It's no secret that Connecticut is a pricey place to live. This is particularly true for daily Manhattan commuters in Fairfield County paying high rents to live near the City. The “new normal" will allow several permanently remote workers to move further away from New York to other Connecticut cities or smaller towns in the Nutmeg State for a quieter life away from the bustle.
Still, others may want a spot closer to New York City, trying to take advantage of cheaper rents in certain pockets, not tied to jobs around places like New Britain or Norwich anymore. For its diminutive size, Connecticut has a diversity of both metropolitan and rural options.
So, for those looking to move to or within Connecticut, where can the most affordable rental cities be found? What are the cheapest places to live in Connecticut for renters?
Connecticut state average rent prices
First, let's assess what rent prices look like in Connecticut. As stated previously, the Nutmeg State is not a cheap place to rent in general.
The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment across the state is $1,831. That's pricey for a lot of renters. In fact, of the top ten cheapest cities in Connecticut in which to rent, only seven of them fall below that figure. And recently, it's only gotten pricier. That number is up nearly twelve and a half percent from a year ago.
The cheapest cities in Connecticut for renters
As demonstrated, there are many reasons why Connecticuters are looking for cheaper places to live, or assessing the price of where they currently reside. Among all the cities and towns in the Constitution State, what are the most affordable for renters?
Below are the 10 cheapest places to live in Connecticut. Three of the top 10 are in New York-adjacent Fairfield County. Four lie in the state's Capital Region. And one is very much (playfully?) disliked by a certain late-night show host.
- Average 1-BR rent price: $2,138
- Average rent change in the past year: 2.5 percent
Looking for reasonable rents in Connecticut but with a reasonable commute to New York? Look no further than Norwalk. It's just 35 miles from New York. And a one-bedroom apartment leases for $2,128 a month on average. All told, it's the cheapest city in the Connecticut Panhandle for renters.
For the price, Norwalk is sufficiently commutable. A train ride on the MTA's Metro-North Railroad to Grand Central Terminal is just 90 minutes long. As well, the commute time for drivers comes in at about 75 minutes.
The north end of the city is by the Merritt Parkway, and the Connecticut Turnpike and US Route 1 roll through the south. The latter two, intersected by the Route 7 expressway, runs alongside downtown Main Street to the seaport and harbor district.
You don't even need to travel into Manhattan to find big business. Pepperidge Farm operates on the pricey east end of the city and Xerox headquarters lies at the northern tip.
- Average 1-BR rent price: $1,944
- Average rent change in the past year: -1.7 percent
Just about on the other side of the Housatonic River from the state's largest city is the suburb of Milford. The city offers ten miles of beaches along its Long Island Sound shoreline, more than any town in Connecticut.
Five of the beaches are city beaches, including Walnut Beach, Gulf Beach and Silver Sands. And just offshore is 14-acre Charles Island, rumored home to Captain Kidd's buried treasure.
Milford also lies along eight miles of shoreline on the Housatonic, but its downtown actually sits where Milford Harbor meets the Lagoons. The city's trendy downtown offers some seaside restaurants, bakeries and beer bars along New Haven Avenue and its adjacent streets. And splitting two-lane Broad Street downtown is Milford Green, the second-longest park in New England.
Downtown also features several rentals for both residents and summer beachgoers, priced right for the season and all year long. An average one-bedroom apartment throughout Milford rents for just under $2,000 a month.
- Average 1-BR rent price: $1,884
- Average rent change in the past year: N/A
If you can't get into Yale, have you tried Oxford? No, not the famous university in England, but the New Haven County town a half-hour away named for it. Oxford — the Connecticut one — has nearly 14,000 residents, but the woodsy town's population spreads sparsely across three primary settlements.
Oxford Center offers a handful of businesses and Oxford's only shopping center. Riverside sits along the Housatonic River and offers quaint waterside neighborhoods of single-family homes. And Quaker Farms is a lightly populated suburban center where you will find most of the town's apartments.
The remainder of the town is immense forests and parkland. This includes parts of Kettletown State Park in the southwest and Naugatuck State Forest in the northeast.
At the north end of town sits the Waterbury-Oxford Airport, a popular corporate airport, home to dozens of large corporate business jets and a short helicopter ride away from Midtown Manhattan.
For this version of Connecticut rustic living, renters will only be shelling out $1,884 a month for an average one-bedroom apartment.
- Average 1-BR rent price: $1,764
- Average rent change in the past year: 3.0 percent
HBO late-night host John Oliver really, really hates Danbury, Connecticut. But truthfully, it's just a joke. Or is it? The comedian has heckled the city several times on “Last Week Tonight." But Oliver and the city put its epithet-riddled rivalry aside in 2020 when Danbury renamed its water treatment facility “The John Oliver Memorial Sewer Plant."
Fortunately, Danbury has much more to offer than waste treatment. The Housatonic Valley town lies just 60 miles north of Manhattan, making it a popular New York bedroom community. New York is just two hours away by rail, with Danbury acting as the terminus of the MTA Metro-North Railroad line. Commuters can also drive into New York in 90 minutes.
The bulk of commercial and business in Danbury lies along the I-84 corridor. This includes the large Danbury Fair mall at the junction with US Route 7, adjacent to the Danbury Airport. A bit east is Danbury's downtown, which sits in the bowl of the city's large railyard and runs out to Western Connecticut State University.
The border of New York State forms the western edge of Danbury, with easy access to the Hudson Valley and the Catskills. Despite the convenience, rents are low. A one-bedroom apartment rents for $1,764 on average monthly.
- Average 1-BR rent price: $1,470
- Average rent change in the past year: 16.8 percent
There are 30 cities in the U.S. named Manchester. Of them all, only one is more populous than the one in Connecticut. A city of nearly 60,000 (the one in New Hampshire is twice the size), Manchester sits just to the east of East Hartford.
Just to the west of Manchester, I-384 splits off from I-84. The two interstates diverge as they enter Manchester, forming byways along the north and south sides of the town.
Most commercial business is along freeway exits. The Shoppes at Buckland Hills is a major mall along I-84, surrounded by some apartment complexes, shopping centers and big-box stores.
Off 394, the East Side and West Side neighborhoods offer a variety of cultural sites and numerous shops, restaurants and another pocket of apartment buildings along Main Street.
With a convenient drive into Hartford but green space enough to feel separated, Manchester is a desirable town. The Capital Region suburb is also affordable. An average one-bedroom apartment leases for just a monthly rate of $1,470.
- Average 1-BR rent price: $1,459
- Average rent change in the past year: 4.0 percent
Quick, name Connecticut's largest city. If you are not a native Nutmegger, you may not realize the answer is the coastal city of Bridgeport, not Hartford.
The city of nearly 150,000 lies on the Long Island Sound halfway between Stamford and New Haven. And with a train commute of around two hours, it's considered the northernmost Connecticut city a reasonable commuting distance into Manhattan.
That's good news for city commuters willing to spend a few hours on the train each day. With a one-bedroom apartment renting for an average of $1,469 a month, it's the cheapest place to live in Southwestern Connecticut for renters.
The city itself presents as an amalgam of mid-sized cities and dense suburbs. It features a busy waterfront along Bridgeport Harbor. The University of Bridgeport sits right on the water surrounded by many coastal parks and beaches, marinas and industrial sites.
Nearby is the city's bustling downtown. The area features several bars and restaurants, museums, high-rise apartment buildings and the brand new Hartford HealthCare Amphitheater.
- Average 1-BR rent price: $1,421
- Average rent change in the past year: 4.1 percent
If New Haven is a city known for its Ivy, Hamden — its neighbor to the north — is a city of trees and parks. It's a city with an obvious metropolitan grade. The southern end of the city adjacent to New Haven is highly urbanized. But as you travel northward, the city gradually becomes tree-filled, rural and mountainous.
The southern footprint of Hamden is densely populated with tracts of suburban sprawl, single-family homes, and apartment complexes penned in by West Rock Ridge. From there, the northern half slowly ruralizes with forests and larger lots, Sleeping Giant State Park, the Mount Carmel neighborhood and the pristine campus of Quinnipiac University.
The city of 60,000 features two major museums. The Eli Whitney Museum is a learning center built on the site of the famed inventor's musket factory. As well, Ireland's Great Hunger Museum is a tribute and collection relating to the devastating Irish famine.
With all that, Hamden is still the cheapest place to live in South Central Connecticut for renters. The average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment runs just $1,421.
- Average 1-BR rent price: $1,400
- Average rent change in the past year: -1.3 percent
Thirty years ago, Hartford was the largest city in Connecticut. But over the years, a slow population decline and an increase in population along the coast changed that.
Today, the state capital is Connecticut's fourth-largest city. Yet it's still most important. The good news is that the population decline has helped keep rent prices down. At $1,400 a month for an average one-bedroom, Hartford is the cheapest big city to live in Connecticut for renters.
It may no longer be the largest city, but the former home of the NHL's Whalers is certainly the most urban and most global. Hartford is known as the “Insurance Capital of the World," home to operations of healthcare companies like Aetna, The Phoenix Companies, Prudential, Travelers, United Healthcare and, of course, The Hartford.
But like any good major city, Hartford is also known for its distinctive cuisine and restaurant scene. As one of the nation's oldest cities, English and Dutch cooking heavily influenced the region. Additionally, interwar immigration brought a large Polish population and with it its cuisine. And its relative proximity to the ocean gave rise to quality seafood fare.
Today, it's a top foodie destination, with both food trucks and farmers' markets of particular popularity.
- Average 1-BR rent price: $1,229
- Average rent change in the past year: 7.1 percent
The community of East Hartford lies, predictably, East of Hartford. The region consists of the Capital Region city land east of the Connecticut River. The complementary city is about two and a half times smaller than its neighbor across the river. But rents in East Hartford run $170 lower. A one-bedroom apartment leases for $1,230 a month on average.
While Hartford is a state government town, East Hartford is an industrial town. More specifically, one industry. The city is the world headquarters of Pratt & Whitney, a large multinational aerospace manufacturer. The company's massive 1,100-acre campus takes up a large percentage of the city's land area. And it employs 9,000 workers.
That doesn't mean East Hartfordites don't kick back and have fun. The city is home to 40,000 seat Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field. The stadium is home to the University of Connecticut football team and has hosted the US men's national soccer team and the NCAA lacrosse championships multiple times.
- Average 1BR rent price: $1,010
- Average rent change in the past year: N/A
It's not anywhere near New York City. It's not in the Capital Region. The cheapest place to live in all of Connecticut for renters is the small riverside town of Willimantic in the eastern part of the state.
Willimantic is a quaint, placid small college community in the Windham region. And for that woodsy Quiet Corner lifestyle, rent for an average one-bedroom runs just $1,010 a month. That's over $200 less than anywhere else in the state.
Rustic Willimantic is a former textile hub, known as “Thread City" for the mills along the Willimantic River. Two museums, Windham Textile and History Museum and Connecticut Eastern Railroad Museum, preserve the history of the two industries that defined Willimantic. As well, the town is home to the 4,400 students at Eastern Connecticut State University and its stunning campus.
Willimantic lies about 45 minutes east of Hartford and a little over an hour west of Providence. The town of 18,000 offers several unique cultural sites and events.
The most famous is the annual Boombox Parade. Every Independence Day, residents march the streets with boom boxes tuned to a local radio station broadcasting marching band music. It's the largest parade of its type in the world.
Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and Rent.com's multifamily rental property inventory as of June 2021. Our team uses a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each 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.