (cities with fewer than 20 units in their available inventory were excluded).
As expected, the cheapest cities to rent aren’t exactly sprawling metropolises. But they aren’t all obscure, small towns. The five cheapest cities for studios, for example, include College Station, Texas; Ferrelview, Missouri; Fargo, North Dakota; Tucson, Arizona; and Sun Prairie, Wisconsin and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, which tied for fifth place. Ferrelview and Sun Prairie may not be on the average person’s radar, but places like Fargo and Tucson certainly are.
Interestingly, the cheapest cities change when you look at larger dwellings. For one-bedrooms, the five cheapest cities are Niles, Ohio; Wichita Falls, Texas; Evansville, Indiana; Columbus, Georgia, and Ferrelview (tie); and Elkhart, Indiana.
For two-bedrooms, the top five are Morganfield, Kentucky; Fort Smith, Arkansas; Gulfport, Mississippi; Wichita Falls; and Stillwater, Oklahoma.
“There really are places in the country where you can still find affordable places to live, even in some larger cities,” said Brian Carberry, Apartment Guide’s managing editor. That’s especially true in the middle of the country. The study showed that there are many affordable cities in Texas, as well as many Midwestern and Plains states.
Several college towns also popped up among the most affordable cities for renters, including College Station, Fargo, Tucson and Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Overall, Carberry said that the trends in the data made sense. “The states and cities and states that you hear about being more affordable tended to be that way in terms of price per square foot.”
Even so, some larger, more desirable cities that you’d assume are on the pricier side made their way into the top 50, such as Las Vegas, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Austin. “Your best bang for your buck, looking at apartment level size, is studios for these larger cities that are more expensive,” Carberry said. And as you might have guessed, the big players like Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York City didn’t come close.
In many places throughout the country, the housing and rental markets are only getting more expensive and harder for people to live, Carberry said. “But if you’re willing to be a little bit flexible, you really can live where you want.”
Check out the full list of affordable cities below, and visit Apartment Guide for more information about the rankings and cities that stood out.