Michigan has caught a bad rap with all the water crises and gradual auto industry collapse. But the Great Lakes State still has plenty to offer. Explore the cheapest places to live in Michigan and see how these rent prices stack up against the rest of the country.
Michigan average rent prices
The great news is that the cost of housing in Michigan comes in far below the national average. Things look poised to change though — rent prices are up 22 percent since last year, with the average one-bedroom apartment coming in at $1,315 per month. So, maybe sign a rental agreement sooner rather than later?
The cheapest cities in Michigan for renters
Cities all over Michigan are affordable for renters. Sure, a cheap rental is not right on the banks of one of the Great Lakes, or whatever, but it's still possible to find a great unit! Let's dive right into this list of the cheapest places to live in Michigan for renters.
Photo source: Livonia Community / Facebook
- Average 1-BR rent price: $1,056
- Average rent change in the past year: n/a
This Detroit suburb is in southeast Michigan and has a population of just under 95,000, making it the 9th largest community in Michigan. Currently, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Livonia is $1,056.
Livonia has a lot going on — there are major employers like Ford Motor Company, Amazon and Trinity Health providing lots of jobs for area workers. In all, more than 4,000 businesses are in the area, among them several corporate headquarters.
The city also boasts more than 1,300 acres of nature preserves and public parks, behind only Detroit in the entire state. One particular gem is Greenmead Historical Park, which features a working farm and a number of historically significant buildings. The park also hosts lots of great outdoor events and has a full spate of recreational facilities.
For entertainment, Livonia is home to a ton of great breweries, restaurants and shopping (especially antiques and flea markets). Soccer enthusiasts may also choose to join the Livonia City Soccer Club, which has more than 1,300 players currently.
9. Royal Oak
- Average 1-BR rent price: $1,029
- Average rent change in the past year: 6.95 percent
Rent is creeping up in the Michigan city of Royal Oak, with a one-bedroom apartment running 6.95 percent more than this time last year. Currently, such a unit will set you back $1,029 per month. Just north of Detroit, Royal Oak is ideal for people who need to work in the city, but who want a quieter way of life in their downtime.
The most popular spot in Royal Oak is undoubtedly its ultra-walkable downtown area. Here you will find many lofts and high-rises available for rent. In addition to an almost overwhelming array of dining options (more than 45), Downtown Royal Oak has entertainment galore with the Royal Oak Music Theatre, Emagine Theater and Mark Ridley's Comedy Castle.
The city also puts on a popular farmer's market stocked with fresh produce from local farms. It's also not unusual for a community art fair or another special event to liven up the streets of Downtown Royal Oak on the regular.
- Average 1-BR rent price: $1,018
- Average rent change in the past year: 11.67 percent
The last city on our list of the cheapest places to live in Michigan that breaks the $1,000 threshold, Kalamazoo is about as fun to live in as it is to say. Smack in between Chicago and Detroit, Kalamazoo County is in Western Michigan. The word is out about this eclectic area, however, so rent is up 11.67 percent since last year for a one-bedroom apartment. The average rent for such a unit is about $1,018.
Kalamazoo has a lot of great things going for it. Notably, the water and water reclamation systems are award-winning (a big deal compared to some other areas of Michigan). There are also many parks, golf courses and lakes to enjoy during the delightfully mild summertime months.
An ideal place to work, Kalamazoo offers positions in a wide array of industries to choose from such as craft beer, pharmaceutical and medical science, among others.
The only problem with Kalamazoo is figuring out what to do first. Take in a concert or show at the Kalamazoo State Theatre downtown. Or, take in nine or so innings of Kalamazoo Growlers Baseball (summer collegiate league) at Homer Stryker Field. If the sport of curling is more your game, join the Kalamazoo Curling Club!
- Average 1-BR rent price: $990
- Average rent change in the past year: n/a
The smallest city so far on our list is Greenville. A small city of under 10,000 people in west-central Michigan (about 25 miles inland from Lake Michigan), this city checks in at under $1,000 per month! A one-bedroom averages about $990.
Greenville is known for its access to outdoor opportunities. A scant seven miles northwest of Greenville is the Woodbeck chain of lakes, where visitors can swim, boat and fish to their heart's content. The swimming beach at Baldwin Lake is another popular spot during the summer months. Then there's the Edwards Creek Mountain Bike Trail, which is sure to challenge even seasoned cyclists.
Greenville's quaint downtown area is another hotspot for local shopping and dining. With over 70 retailers and other businesses, it's just big enough to get the job done without being overwhelming. It's also picturesque enough for any movie — Greenville takes great pride in its adorable, newly renovated streetscape!
Photo source: Wixom, MI – Government / Facebook
- Average 1-BR rent price: $965
- Average rent change in the past year: 7.97 percent
About 20 minutes northwest of Detroit, the city of Wixom is teeny-tiny compared to Motor City. At under 15,000 residents, Wixom is far less metropolitan and far more of a tight-knit community — probably why it's coming in hot on our list of the cheapest places to live in Michigan. Currently, a one-bedroom rental averages $965, up 7.97 percent from one year ago.
Indeed, Wixom puts on a slate of events rivaled by any city in the state, such as seasonal festivals, movies in the park and dog-friendly events. The summer concert series is very popular!
There are seven public parks located throughout Wixom, each with amenities ranging from sledding hills to sand volleyball courts. The Wixom Trail System is especially beloved by local runners, skaters and bikers, as is The Wixom Habitat, a 300-acre nature preserve.
Don't forget to stop by downtown to take in an authentic Italian meal at the beloved Volare Ristorante.
- Average 1-BR rent price: $929
- Average rent change in the past year: 30.89 percent
Bad news first. Yes, this is “that" Flint. The one with the five-year-long water crisis that exposed thousands of people to lead and other unsavory things in their drinking water. However, things are under control in the area now, which is why rent has jumped more than 30 percent up to about $929 for an average one-bedroom rental.
Located 60 miles northwest of Detroit, Flint is appropriately located on the banks of the Flint River. The city's population is just under 100,000, making it one of the larger cities in Michigan.
To the surprise of some, Flint is home to a thriving cultural arts community. The Flint Institute of Music includes the Flint Symphony Orchestra, Flint School of Performing Arts and Flint Youth Theatre — this is just one component of the 30-acre Flint Cultural Center. Don't forget to stop by the Longway Planetarium, Sloan Museum and other culturally significant offerings!
Locals also love to hike around the one-of-a-kind attraction that is Stepping Stone Falls, a man-made waterfall area and dam that holds back the Flint River, thus creating Mott Lake, which is fully stocked with fish. There's even an evening riverboat cruise!
- Average 1-BR rent price: $922
- Average rent change in the past year: -18.52 percent
Known by locals simply as “Ypsi," this eastern Michigan city is also mere minutes (seven miles) from the destination town of Ann Arbor. In case you were wondering, you pronounce Ypsilanti like “IP-sill-ANN-tee" — in honor of a Greek hero from the Greek War of Independence.
Currently, people haven't been fighting over rentals in Ypsi, so rent has fallen by 18.52 percent over the last year. The average one-bedroom apartment here costs $922 — making it one of the cheapest places to live in Michigan.
Ypsi is obviously a college town, but the students and other populations are largely separated. There's plenty to do for people of all ages. Stop by Depot Town for classic car events, not to mention a regular farmer's market. Depot Town also hosts a bunch of vintage, novelty and shopping options.
Don't forget to pop by the local apple orchard or strawberry patch. Here you can pick until your heart's content. Afterward, take the kiddos to hit the Michigan Firehouse Museum for an authentic look at past and present firehouse efforts.
Adults can top it off with a stop at any of the local bars and breweries Ypsi is known for. Cheers!
3. East Lansing
Photo source: The City of East Lansing / Facebook
- Average 1-BR rent price: $906
- Average rent change in the past year: 1.17 percent
Expect to see lots of green and white in East Lansing, since the city is home to the Michigan State Spartans and all of the students and school spirit that go along with it. As a result, housing is pretty affordable. The average one-bedroom rental is about $906 per month, up 1.17 percent from last year.
Although MSU is the centerpiece of East Lansing, there's plenty more going on in the area. The city is family-friendly, with attractions such as the Family Aquatic Center, an “interactive outdoor water facility." It even has a 190-foot-long tube water slide!
Then there's the East Lansing Film Festival, which draws people from all over to watch all kinds of movies made around the world. Be sure to explore the hopping downtown area in all its food, shopping and entertainment glory.
- Average 1-BR rent price: $850
- Average rent change in the past year: -25.45 percent
The capital city of Michigan is a steal right now, with rent prices down 25.45 percent from last year. A typical one-bedroom unit rents for $850 a month!
Although Lansing got put on the map thanks to the founding of Olds Motor Vehicle Company in 1897, modern Lansing has a much wider slate of job opportunities, including other forms of manufacturing, education, banking and healthcare, among others. As a result, it's easy to live, work and play in Lansing.
Lansing is also delightfully diverse, culturally speaking. In fact, Lansing is known for celebrating Black and minority culture year-round. There is an annual African American Parade here, plus historic sites such as the Malcolm X Homesite and the Michigan History Museum.
There's plenty for people of all ages and persuasions to do around town. Families love Potter Park Zoo, as well as all the outdoor fun that Lansing River Trail offers. The 4-H Children's Gardens at MSU is another awesome place to stop by with the kiddos.
- Average 1-BR rent price: $698
- Average rent change in the past year: -1.68 percent
Topping our list of the cheapest places to live in Michigan, the mid-state city of Saginaw boasts the cheapest rent by more than $150 per month (compared with second-place, Lansing). Rent in Saginaw dropped 1.68 percent over the last year to about $698 for an average one-bedroom apartment.
The city was originally inhabited by the Sauks. So, the word Saginaw literally means “Land of the Sauks." The area was originally a major lumber hub, thanks to easy water access. Today, it's known for its technical innovations. In fact, it hovers at the top of the list of most registered patents per capita in the country.
Locals especially love Saginaw's proximity to waterways. The city is on the banks of the Saginaw River, and Saginaw Bay serves as an inlet to Lake Huron. Ultra-popular Ojibway Island is downtown on the river and plays host to lots of events and people who just want to stroll or bike the area. There's even ice fishing in the winter!
The 10 most expensive places to live in Michigan
Although on the whole Michigan is more affordable than many other U.S. cities, it still has some relatively swank areas. Take a look at this list of the most expensive cities in Michigan.
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Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and Rent.com's multifamily rental property inventory as of May 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.