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The 11 Most Affordable Cities for Renters in America

Happy renter
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Housing costs have climbed sky-high in recent years, for both homebuyers and renters. In fact, rents have jumped by as much as 50% in some markets.

But in a handful of places, rents remain relatively affordable, at least compared with more high-flying cities.

Recently, Rent.com scoured the country to find the cities with populations of more than 50,000 that have the most affordable rents.

If you suddenly feel desperate to find bargain housing, check out these communities.

Des Moines, Iowa

Des Moines, Iowa
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City’s average rent for a:

  • Studio: $904 per month
  • One-bedroom: $1,221 per month
  • Two-bedroom: $1,393 per month

Polk County — in which Des Moines resides — is among the largest counties with populations of less than 500,000 where renting is more affordable than buying, according to an ATTOM Data Solutions report from earlier this year.

Des Moines is Iowa’s capital city and home to the state fairgrounds.

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Albuquerque homes
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City’s average rent for a:

  • Studio: $923 per month
  • One-bedroom: $1,165 per month
  • Two-bedroom: $1,412 per month

In a state known as “the Land of Enchantment,” Albuquerque rents are cheaper than in many other places across the country, but they are still climbing.

In fact, the home of the famous annual hot air balloon festival saw rents jump 23% from November 2020 to November 2021.

Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Winston-Salem, North Carolina
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City’s average rent for a:

  • Studio: $1,026 per month
  • One-bedroom: $1,123 per month
  • Two-bedroom: $1,373 per month

Rents may be more affordable in Winston-Salem, but that doesn’t mean investment properties are popular with homeowners.

The Wall Street Journal reports that in some of the region’s neighborhoods, residents are banding together to try to block companies from buying up single-family homes. They fear renters are making their neighborhoods less attractive. According to the WSJ:

“In Walkertown, N.C., near Winston-Salem, members of the Whitehall Village Master Homeowners Association are trying to amend their covenants to require new buyers to live in a home or leave it vacant for six months before they can rent it out. This move, they believe, would effectively prevent investors from buying any more houses.”

Louisville, Kentucky

A historic district of Louisville, Kentucky
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City’s average rent for a:

  • Studio: $1,011 per month
  • One-bedroom: $1,179 per month
  • Two-bedroom: $1,324 per month

It’s cheaper to live in Louisville, and young people appear to be catching on to that fact.

Rent.com says the city “has experienced a renaissance among younger crowds” and that new restaurants and live music spots are popping up all over.

Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis, Tennessee
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City’s average rent for a:

  • Studio: $1,016 per month
  • One-bedroom: $1,138 per month
  • Two-bedroom: $1,201 per month

Even though your rental dollar goes further in Memphis, it still might be better to buy a home in the metro on the Mississippi River.

Ksenia Potapov, an economist at First American, says the firm’s research indicates that Memphis and Pittsburgh are two cities where first-time homebuyers are likely to find deals that make owning better than renting.

Indianapolis, Indiana

Indianapolis, Indiana
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City’s average rent for a:

  • Studio: $1,063 per month
  • One-bedroom: $1,072 per month
  • Two-bedroom: $1,298 per month

This city is “oft-overlooked” when people think of Midwestern cities. That is a mistake, however, as Rent.com says Indianapolis is a great place to live.

While studio units can be a bit pricey, Rent.com says you can score good deals on two-bedroom apartments.

San Antonio, Texas

San Antonio in winter
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City’s average rent for a:

  • Studio: $750 per month
  • One-bedroom: $1,078 per month
  • Two-bedroom: $1,304 per month

San Antonio is the largest city to make the top 10 on the Rent.com list. Given that reality, it’s surprisingly affordable.

A one-bedroom apartment is available for just a little more than $1,000 a month. Renters in more expensive cities — many of them smaller than San Antonio — are green with envy.

Omaha, Nebraska

Omaha, Nebraska
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City’s average rent for a:

  • Studio: $827 per month
  • One-bedroom: $983 per month
  • Two-bedroom: $1,343 per month

Omaha is an overlooked gem, with neighborhoods such as the revitalized historic Blackstone District representing “a steal” of a deal for renters, according to real estate industry website Inman.

However, rents are climbing, particularly for bigger units that have become more popular during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

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City’s average rent for a:

  • Studio: $586 per month
  • One-bedroom: $1,056 per month
  • Two-bedroom: $1,088 per month

Those looking for good deals on a two-bedroom apartment should consider this Louisiana state capital city. A recent report notes that Baton Rouge was among the few places in the country where the cost of renting such an apartment actually fell year over year.

Fargo, North Dakota

Downtown Fargo.
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City’s average rent for a:

  • Studio: $626 per month
  • One-bedroom: $826 per month
  • Two-bedroom: $936 per month

Sure, it’s cold in this Northern city. But Fargo is also a hotspot for those looking for bargain rental costs.

Rent.com notes that Fargo has the second-cheapest costs for renters in the U.S. among cities that qualify for this list. That honor also cuts across all apartment types.

Grand Forks, North Dakota

University of North Dakota at Grand Forks
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City’s average rent for a:

  • Studio: $676 per month
  • One-bedroom: $800 per month
  • Two-bedroom: $890 per month

Another North Dakota town edges out Fargo for the title of most affordable place for renters.

Grand Forks has the cheapest prices for one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments on this list. But if you think Fargo is cold, hold on to your puffer jacket as you head north. An hour south of the Canadian border, Grand Forks has average winter lows that regularly dip below zero degrees.

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