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Renters Get the Most Bang for Their Buck in These U.S. Cities, a New Study Says

With more home shoppers opting to rent instead of buy, you might be wondering which U.S. cities get you the most bang for your buck.

A new study from RentCafe analyzed 189 metros across the country and ranked the top 30 based on how far a renter’s paycheck will go. The report looked at median income, average rent costs, and average prices for basic expenses including food, utilities, healthcare, and transportation. The results are not what some might expect, with some of the most affordable cities having rents far above the national average monthly rent of $1,702.

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“To obtain the ratios used in the score for each category in each city, we calculated the disposable income left after paying the monthly rent,” the report explained. “We then aggregated the price per unit for each of the cost of living products and services and calculated the ratio between income and total cost per category.”

Topping the chart was Sunnyvale, California. Here, the average monthly rent clocks in at $3,103, nearly twice the national average. The Bay Area is notoriously expensive; however, renters in the Silicon Valley community can afford the higher rents because they earn a median household income of $145,723—the highest annual wages in the U.S. and roughly three times the national median income of $49,201.

new york city rental prices
New Yorkers spend a higher percentage of their income on rent compared to the rest of the country.

In second place was the little-known city of Surprise, Arizona, in the suburbs of Phoenix, where the average monthly rent is $1,781 and the median annual income is $86,236. “This is where the median income could cover four average monthly rents—a rarity among all 189 cities we analyzed (and possible in only five other locations),” the report noted. In the third spot was Arlington, Virginia, followed by Bethesda, Maryland, and Alexandria, Virginia.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the spectrum, the analysis found that renters in the Northeast are spending a higher percentage of their income on rent each month than those in Silicon Valley, for example. Comparing Beantown’s overall affordability to Sunnyvale, the report noted that “Boston had similar prices for basic necessities ($1,346 per month) and a slightly higher monthly rent ($3,911), but its lower annual income of just less than $61,000 would make budgeting more challenging for renters.”

New York ranked a dismal 178th on the list, with those living in Manhattan having a particularly difficult time striking an affordable balance between income and expenses. Per the study, there was only about a $500 difference between renters monthly income ($6,477) and the total amount of money being splashed out on rent and basic necessities ($5,965).

The good news for some of the higher-cost areas, however, is that rents across the country are on a steady decline, and the market seems to be cooling thanks to a slew of new inventory.

Check out the top 30 U.S. cities for renters below:

Rank

City

Score

Renter Household Income

Monthly Rent

Utilities

Food

Healthcare

Transportation

Goods and Services

Sunnyvale, CA

93.8393.83

$145,723

$3,013

$386

$90

$516

$70

$322

Surprise, AZ

84.5784.57

$86,236

$1,781

$452

$59

$269

$41

$183

Arlington, VA

73.0173.01

$102,710

$2,494

$362

$75

$408

$67

$240

Bethesda, MD

68.2868.28

$99,315

$2,684

$404

$73

$298

$66

$252

Alexandria, VA

67.6267.62

$89,845

$2,068

$363

$73

$395

$86

$257

Westminster, CO

66.5266.52

$75,841

$1,864

$307

$58

$289

$75

$212

Scottsdale, AZ

64.2264.22

$82,865

$2,084

$321

$65

$377

$64

$259

Round Rock, TX

63.2963.29

$68,517

$1,574

$397

$55

$343

$52

$211

Plano, TX

61.3961.39

$76,824

$1,786

$429

$64

$413

$67

$231

Broken Arrow, OK

59.4859.48

$54,594

$1,117

$357

$62

$335

$58

$204

Conway, AR

59.4359.43

$45,625

$855

$357

$60

$299

$56

$191

Cedar Park, TX

58.7758.77

$66,479

$1,657

$405

$55

$295

$56

$218

San Francisco, CA

55.0555.05

$109,274

$3,297

$476

$84

$489

$81

$319

Sioux Falls, SD

54.5854.58

$48,819

$1,045

$321

$64

$408

$47

$184

Lawton, OK

53.6353.63

$42,864

$830

$354

$63

$404

$61

$187

Austin, TX

53.5553.55

$66,681

$1,784

$358

$59

$368

$57

$231

San Jose, CA

50.9850.98

$92,952

$2,974

$440

$74

$446

$68

$249

Durham, NC

50.8250.82

$60,227

$1,578

$332

$69

$424

$47

$209

Allen, TX

50.5450.54

$62,814

$1,737

$425

$59

$366

$59

$167

Bloomington, IL

49.8749.87

$48,233

$1,093

$311

$68

$405

$50

$242

Greenville, SC

49.1249.12

$55,283

$1,396

$363

$66

$350

$59

$214

Columbus, OH

48.8348.83

$48,803

$1,214

$349

$66

$277

$46

$225

Seattle, WA

48.2348.23

$79,285

$2,252

$390

$80

$524

$73

$315

Murfreesboro, TN

46.9146.91

$53,544

$1,544

$326

$62

$295

$41

$204

Tulsa, OK

46.8246.82

$40,603

$927

$355

$64

$319

$48

$194

Lake Charles, LA

46.7146.71

$42,808

$996

$297

$64

$346

$66

$211

Vancouver, WA

46.4446.44

$62,288

$1,711

$362

$69

$401

$71

$254

Ogden, UT

46.4146.41

$50,311

$1,271

$348

$65

$319

$63

$251

Denver, CO

46.0946.09

$64,681

$1,975

$331

$63

$354

$66

$239

Jacksonville, NC

46.0446.04

$49,707

$1,181

$450

$67

$397

$56

$240

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