Naughty or Nice: Naughtiest Cities for Renters

Is your city naughty or nice? Here are the Top 10 Naughtiest Cities for Renters, where the tight rental market gets a lump of coal in its stocking:


10.  Portland, OR

Portland’s population growth is increasingly becoming a problem for residents in this sprawling metropolitan. Known for being the “City of Roses” due to its multitude of rose gardens, Portland has become a hot market for landlords and renters alike. Residents have come to expect harsh applicant policies and even harsher landlords who increase rents at a whim.

  • Rental Vacancy Rate: 5.0%
  • Median Rent 1BR: $1,338
  • Median Household Income: $51,238

9.     Seattle, WA

According to the U.S. Census, Seattle saw the biggest spike in median rental prices among the top metropolitan areas in the nation from 2010 to 2013. In addition to rental increases, Seattle has also seen an increase in the number of renters year over year. Perhaps it’s the influx of tech jobs or the great coffee—either way, renters are paying hefty price tags for this seaport city.

  • Rental Vacancy Rate: 5.7%
  • Median Rent 1BR: $1,756
  • Median Household Income: $63,470

8. Boston, MA

Boston’s rising rental rates are deterring renters from landing leases in the city proper. Instead, they are heading to the suburbs so they can have easy access to all the entertainment, food and culture that Boston provides without the lofty price tag.

  • Rental Vacancy Rate: 5.9%
  • Median Rent 1BR: $2,894
  • Median Household Income: $53,136

7. Honolulu, HI

There’s a price to pay when you live in one of the most popular honeymoon destinations in this country and it’s extremely high monthly rents. While Honolulu can be considered paradise with the beach as your backyard, there are a lot of factors that make it a rough place for renters to live. In addition to the cost of housing, everyday items like groceries and gas are more expensive in Hawaii because of its location. At the end of the day, that’s the price of the beautiful weather and the Aloha spirit.

  • Rental Vacancy Rate: 6.3%
  • Median Rent 1BR: $3,984
  • Median Household Income: $72,292

6.     Denver, CO

With the constant influx of new renters and lack of apartment vacancies in Denver, the Mile High City comes in at number 6 on our naughty list. As Denver’s rental market isn’t being replenished by new construction for apartments, residents are beginning to load up their cars and head to the suburbs for more space and cheaper prices.

  • Rental Vacancy Rate: 4.7%
  • Median Rent 1BR: $1,499
  • Median Household Income: $49,091

 5.     Los Angeles, CA

With the constant stream of new luxury apartment buildings in the works, it’s becoming increasingly more expensive for renters in Los Angeles. Los Angeles has even been dubbed the least affordable city in the U.S., according to Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Study. The limited public transportation and increasing gas prices do nothing to help cushion the blow to the renters’ paycheck.

  • Rental Vacancy Rate: 4.9%
  • Median Rent 1BR: $2,485
  • Median Household Income: $49,745

4.     San Jose, CA

While the Bay Area may be known for its lovely weather (minus some fog), great food and wonderful location, it also gets the reputation of being an expensive rental market. With many young families moving out of San Francisco into surrounding counties, rent has started to increase as San Jose has become more desirable. Everyone wants to send their kids to the area’s strong school system, but the amount of your monthly income going to pay the bills means you end up feeling like the Grinch.

  • Rental Vacancy Rate: 3.8%
  • Median Rent 1BR: $2,360
  • Median Household Income: $81,349

3.  New York, NY

With demand for rental units as high as it is in New York City, actually finding an apartment can feel like a Hanukkah miracle. In a city where it feels like just walking outside your home means opening up your wallet, it’s tough to make it in New York without feeling like you’re constantly broke. With so much to do (and so much of it costing a lot of money!), being a renter in New York is a never-ending struggle between eating ramen for dinner to save a few bucks versus having to try whatever is this week’s Cronut.

  • Rental Vacancy Rate: 6.4%
  • Median Rent 1BR: $4,010
  • Median Household Income: $51,865

2.  Ventura, CA

Ventura’s beautiful southern California location can make for a picturesque city to live in, but its pricey rental prices often leave renters feeling more like the Grinch than Santa Claus. With rents as high as $1,578 for a one-bedroom apartment, it’s no wonder renters in Ventura often find themselves sticking it out in their current apartment instead of taking the risk of leaving and being left out in the cold.

  • Rental Vacancy Rate: 2.3%
  • Median Rent 1BR: $1,578
  • Median Household Income: $76,483

1.  San Francisco, CA

Across the Bay Area, average rental prices are approaching record highs as the demand for housing remains strong and high-income tech workers continue to Silicon Valley with ideas of the next Uber or Facebook. The rental situation is complicated by the city’s geography, strict building codes and its residents desire to live in a place with great view and endless local attractions. San Francisco residents know that you end up having to choose between affordable rent, a good location and living with roommates because getting all three is next to impossible.

  • Rental Vacancy Rate: 3.2%
  • Median Rent 1BR: $3,125
  • Median Household Income: $73,802

Which cities made Santa’s nice list? See the Top 10 Nicest Cities for Renters!

Methodology: has assembled the Top 10 Naughty/Nice Cities for Renters based on the top 75 metropolitan areas as deemed by the U.S. Census. Cities with exceptionally low rental vacancy rates (lower than the national average of 7.4%) and high median rental rates were considered “naughty.” Median household income was also taken into consideration. The Top 10 Nice Cities were ranked based on high rental inventory (greater than the national average) and low median rental rates. Rental vacancy was given a weight of 5 points and median rental rates were given a weight of 3 during the ranking process. Household income (2012) and rental vacancy rates (2013 estimate) were provided by the U.S. Census (2012). Median rental rates were provided by (2014).

This article fits under the following categories:

Rent Editorial TeamAt, our goal is to be the most efficient digital resource to help people find and live in a place they love. We strive to help renters make informed decisions by providing them with valuable information and advice, including money-saving tips, local guides, HD photos and certified ratings and reviews from actual residents.

Recent Articles

Everything’s bigger in Texas, including Houston. And if you live here, you love it, humidity and all.

Military apartments are available only to members of the military and are usually found on a base.