A city where a two-bedroom apartment is actually cheaper than a one-bedroom apartment? They do exist! While it may seem like an oxymoron, there are places around the U.S. where it would be more affordable for you to rent a two-bedroom unit instead of a one-bedroom.
Over the past year, demand for one-bedroom units has spiked nationwide, especially in major cities. And with that demand, rental rates are also higher. But as a result, lots of larger, two-bedroom units are being left unfilled.
To entice renters, those two-bedroom apartments are going for attractively low rates. Just think of all that big, empty space just waiting for you to make it a home. We rounded up the top 30 cities where it's cheaper for renters to upgrade from a one-bedroom apartment to a two-bedroom apartment.
Places where it's cheaper to rent a two-bedroom apartment
For our list of the top 30 cities where it's more affordable to rent a two-bedroom apartment, we looked at cities with a population of over 50,000. These cities also had to have at least 10 available one-bedroom and two-bedroom units. The findings revealed some interesting trends about two-bedroom average rent.
First, most of the cities are in the Midwest or West. For the West Coast, California was the top state. Following the Midwest and West, the South was the biggest geographic area.
Secondly, many of these mostly smaller cities are close to major metropolitan areas where the rent is very high. This shows a clear example of renters leaving bigger cities for smaller, nearby towns where rent is more affordable.
Lastly, for nearly all these cities, there were many more two-bedroom units available on the market than one-bedrooms. For example, in Temecula, CA, there are twice as many two-bedroom units as one-bedroom units.
30. Lafayette, IN
- 1BR average rent: $1,036
- 2BR average rent: $1,027
- Difference: -$9
The city of Lafayette lies just 63 miles northwest of Indianapolis. In the state capital, the average rent for a one-bedroom is $1,192. So moving slightly farther out to this charming city is already saving renters money. But you can save even more by upgrading to a two-bedroom, saving you $108 a year.
Lafayette is perhaps best known for being the home of Purdue University, located in West Lafayette. Since its founding in 1825, the city's placement on the Wabash River made it a center for trade and commerce. There's also a thriving arts and culture scene, a very walkable downtown and lots of parks and nature areas for outdoor recreation.
29. Des Moines, IA
- 1BR average rent: $1,118
- 2BR average rent: $1,108
- Difference: -$10
Iowa's capital city is famous for being a major center for the financial and insurance industries. Every election year, the eyes of the nation are also on Des Moines as it hosts the first caucus of presidential elections. With a solid job market and plenty of cultural attractions, it's easy to see why people would want to live here. As the capital, rent is on the higher side at $1,118. While there isn't a big price difference between a one-bedroom and a two-bedroom, you'll still save $120 a year.
28. Napa, CA
- 1BR average rent: $2,655
- 2BR average rent: $2,645
- Difference: -$10
Who wouldn't want to live in the heart of California wine country? Located in Napa Valley, the town of Napa is well-known for its architecture and cultural offerings. But its main claim to fame is its access to California's Napa Valley wine region, which produces excellent wines like Cabernet Sauvignon.
Living in such a picturesque and desirable spot does come at a high price, though. Prices for both one-bedroom and two-bedrooms are high, with only a $10 difference. But that $120 you're saving a year can go towards some great wine.
27. Topeka, KS
- 1BR average rent: $807
- 2BR average rent: $795
- Difference: -$12
Topeka has a lot of history — from its Native American roots to settler and trade history from the Oregon Trail. It was also the site of the landmark Supreme Court case Brown v. The Board of Education, which decreed racial segregation in schools as unconstitutional. As such, living here you're surrounded by heritage, culture and history. There are work opportunities in the education, health and government sectors, and cultural offerings include abundant museums and great dining.
Despite being the capital of Kansas, Topeka is surprisingly affordable. A two-bedroom apartment will only cost an average of $795, with a one-bedroom costing $12 more.
26. Frederick, MD
- 1BR average rent: $1,311
- 2BR average rent: $1,299
- Difference: -$12
It's easy to see why Frederick is an attractive city for renters. It's less than an hour's drive from both Baltimore and Washington, D.C. This makes it an ideal area to live for commuters, with lower rent and cost of living. It's very affordable to upgrade from a one-bedroom to a two-bedroom apartment, with only a $12 difference. But there are many other pluses to living here. The city is home to tons of Civil War history and offers art, dining, outdoor recreation, shopping and more.
25. Killeen, TX
Photo source: Bay Colony Apartments / Rent.
- 1BR average rent: $799
- 2BR average rent: $778
- Difference: $21
In 2019, the central Texan city of Killeen ranked one of the best places to live in Texas. It was alongside the likes of bigger, better-known cities like Austin and Houston. But comparatively, it's also far more affordable. With rapidly expanding Austin about an hour away, renters seeking lower rates are naturally turning to Killeen. Here, a two-bedroom will cost an average of $778, $21 less than a one-bedroom.
In addition to being close to Austin, Killeen is also the home of the massive Fort Hood military base. The military is a major employer and part of the town's culture and history. There are also numerous parks and wilderness areas near the city, offering water sports, hiking and cycling.
24. Wichita, KS
- 1BR average rent: $766
- 2BR average rent: $723
- Difference: -$43
Wichita is Kansas' largest city and has the city life offerings to prove it. It's a hub for airline production and industries like manufacturing and healthcare. Aircraft production is so big here that the city is actually referred to as “The Air Capital of the World." There are museums dedicated to history and art and massive entertainment and sports venues. Music is also extremely popular here, with numerous concert halls and theaters.
For all this, the cost of living and renting here is very affordable. You can rent a two-bedroom apartment for nearly $50 less than a one-bedroom. This saves you over $500 a year, which you can put to good use in enjoying Wichita's many cosmopolitan amenities.
23. Iowa City, IA
- 1BR average rent: $798
- 2BR average rent: $747
- Difference: -$51
Located half an hour from Cedar Rapids, Iowa City has long been a draw to artists, writers and academics. The city is home to the University of Iowa. The university and education rank among the top employers in the city. Alongside its research focus on the science and humanities, many writers dream of living and working here. The university houses the famed Iowa Writers Workshop. UNESCO designated Iowa City an official City of Literature for its reputation.
For academics and writers seeking both a supportive learning environment and good cost of living, Iowa City definitely provides. Rent here is extremely affordable, and it's easy to upgrade to a two-bedroom from a one-bedroom. You'll save an average of $612 a year.
22. College Station, TX
- 1BR average rent: $1,128
- 2BR average rent: $1,076
- Difference: -$52
This eastern Texas city takes its name from being the home of Texas A&M University. As a college town, there's a lively social scene, with lots of culture, art, dining, shopping and entertainment. Thanks to the university, the city is home to numerous industries and research opportunities, including science and healthcare. Sports are especially big here due to the university as well. Aggies football is a major draw.
For living in College Station, you'll find two-bedroom apartments for an average of $1,076. On average, this is $52 cheaper than one-bedrooms. You'll save around $624 a year.
21. Honolulu, HI
- 1BR average rent: $2,075
- 2BR average rent: $2,018
- Difference: -$57
Want to live in paradise? It will cost you, but probably not as much as you may think. Due to its geographic remoteness, the cost of living in Hawaii will always be elevated. And as Hawaii's gateway and capital, Honolulu is also an expensive city. People want to live here for the balance between work and play. It's home to major industries like military defense, trade and tourism. But you also have access to incredible dining, outdoor leisure and arts and culture.
Both one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments here average over $2,000 a month. But two-bedrooms are still slightly cheaper, saving you $57 a month. That adds up to $684 a year, which you can use to enjoy Honolulu's treasures. Every little bit counts in an expensive and desirable city.
20. San Marcos, TX
- 1BR average rent: $999
- 2BR average rent: $940
- Difference: -$59
Living in San Marcos puts you in a great position if you love city life but want a lower cost of living. It's located on the I-35 corridor between two major Texas cities, Austin and San Antonio. Half an hour and an hour away, respectively, you can easily travel to either city for work and fun. But you'll pay far less in rent in the smaller town of San Marcos. Here, you can live large in an attractively priced $940 two-bedroom, which is $59 cheaper than a one-bedroom.
San Marcos is also considered a wonderful small town to call home. It's a safe community that's popular with families. Outdoors lovers will enjoy tubing, canoeing and swimming on the San Marcos River. You can catch football and other games at Texas State University's stadiums and sports venues. There's also abundant history, art and culture, especially music.
19. Albany, GA
- 1BR average rent: $794
- 2BR average rent: $733
- Difference: -$61
The city of Albany is in southwestern Georgia. Compared to other cities on this list, it's not located close to a major metropolitan center like Atlanta or Savannah. People flock here for the diverse work opportunities in areas like education and healthcare, as well as the friendly and laid-back southern lifestyle. The cost of living is also a plus. You can find a two-bedroom apartment for $733, saving yourself $732 a year.
18. Olympia, WA
- 1BR average rent: $2,130
- 2BR average rent: $2,064
- Difference: -$66
With Seattle and Tacoma getting pricey, renters are turning their sights on Washington's capital city. Olympia is at the southern end of Puget Sound, along the I-5 corridor. It's a safe, picturesque city that's popular with families and young professionals. As with many Washington cities, outdoor recreation is huge here. Whether it's water sports in Puget Sound or hiking around Mount Rainier, there is great wilderness access.
Olympia is also a regional hub for the arts, with great theater and performance venues. There is a robust local economy, with most jobs being through the State of Washington. Here, a one-bedroom will cost you $2,130. But a two-bedroom will save you $66 a month with an average cost of $2,064.
17. Pontiac, MI
- 1BR average rent: $990
- 2BR average rent: $915
- Difference: -$75
The city of Pontiac first became famous as a hub for automobile manufacturing. It was home to several General Motors factories, as well as being the home city of Pontiac cars. It's part of the Detroit metropolitan area, making it a great choice for commuters.
Renters can live comfortably and affordably in Pontiac while driving into Detroit for work and city life. Here, a two-bedroom apartment goes for an average of $915. This is $75 cheaper than a one-bedroom, which costs $990. That saves you $900 dollars a year.
16. Kokomo, IN
- 1BR average rent: $879
- 2BR average rent: $803
- Difference: -$76
The city of Kokomo offers affordable living and rental options in north-central Indiana. Indianapolis is roughly an hour's drive away, where the average one-bedroom rent runs $1,192. But in Kokomo, you can comfortably afford a two-bedroom for $803. You can easily commute into the capital for work. But Kokomo also has a diverse jobs sector, including automobiles and manufacturing.
The city also has tons of history to discover and has a friendly community and good quality of life.
15. Saint Petersburg, FL
- 1BR average rent: $1,552
- 2BR average rent: $1,467
- Difference: -$85
Soak up the sun and surf living on Florida's gulf coast in Saint Petersburg. Alongside great weather and nearly 361 days of sunshine a year, beach sports and a thriving arts scene, you also get more affordable rent than other major Florida cities. Sure, you can rent a one-bedroom for $1,552. But give yourself the extra space and treat yourself to a two-bedroom for $85 cheaper per month. That comes out to over a thousand dollars in savings each year.
14. Ames, IA
- 1BR average rent: $773
- 2BR average rent: $659
- Difference: -$114
The cozy Midwestern city of Ames is conveniently located just over half an hour from Des Moines. It's easy to drive into the big city for work and fun, but Ames also offers the perfect smaller city life. It's the home of Iowa State University, renowned for its agriculture, vet medicine and engineering programs. As a popular college town, there are tons of recreational activities, from outdoor parks to fun dining to arts and culture. It's also highly affordable, with a two-bedroom apartment only costing around $659 per month.
13. Leesburg, VA
- 1BR average rent: $1,769
- 2BR average rent: $1,648
- Difference: -$121
The historic city of Leesburg is best known for its colonial past and beautifully preserved architecture. The downtown area is even listed on the National Register of Historic Places. For all its historic charms, it's a modern city with a lot to offer, from craft breweries to local shops. Washington, D.C., is also half an hour away, making Leesburg a great choice for commuters.
The average rent in our nation's capital is $2,600 for a one-bedroom. But in Leesburg, a similarly sized apartment will only cost $1,769. But for $121 less, you can upgrade to a bigger two-bedroom and save yourself $1,452 a year.
12. Auburn, AL
- 1BR average rent: $930
- 2BR average rent: $799
- Difference: -$131
If you're looking for a taste of classic Southern living, Auburn is waiting for you. Located in eastern Alabama, Auburn is the home of Auburn University. Living in a college town, you have access to a diverse, upbeat cultural scene. You'll also fall in love with the romantic red brick buildings and historic architecture. With nearby woods and wilderness areas, hikes and outdoor recreation are just a quick drive away.
For a bite of this small southern town life, you'll find two bedrooms available for $799, which is $131 less than a one-bedroom.
11. Fresno, CA
- 1BR average rent: $1,147
- 2BR average rent: $1,006
- Difference: -$141
Fresno is known for many things. It's the gateway to Yosemite National Park. It's located in the heart of California's Central Valley, which is one of the most important agricultural places in the nation. Around Fresno, there are miles of farms and fields yielding almonds, grapes and other fruits and vegetables. The city itself is full of historic architecture, thriving industries and everything from sports to dining to entertainment.
As rental prices in California inch ever higher, Fresno's more affordable rates are also attractive. Two-bedroom apartments run around $1,006, saving renters nearly $1,700 a year over one-bedrooms.
10. Portsmouth, VA
- 1BR average rent: $1,184
- 2BR average rent: $1,043
- Difference: -$141
It's popularly known that Virginia is for lovers. But its smaller cities are also for budget-conscious renters seeking more bang for their buck. Portsmouth is on the banks of the Elizabeth River, where it has an active Navy berth and port. The Navy has strong historical ties to the area and you can see its history at museums and monuments around town. The city is also well-known for its beautiful historic buildings.
With a bustling economy and charming coastal lifestyle, it's a great spot for renters. You can find reasonably priced apartments, with two bedrooms being the more affordable option at $1,043.
9. Bakersfield, CA
- 1BR average rent: $1,104
- 2BR average rent: $955
- Difference: -$149
A two-bedroom apartment in the Central Valley city of Bakersfield will cost you less than a thousand dollars. Living here, there is solid work in the agriculture, oil and energy production industries. The city also offers plenty to do in your downtime, from sports to dining to shopping. Bakersfield also has a strong country music scene.
8. Upland, CA
- 1BR average rent: $2,208
- 2BR average rent: $2,039
- Difference: -$169
The city of Upland sits at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains in San Bernardino County. Part of the Inland Empire, it's part of the broader Los Angeles metropolitan area. But as parts of central L.A. become too expensive, some of the farther-out suburbs like Upland are receiving new attention.
Upload is primarily known for its suburban quality of life and skateboard culture. The price difference between a one-bedroom and a two-bedroom is also stark. You'll save $169 a month, or over $2,000 a year, by living in a two-bedroom. In an expensive metro area, that extra cash goes a long way.
7. Green Bay, WI
- 1BR average rent: $1,191
- 2BR average rent: $1,016
- Difference: -$175
Sports fans will definitely recognize the name Green Bay. This city on the Green Bay of Lake Michigan is home to the famous Green Bay Packers football team. But there's far more to Green Bay than football. It's a popular choice for families and young professionals thanks to the wide range of activities and work opportunities. It's also affordable for a larger Midwestern city.
A spacious two-bedroom is $175 less than a one-bedroom, saving you $2,100 a year.
6. Greenville, NC
- 1BR average rent: $981
- 2BR average rent: $800
- Difference: -$181
Greenville is in eastern North Carolina close to the coast, a fair distance from other major cities like Raleigh–Durham. Offering access to nature and tons of family-friendly activities like sports and visiting museums, it's a great choice for families and professionals. It has robust industries in healthcare and education, as it's the home of East Carolina University.
For such a happening town, it has a great cost of living. A two-bedroom apartment is nearly $200 less than a one-bedroom, with annual savings of $2,172.
5. Waco, TX
- 1BR average rent: $1,007
- 2BR average rent: $768
- Difference: -$239
Waco has been very much in the national spotlight in recent years thanks to the popular HGTV show "Fixer Upper." Hosted by Chip and Joanna Gaines, who run a home renovation and decoration company, their home-makeover show has helped transform Waco's housing market. The attention has breathed fresh life into Waco, with great shopping, dining, entertainment and family-friendly community activities.
But it's still an affordable town. A two-bedroom apartment only costs around $768 compared to $1,007 for a one-bedroom.
4. Syracuse, NY
- 1BR average rent: $1,858
- 2BR average rent: $1,607
- Difference: -$251
Want to save money while living in a bustling city in New York state? If NYC is out of your budget and you want extra space, check out Syracuse. This historic city in central New York is best known for its universities and picturesque cityscapes. If you want access to nature, it's also easy to head to nearby parks for hikes.
For a one-bedroom here, you'll be dishing out $1,858. But you'll save just over $3,000 a year by switching to a two-bedroom.
3. Rancho Cordova, CA
- 1BR average rent: $1,825
- 2BR average rent: $1,561
- Difference: -$264
Rancho Cordova is on the outskirts of California's capital city of Sacramento. With affordable rental rates just a short drive from the city, Rancho Cordova is a popular choice for commuters. Families enjoy it for the laid-back and good quality of life. There are friendly neighborhoods, good school districts and fun outdoorsy activities like nature walks and hikes.
As a great choice for families, the savings for upgrading to a two-bedroom are substantial. Based on average rent, you'll save over $3,100 a year switching to a two-bedroom.
2. Ventura, CA
- 1BR average rent: $4,185
- 2BR average rent: $3,260
- Difference: -$925
Living by the beach in California doesn't have to break the bank. Ventura is a close-knit community that's roughly 45 minutes from Santa Barbara and an hour from Los Angeles. Shopping, dining and entertainment are found along palm-lined streets leading to the ocean. It's not nearly as packed as L.A. while still boasting a happening social scene.
Compared to other coastal cities, it's also far more affordable to have a larger apartment. A two-bedroom apartment costs $3,260 a month here, saving you $925. That adds up to $11,100 in savings per year.
1. Temecula, CA
- 1BR average rent: $3,234
- 2BR average rent: $1,885
- Difference: -$1,349
Topping the list of the 30 cities where it's cheaper to upgrade to a two-bedroom apartment is the city of Temecula. Located in the Temecula Valley, the city is roughly equidistant to San Diego and L.A., requiring about an hour's drive to get to each. Not only does this make it an option for renters, but Temecula is a lovely city to live and work in. It's popular with young professionals and families thanks to the blend of cultural and outdoorsy activities, as well as its overall safety and community-oriented values.
Here, you'll save $1,349 a month living in a two-bedroom, compared to $3,234 for a one-bedroom. By upgrading, you'll save over $16,000 a year!
Cities where it costs the most to upgrade
As you've seen from our list, there are plenty of places to live more affordably in two-bedrooms instead of one-bedrooms. Even if it's the difference of a few dollars a month, that adds up. And in some cities, you would be saving hundreds or thousands of dollars a year. Now it's time to see the reverse. Here are the cities where it would cost you the most to upgrade from a one-bedroom apartment to a two-bedroom.
|Rank||City||2019 Population||1BR Avg Rent (7/2020 - 7/2021)||2BR Avg Rent (7/2020 - 7/2021)||Monthly Difference||Annual Difference|
|2||New York, NY||8,336,817||$3,402||$5,596||$2,194||$26,328|
|3||Santa Monica, CA||90,401||$3,134||$4,868||$1,734||$20,808|
|4||Los Angeles, CA||3,979,576||$2,754||$4,433||$1,679||$20,148|
|7||Palo Alto, CA||65,364||$2,957||$4,290||$1,333||$15,996|
|11||San Francisco, CA||881,549||$3,147||$4,291||$1,144||$13,728|
|12||Jersey City, NJ||262,075||$2,675||$3,810||$1,135||$13,620|
|13||White Plains, NY||58,109||$2,477||$3,596||$1,119||$13,428|
|23||East Orange, NJ||64,367||$1,629||$2,535||$906||$10,872|
|25||San Diego, CA||1,423,851||$2,454||$3,351||$897||$10,764|
Rent prices are based on a one-year rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and Rent.'s multifamily rental property inventory as of July 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.
In this study, we looked at all cities with at least 50,000 people according to U.S. Census Bureau population estimates. Cities with insufficient inventory were excluded.
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.