These Cities Have the Cheapest Rent in the U.S.

Two years after the initial lockdown, America is a much different place. Millions left the office to work from home. This mass office exodus changed the nation forever. Scores of workers are now permanently remote, never intending to go back to the office. Many of those have the option of working from anywhere, not tied to one city. They're free to pick up and move to a much cheaper locale.

So, if you're on the prowl for somewhere where rents are more affordable, where should you be looking? What are the big cities with the cheapest rent in the U.S.A.?

Finding the cheapest rent in the U.S.

Where will you find the most affordable big cities in the U.S. for renters? They're primarily in the Upper Midwest and Great Plains, with a smattering throughout the South. Where they are not is along the Eastern Seaboard or anywhere west of the Rockies.

To determine the cities with the cheapest rent in the U.S.A., we studied the average rental rates for every large city. That includes any city with a population of over 50,000 and sufficient rental inventory of all common apartment layouts — studios, one-bedrooms and two-bedrooms.

From this list of cities, we rated and ranked rents for all unit types. These rankings were then totaled together for a combined score. That result determined the following list of cities with the cheapest rent in the U.S.A.

Data breakdown:

10 (tie). Des Moines, IA

des moines iowa

  • Population: 214,237
  • Studio Rent: $904
  • 1-BR Rent: $1,221
  • 2-BR Rent: $1,393

It's not that the citizens of Des Moines, IA, don't appreciate corn. Agriculture built this city, and corn is still quite important. But modern-day Des Moines has built on its economic industry to become one of the Midwest's leading small-city tech finance hubs.

For decades, Des Moines grew out of a corn capital into a recognized insurance industry core. However, in recent years, that economic might has expanded the city into a business tech center for incubators, startups and venture capitalists.

All this new money has transitioned the sleepy state capital into a destination for millennials. Des Moines boasts a vibrant and revitalized business district. The area features a handful of James Beard Award-winning restaurants, a number of parks and sprawling gardens and an extensive riverwalk along the Des Moines River.

If you're going to live in this up-and-coming city, there are two things you need to know. First, don't pronounce the second “s" in Des Moines. That'll earn you a one-way trip out of town. Second, the city is an affordable place to live. Its price for one-bedrooms is the highest among the top 10 cheapest rents in the U.S.A. But studios are quite affordable. One will run you just $904 a month on average, the ninth cheapest in the nation.

10 (tie). Albuquerque, NM

albuquerque new mexico

  • Population: 560,513
  • Studio Rent: $923
  • 1-BR Rent: $1,165
  • 2-BR Rent: $1,412

For a city of just a half-million residents in the nation's 14th smallest state, Albuquerque, NM, sure is prevalent in pop culture. Everyone knows this New Mexico city was the backdrop for “Breaking Bad." As was “In Plain Sight." In an iconic “The Simpsons" storyline, Homer's beloved Isotopes baseball team packed up and moved to Albuquerque. And for many, awareness of Albuquerque came from Bugs Bunny not taking a left turn there.

But, of course, Albuquerque is more than its unusual double-“q" name. It's a bustling Silicon Desert city, up-and-coming tech hub, research science center, growing medical community and booming tourism town. Netflix, Facebook, Microsoft and Intel all have facilities in the New Mexico Technology Corridor. Albuquerque offers high livability with enjoyable weather, a vibrant craft beer culture and a low cost of living. And yes, an active TV and film production industry.

There's so much to this underappreciated city. It's home to Sandia National Labs, Kirkland Air Force Base and the University of New Mexico. Getting away can include a hike through the desert mountains, proximity to world-class skiing and winter sports facilities and an internationally-famous hot air balloon festival.

Despite having the highest rent for two-bedroom apartments among the 10 cities with the cheapest rent in the U.S.A., the ABQ is still affordable. A high desert studio goes for under a grand a month on average.

8 (tie). Winston-Salem, NC

winston-salem north carolina

  • Population: 247,945
  • Studio Rent: $1,026
  • 1-BR Rent: $1,123
  • 2-BR Rent: $1,373

First Street Downtown is a long-ago forgotten border between the town of Winston and the town of Salem. But in 1912, the two cities saw an opportunity — and a hyphen — and consolidated equally. Thus, the city of Winston-Salem, NC, was born.

But the future of the new city wasn't cemented until a few years later when the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company set up shop. That corporation, and both its Winston and Salem brands, changed the trajectory of the hyphenated city. RJR is still headquartered in Winston-Salem today, but it's not alone. A number of well-known companies call these twin cities home. Among those are diverse companies like Lowes Food, Hanes Wear, Krispy Kreme and Blue Rhino Propane.

There's a lot to Winston-Salem, and that's why it's so often ranked highly on livability indices. Among its accolades are one of the best places to live, retire, work remotely, drink beer and start a business. And that's because the living is affordable. Rents in the city of a quarter-million residents start at just $1,026 for a studio, on average.

8 (tie). Louisville, KY

louisville, kentucky

  • Population: 617,638
  • Studio Rent: $1,011
  • 1-BR Rent: $1,179
  • 2-BR Rent: $1,324

If you're a foodie, you might be thinking of moving to a city like San Francisco, Portland or Savannah. But have you considered Kentucky? Yes, the “K" in K.F.C. And its largest city, Louisville, is one of the most overlooked food cities in America.

Of course, fried chicken is an integral part of the Louisville food scene. But the folks here aren't just indulging in the Colonel's secret recipe. One of the most traditional Louisville dishes is its iconic chicken fried steak. The city also has a unique take on barbecue, often with mutton as the main protein.

Louisville isn't all food, there's plenty of drink, too. And that starts with two spirits that scream Kentucky. First, of course, is prime Kentucky bourbon, and everyone in Louisville has their favorite bourbon sippin' spot. And each year, the Kentucky Derby attracts thousands to Churchill Downs. A day at the races is equal parts equestrian sport and imbibing on mint juleps.

Like many Southern cities, Louisville has experienced a renaissance among younger crowds. The city is suddenly a hip spot with a boom in unexpectedly cool new eateries, breweries and live music venues. And it's affordable to live in a city with so much. In fact, two-bedroom rents average just $1,324 a month, the seventh-lowest in the nation.

6 (tie). Memphis, TN

memphis, tennessee

  • Population: 651,073
  • Studio Rent: $1,016
  • 1-BR Rent: $1,138
  • 2-BR Rent: $1,201

You should put the city of Memphis, TN, on any top 10 list just based on its barbecue alone. But the queen of the Mid-South is also a homey and affordable city, as well. Sure, the ghost of Elvis and Graceland permeates Memphis culture. However, it's also a modern and vibrant city of treelined streets, live music and, yes, arguably the nation's best food.

Do you find Southern music and foodie hubs like New Orleans, Austin or Nashville attractive? Memphis is a cheaper alternative. Memphis is a diverse and sprawling city. Its downtown has blues and barbecue on every corner. And its leafy, suburban-style outer neighborhoods are a convenient distance from all the action out east and along the Mississippi River.

But its Memphis' unique attractions that make it one of the South's great cities. Blues clubs and party spots line Downtown's Beale Street. Out in the river is Mud Island, a stunning park with a giant walkable map of the Lower Mississippi. And history links generations from the National Civil Rights Museum to the legendary Sun Studios. Even the ducks that inhabit the fountain at the Peabody Hotel would agree.

But there's no better place in the world for pink Cadillacs and dry rub. And you can affordably live within smelling distance. Studio apartments list for just $1,016 on average. But two-bedrooms are less than $200 dollars more a month, the fourth-cheapest doubles in the nation.

6 (tie). Indianapolis, IN

indianapolis indiana

  • Population: 876,384
  • Studio Rent: $1,063
  • 1-BR Rent: $1,072
  • 2-BR Rent: $1,298

Of the three capital cities within the top 10 cheapest cities in the U.S.A., Indianapolis is by far the largest. Outside of Indianapolis 500 weekend, the city is oft overlooked as a premier Midwestern city. While the world descends on Indianapolis en masse each Memorial Day, Indy is an affordable, livable city year-round.

A few miles to the east of the Motor Speedway, Indianapolis' Downtown is known as Mile Square. The district features a number of parks, museums, eateries, bars and live sports. Central to Mile Square is the Soldiers & Sailors Monument. To its west is both the Indiana Convention Center and Indiana State House. To its north are the two parks that bookend the Indiana World War Memorial. And to the south is Gainbridge Fieldhouse, home of the Pacers and Lucas Oil Stadium, the Colts' home field.

Nearby Indy's bustling downtown is White River State Park along the waterfront. This urban park features gardens and walking paths, along with a number of attractions. Here you'll find the headquarters of the NCAA and its Hall of Champions museum, as well as the 6,000-capacity TCU Amphitheater and an IMAX theater. And just across the river is the Indianapolis Zoo, which has ranked among the 10 best zoos in the nation.

While the Indy 500 is one of the nation's largest sporting events, you might want to race to Naptown to snag a new place to live. Studio apartments in Indianapolis are pricey, an average of $1,063, the highest in the top 10. However, one-bedrooms are the seventh-cheapest and doubles are the fifth.

4 (tie). San Antonio, TX

san antonio texas

  • Population: 1,547,253
  • Studio Rent: $750
  • 1-BR Rent: $1,078
  • 2-BR Rent: $1,304

Fun fact: San Antonio is the seventh-largest city in the U.S. Bigger than Dallas, San Francisco and Detroit. It's the second-largest city in the entire South. But most Americans don't know this about the Alamo city. Why not?

That's because it's sort of a misnomer. While it's a top 10 biggest city within its city limits, it's the center of just the 21st largest metropolitan area. One and a half million people live in the city. But just 865,000 inhabit the surrounding eight counties. But there's a lot of advantage to a city concentrated within its borders. There's a lot to do.

While not always a top-of-mind vacation destination, San Antonio is a major tourist city. The most well-known, of course, is the Alamo. The famous mission and its park plaza are right Downtown, in the shadows of skyscrapers and office towers. But the most visited attraction in SATX is the San Antonio River Walk. The sunken canalside walking path sees 12 million visitors a year, two million of those representing locals. Tourists and San Antonians alike flock to the pedestrian corridor for its Tex-Mex restaurants, quirky retail and romantic boat rides.

And that's not all. San Antonio was the site of the 1968 World's Fair, at Hemisfair Park. The fair's Tower of the Americas still stands, the tallest structure in the city. The city is also home to SeaWorld, Six Flags Fiesta Texas, the NBA's Spurs and the 64,000-seat Alamodome.

Despite being the largest city in our top 10, and one of the nation's biggest, San Antonio is an affordable place to live. A one-bedroom apartment goes for an average of just $1,078 a month.

4 (tie). Omaha, NE

omaha nebraska

  • Population: 478,192
  • Studio Rent: $827
  • 1-BR Rent: $983
  • 2-BR Rent: $1,343

“Omaha! Omaha!" For two decades, the Nebraska city was heard each Sunday across the country as shouted by Peyton Manning during his pre-snap call. You may also know Omaha's famous steaks. Or perhaps as the site of the College World Series. Or, the hometown of Warren Buffet.

But the real Omaha is a modern and lively Great Plains city. With just under a half-million residents, Omaha thrives with culture, education, chic dining and trendy retail. Its downtown lies along the bend in the Missouri River across from Iowa. Its heart is the southern downtown district of Old Market. The nine-block region offers a number of restaurants, upscale shopping and accessible galleries along brick-lined streets.

Omaha is a significant Midwest higher education locale, as well. Northwest of Old Market is Creighton University, the city's major educational hub. Further west is the campus of the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Are you more of a foodie? Come see the history. Omaha is, incredibly, the birthplace of Duncan Hines, Raisin Bran, Swanson TV dinners and Reuben sandwiches.

Omaha offers the cheapest rent of any city in the Central Plains. Studios rent for less than $900, one-bedrooms for less than $1,000 and two-bedrooms for less than $1,400.

3. Baton Rouge, LA

baton rouge, louisiana

  • Population: 220,236
  • Studio Rent: $586
  • 1-BR Rent: $1,056
  • 2-BR Rent: $1,088

New Orleans is an international tourist, foodie and party destination. But for all that fun, it's not a cheap city. However, just a bit over an hour up I-10 is a city with nearly as much to offer, and a whole lot cheaper. Baton Rouge, the state capital, is a Mississippi Delta destination second to none. Well, maybe only to Nola — but it's got it all.

Baton Rouge has its own historic Mardi Gras celebration, with eight major parades. The city offers its own iconic Looou-siana cuisine, with po'boys and seafood etouffee that rival those in New Orleans. And it features equally vibrant jazz, blues and creole music scenes running late into the night.

However, there's one thing Baton Rouge can hold over New Orleans. And that's a major university campus. Louisiana State University enrolls 30,000 students, creating a college city atmosphere that New Orleans just can't match. Just spend a Saturday with 102,000 screaming fans at Tiger Stadium, the sixth-largest in the nation. You'll see that this definitely isn't Nola.

Baton Rouge has the hurricanes and beignets for sure. But what the laid-back city doesn't have is New Orleans' crowds, crime rate, tourists and expense. A studio apartment, perfect for students, rents for an average of just $586 a month. That's the cheapest studio lease in the nation.

2. Fargo, ND

fargo north dakota

  • Population: 124,662
  • Studio Rent: $626
  • 1-BR Rent: $826
  • 2-BR Rent: $936

You may think you know Fargo, because of the movie “Fargo." But in actuality, the film takes place nearly entirely in Minnesota. The real-life Fargo is the largest city in North Dakota and second in the Dakotas overall. Just a couple of hours from the Manitoba border, it lies just across the Red River from that movie set of Minnesota.

Yes, like in the film, Fargo is rife with vowel shift accents and frigid weather. But it's also a wonderful place to live. Fargo has ranked as one of the nation's most livable cities by a number of publications. Livability notes the city's “vigorous economy" and craft beer scene. It's been honored as one of the best small cities for business and a top 10 best places to start your career. No surprise, it has also been anointed the “hottest job market" in the nation.

With an average rent of $626 for a studio, $826 for a one-bedroom and $936 for two, Fargo has the second cheapest rent in the U.S.A. for every apartment type.

1. Grand Forks, ND

grand forks north dakota

  • Population: 55,839
  • Studio Rent: $676
  • 1-BR Rent: $800
  • 2-BR Rent: $890

With a population of just 56,000, Grand Forks is the smallest city in our entire study. But its population isn't the only thing small in Grand Forks. It's also the city with the cheapest rent in the U.S.A. But you have to be hearty to enjoy a bit of isolation and enjoy the rents.

Grand Forks is an hour north of Fargo, and an hour from the Canadian border. And it sits just across the Red River from its sister city of East Grand Forks, MN. That's north, that's isolated and that's cold. Its average midwinter low temperatures hover below zero, with a record of a chilly 42 below.

Despite its seclusion, Grand Forks' downtown feels contemporary. Much of that is due to modernization in the wake of the Great Flood of 1997. The disaster damaged much of the district, necessitating rapid redevelopment. The city is also the home of the University of North Dakota and the 2,200-acre Greater Grand Forks Greenway. The Greenway is twice the size of Central Park and features disc and traditional golf courses, festival grounds, a wildlife preserve and more.

Grand Forks enjoys rents of $800 and $890 for one- and two-bedroom apartments, respectively. Both are the lowest overall among cities with over 50,000 residents. Its studio units are the third cheapest in the nation.

The 50 cheapest places to rent in the U.S.

Expanding the top of the list out to the 50 cheapest places to rent in the U.S.A., interesting patterns emerge. A few more places along the East Coast pop up, but California is still not seen. There are distinct clusters throughout the South and the Great Lakes.

The only West Coast city to make the list is Tacoma, in Washington state, at 45. And it's plain to see which of the largest cities in the nation are still affordable. Among these are Houston (29), Phoenix (30), Detroit (41), Philadelphia (46) and Dallas (47). An amazing six cities in Arizona make the list. Tucson, Mesa, Glendale, Chandler, Phoenix and Tempe all fall between places 23 and 30.

RankCityPopulationAvg. Studio RentAvg. 1BR RentAvg. 2BR Rent
1Grand Forks, ND 55,839 $676$800$890
2Fargo, ND 124,662 $626$826$936
3Baton Rouge, LA 220,236 $586 $1,056 $1,088
4Omaha, NE 478,192 $827$983 $1,343
4San Antonio, TX 1,547,253 $750 $1,078 $1,304
6Indianapolis, IN 876,384 $1,063 $1,072 $1,298
6Memphis, TN 651,073 $1,016 $1,138 $1,201
8Louisville, KY 617,638 $1,011 $1,179 $1,324
8Winston-Salem, NC 247,945 $1,026 $1,123 $1,373
10Albuquerque, NM 560,513 $923 $1,165 $1,412
10Des Moines, IA 214,237 $904 $1,221 $1,393
12Kansas City, MO 495,327 $1,073 $1,161 $1,341
13Erie, PA 95,508 $975 $1,270 $1,400
14Chattanooga, TN 182,799 $894 $1,016 $1,939
15Bloomington, IN 84,943 $1,278 $1,087 $1,377
16Madison, WI 259,680 $995 $1,214 $1,773
17Jacksonville, FL 911,507 $753 $1,470 $1,723
18Cleveland, OH 381,009 $1,082 $1,273 $1,772
18Milwaukee, WI 590,157 $1,153 $1,295 $1,726
20Rochester, NY 205,695 $1,171 $1,286 $1,739
21Richmond, VA 230,436 $1,194 $1,372 $1,661
22Rogers, AR 68,669 $1,599 $1,140 $1,478
23Tucson, AZ 548,073 $1,738 $1,066 $1,564
24Mesa, AZ 518,012 $1,048 $1,402 $1,853
25Blaine, MN 65,607 $1,208 $1,469 $1,682
25Glendale, AZ 252,381 $900 $1,579 $1,908
27Saint Paul, MN 308,096 $1,178 $1,446 $1,828
27Chandler, AZ 261,165 $1,065 $1,377 $2,046
29Houston, TX 2,320,268 $1,194 $1,321 $1,839
30Phoenix, AZ 1,680,992 $1,349 $1,466 $1,687
30Tempe, AZ 195,805 $1,240 $1,548 $1,725
32Minneapolis, MN 429,606 $1,194 $1,417 $1,916
33Columbus, OH 898,553 $1,290 $1,507 $1,728
33Birmingham, AL 209,403 $1,367 $1,561 $1,479
35Pittsburgh, PA 300,286 $1,415 $1,548 $1,586
36Las Vegas, NV 651,319 $1,185 $1,635 $1,847
37Atlanta, GA 506,811 $1,291 $1,596 $2,118
38Cincinnati, OH 303,940 $1,300 $1,631 $2,101
39Salt Lake City, UT 200,567 $1,532 $1,529 $2,199
40Reno, NV 255,601 $1,180 $1,870 $2,505
41Saint Louis, MO 300,576 $1,251 $1,883 $2,300
41Detroit, MI 670,031 $1,326 $1,632 $2,308
43Baltimore, MD 593,490 $1,718 $1,818 $1,825
44Austin, TX 978,908 $1,505 $1,916 $1,933
45Tacoma, WA 217,827 $1,596 $1,870 $2,417
46Philadelphia, PA 1,584,064 $1,472 $1,952 $2,541
47Dallas, TX 1,343,573 $1,758 $1,706 $2,509
48Orlando, FL 287,442 $1,738 $1,977 $2,459
49Nashville, TN 670,820 $1,812 $1,937 $2,501
50Ann Arbor, MI 119,980 $1,751 $2,166 $2,351

25 cheapest places to rent a studio in the U.S.

Of course, the cheapest apartments in the cheapest cities are studio apartments. But remember, a studio doesn't have to mean a closet-sized room with a bed in the kitchenette. There are fabulous and even spacey studios across the country.

One of the best values for studio apartments is in Jacksonville. The largest city by area in the U.S., Jacksonville offers studios for a low average of $753 a month. That ranks it 5th cheapest in the nation, while its one- and two-bedrooms fall outside the top 20. Chattanooga's $894 studio apartments rank 7th-lowest, while its two-bedrooms are over $1,000 more expensive.

RankCityPopulationAvg. Studio RentAvg. 1BR RentAvg. 2BR Rent
1Baton Rouge, LA 220,236 $586 $1,056 $1,088
2Fargo, ND 124,662 $626$826$936
3Grand Forks, ND 55,839 $676$800$890
4San Antonio, TX 1,547,253 $750 $1,078 $1,304
5Jacksonville, FL 911,507 $753 $1,470 $1,723
6Omaha, NE 478,192 $827$983 $1,343
7Chattanooga, TN 182,799 $894 $1,016 $1,939
8Glendale, AZ 252,381 $900 $1,579 $1,908
9Des Moines, IA 214,237 $904 $1,221 $1,393
10Albuquerque, NM 560,513 $923 $1,165 $1,412
11Erie, PA 95,508 $975 $1,270 $1,400
12Madison, WI 259,680 $995 $1,214 $1,773
13Louisville, KY 617,638 $1,011 $1,179 $1,324
14Memphis, TN 651,073 $1,016 $1,138 $1,201
15Winston-Salem, NC 247,945 $1,026 $1,123 $1,373
16Mesa, AZ 518,012 $1,048 $1,402 $1,853
17Indianapolis, IN 876,384 $1,063 $1,072 $1,298
18Chandler, AZ 261,165 $1,065 $1,377 $2,046
19Kansas City, MO 495,327 $1,073 $1,161 $1,341
20Cleveland, OH 381,009 $1,082 $1,273 $1,772
21Milwaukee, WI 590,157 $1,153 $1,295 $1,726
22Rochester, NY 205,695 $1,171 $1,286 $1,739
23Saint Paul, MN 308,096 $1,178 $1,446 $1,828
24Reno, NV 255,601 $1,180 $1,870 $2,505
25Las Vegas, NV 651,319 $1,185 $1,635 $1,847

25 cheapest places to rent a one-bedroom apartment in the U.S.

One-bedrooms are perhaps the most common apartment layout in the nation. They're easy and convenient both for couples and solo renters. The 25 cities with the cheapest rent in the U.S.A. for one-bedrooms all fall at or under $1,400 a month on average.

In fact, one-bedrooms are even more affordable than studios in many cities. The city with the starkest difference is Tucson. An average one-bedroom runs $1,066 a month. However, a studio leases for $1,738 monthly. That makes one-bedrooms $672 a month cheaper than studios. The distinction is severe, as well, in Rogers, with a population near 70,000. In the up-and-coming Northwest Arkansas city, average one-bedrooms are $459 cheaper than similar studios.

RankCityPopulationAvg. Studio RentAvg. 1BR RentAvg. 2BR Rent
1Grand Forks, ND 55,839 $676$800$890
2Fargo, ND 124,662 $626$826$936
3Omaha, NE 478,192 $827$983 $1,343
4Chattanooga, TN 182,799 $894 $1,016 $1,939
5Baton Rouge, LA 220,236 $586 $1,056 $1,088
6Tucson, AZ 548,073 $1,738 $1,066 $1,564
7Indianapolis, IN 876,384 $1,063 $1,072 $1,298
8San Antonio, TX 1,547,253 $750 $1,078 $1,304
9Bloomington, IN 84,943 $1,278 $1,087 $1,377
10Winston-Salem, NC 247,945 $1,026 $1,123 $1,373
11Memphis, TN 651,073 $1,016 $1,138 $1,201
12Rogers, AR 68,669 $1,599 $1,140 $1,478
13Kansas City, MO 495,327 $1,073 $1,161 $1,341
14Albuquerque, NM 560,513 $923 $1,165 $1,412
15Louisville, KY 617,638 $1,011 $1,179 $1,324
16Madison, WI 259,680 $995 $1,214 $1,773
17Des Moines, IA 214,237 $904 $1,221 $1,393
18Erie, PA 95,508 $975 $1,270 $1,400
19Cleveland, OH 381,009 $1,082 $1,273 $1,772
20Rochester, NY 205,695 $1,171 $1,286 $1,739
21Milwaukee, WI 590,157 $1,153 $1,295 $1,726
22Houston, TX 2,320,268 $1,194 $1,321 $1,839
23Richmond, VA 230,436 $1,194 $1,372 $1,661
24Chandler, AZ 261,165 $1,065 $1,377 $2,046
25Mesa, AZ 518,012 $1,048 $1,402 $1,853

25 cheapest places to rent a two-bedroom apartment in the U.S.

While studio and one-bedroom apartments are the most affordable, two-bedrooms are possibly the best value. They're great for families with a child or two, a tenant needing a home office space or even splitting the rent with a roommate.

Most of the cities with the most affordable two-bedroom apartments are the cities among the cheapest overall. So then, it becomes about value versus having a single bedroom. In several cities, it's less than just a hundred dollars more a month for an entire extra bedroom. In Baton Rouge, Pittsburgh, Memphis and Grand Forks, less than an extra grand a month doubles your bedroom space.

But the biggest value is clearly in Birmingham. An average of $1,479 a month will snag you a two-bedroom. But that figure is actually $82 less than the monthly average rent for a one-bedroom.

RankCityPopulationAvg. Studio RentAvg. 1BR RentAvg. 2BR Rent
1Grand Forks, ND 55,839 $676$800$890
2Fargo, ND 124,662 $626$826$936
3Baton Rouge, LA 220,236 $586 $1,056 $1,088
4Memphis, TN 651,073 $1,016 $1,138 $1,201
5Indianapolis, IN 876,384 $1,063 $1,072 $1,298
6San Antonio, TX 1,547,253 $750 $1,078 $1,304
7Louisville, KY 617,638 $1,011 $1,179 $1,324
8Kansas City, MO 495,327 $1,073 $1,161 $1,341
9Omaha, NE 478,192 $827$983 $1,343
10Winston-Salem, NC 247,945 $1,026 $1,123 $1,373
11Bloomington, IN 84,943 $1,278 $1,087 $1,377
12Des Moines, IA 214,237 $904 $1,221 $1,393
13Erie, PA 95,508 $975 $1,270 $1,400
14Albuquerque, NM 560,513 $923 $1,165 $1,412
15Rogers, AR 68,669 $1,599 $1,140 $1,478
16Birmingham, AL 209,403 $1,367 $1,561 $1,479
17Tucson, AZ 548,073 $1,738 $1,066 $1,564
18Pittsburgh, PA 300,286 $1,415 $1,548 $1,586
19Richmond, VA 230,436 $1,194 $1,372 $1,661
20Blaine, MN 65,607 $1,208 $1,469 $1,682
21Phoenix, AZ 1,680,992 $1,349 $1,466 $1,687
22Jacksonville, FL 911,507 $753 $1,470 $1,723
23Tempe, AZ 195,805 $1,240 $1,548 $1,725
24Milwaukee, WI 590,157 $1,153 $1,295 $1,726
25Columbus, OH 898,553 $1,290 $1,507 $1,728

The most expensive cities for renters

What's on the flip side? Where are you going to find the most expensive cities for renters? Well, if you live in California or the Northeast, you already know. Eleven of the 20 most expensive rental cities are in the Golden State. Seven of these are in Southern California and four are in the Bay Area.

But, of course, the most expensive rents in the U.S. are in New York City. In fact, it carries the highest rent for all three of the apartment layout types. Studios run an average of $4,179, a one-bedroom lease for $5,347 and a two-bedroom is a ludicrous $7,384 a month. Keep in mind, however, the definition of a studio apartment in big cities like New York can carry a different meaning.

RankCityPopulationAvg. Studio RentAvg. 1BR RentAvg. 2BR Rent
1New York, NY 8,336,817 $4,179 $5,347 $7,384
2Santa Monica, CA 90,401 $3,375 $4,207 $5,288
3Jersey City, NJ 262,075 $3,157 $3,766 $5,055
4Boston, MA 692,600 $3,043 $3,687 $4,704
5San Francisco, CA 881,549 $2,864 $3,515 $4,494
6Cambridge, MA 118,927 $2,976 $3,474 $4,167
7Long Beach, CA 462,628 $2,941 $3,056 $4,223
8Oakland, CA 433,031 $2,665 $3,152 $4,071
9Irvine, CA 287,401 $2,752 $3,202 $3,729
10Los Angeles, CA 3,979,576 $2,344 $2,913 $3,910


To find the cheapest rent in the U.S., we looked at all cities with a population over 50,000 according to the U.S. Census's 2022 estimates that also had sufficient studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom rental inventory. If a city did not have adequate data for even one unit type, it was excluded from this report.

We then ranked every city by affordability in each unit type to come up with a final ranking that was evenly weighted across each apartment size.

Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and Rent.'s multifamily rental property inventory of one-bedroom apartments. We pulled our data in February 2022 and applied a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each individual unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.

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.

Michael HochmanMichael is a Philadelphia-based writer with a variety of interests, including music, TV, politics, travel, and sports (Fly Eagles Fly!). His background includes a decade as a programming executive in network television, six years as a marketing executive at a technology company, and time at two magazines and two advertising agencies. He also sits on the board of a non-profit law firm that assists veterans with disabilities. Michael is a proud Syracuse grad (Newhouse) who has lived in Kansas, Chicago, Saratoga and beyond.

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