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Best Cities for Renters Right Now: Here’s Where Renters Will Have The Easiest Time Finding A Perfect Place

Lilly Milman

By Lilly Milman

Jun 15, 2023


Last month, we published a study highlighting the most competitive rental markets in the U.S. These locations were characterized by low vacancy rates, lack of affordable housing, and high demand — all factors that make it much harder for renters to find an apartment.

So, where are the places that present the best opportunities for renters right now? Where will renters have an easier time finding their perfect place?

To find out, we analyzed 71 of the largest metropolitan areas in the country, calculating an Ease of Renting Score that factored in vacancy rates, apartment price trends, and demand/days on market. We also considered economic opportunity for renters in each metro, analyzing median income, rent burden, and unemployment rates. As explained in our methodology, all of this came together in an overall Opportunity Score for each market, with the highest scores having the most opportunity for renters.

Below, we've highlighted the top 10 metro areas on our list. You can find the full-ranked list of all 71 metro areas we looked at here.

Top 10 Best Opportunity Rental Markets in Q1 2023

RankMetro AreaOpportunity ScoreEase of Renting ScoreEconomic ScoreMedian Rent
1Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR82.2579.5584.96$1,075
2Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD79.4679.2479.68$1,690
3Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY78.1677.3278.99$1,476
4Birmingham-Hoover, AL78.0177.7878.24$1,256
5Kansas City, MO-KS74.0661.3186.8$1,325
6Dayton, OH7457.7590.26$949
7St. Louis, MO-IL71.2958.3884.2$1,239
8Jacksonville, FL69.2262.476.04$1,750
9Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN68.9250.3987.46$1,300
10Toledo, OH68.0255.2980.76$909

Southern States Show Signs of Opportunity

Arkansas is a land of opportunity, according to our calculations. The scored the No. 1 spot on our list of Best Opportunity Rental Markets. Two other southern metro areas — Birmingham–Hoover, AL and Jacksonville, FL — also landed spots in the top 10, at No. 4 and No. 8, respectively.

Little Rock, AR is One of the Easiest Places to Find an Apartment

The Little Rock metro area topped our list with an Opportunity Score of 82.3 — indicating less competitiveness in the rental market, a less severe score on our , higher vacancy rates, and a lower unemployment rate than many other cities on our full list.

Despite rent hikes across the city in recent years, Little Rock still has the fourth lowest median rent for a one-bedroom apartment on our list at $1,075 per month — and a hypothetical renter earning the median income would be spending a little over a third of their income on a one-bedroom apartment according to our Rent Burden Index.

However, based on our data, it should still be easier to rent an apartment in the Little Rock metro area than in many other cities. At 11.2% (Q1 US Census), the vacancy rate is higher here than in most other markets, which means there’s ample availability. And the median rent price is $425 below the national median of $1500. Southern cities also tend to have a lower cost of living than northern cities, and Little Rock is no exception.

How our top 10 Best Opportunity Rental Markets compare to the national median in terms of monthly rent price for a one-bedroom apartment.How our top 10 Best Opportunity Rental Markets compare to the national median in terms of monthly rent price for a one-bedroom apartment.

Ohio Offers the Most Opportunity Rental Markets

Ohio is the only state with two of the top 10 Best Opportunity Rental Markets on our list, and four in the top 20. Many of Ohio’s metro areas offer relatively high median incomes and rent prices that are lower than the majority of the country, making it an attractive state for renters right now.

Ohio Renters are Less Rent Burdened

Low rents and comparatively high median incomes make Ohio one of the least rent-burdened states on our list. Four of the top five metro areas with the lowest median rent prices for one-bedroom apartments on our list are in Ohio — and three of those metro areas (Toledo, Dayton, and Akron, OH) have a median rent price below $1,000 a month for one-bedroom apartment — making them some of the best cities to get a good bang for your buck as a renter. These same three markets also clock in at the top five lowest scores on our Rent Burden Index. In Dayton — No. 6 on our list — renters making the nonfamily median income would only need to spend 30% of their gross income on a one-bedroom apartment at the median price, making it the most affordable market on our list. Toledo is not far behind, at 31% for the same metric. While they were not in our top 10 list of Best Opportunity Rental Markets, Akron, Cleveland–Elyria, and Columbus all also have a Rent Burden Index score of 34% — the fourth lowest figure on our list.

In many Ohio markets, renters making the median nonfamily household income would only need to spend about a third of their gross earnings on rent for a one-bedroom apartment based on our data.In many Ohio markets, renters making the median nonfamily household income would only need to spend about a third of their gross earnings on rent for a one-bedroom apartment based on our data.

Two Coastal Cities Make the Top 10

Coastal cities tend to have strong job markets, be densely populated and popular for renters, and expensive — which is a subject we’ve covered before. In our Most Competitive Rental Markets report, the majority of the markets in our top 10 list were coastal cities. However, the has snagged the No. 2 spot, while Jacksonville, FL came in at No. 8 for Best Opportunity Rental Markets. The next highest coastal metro area on the list of Best Opportunity Rental Markets is Portland–Vancouver–Hillsboro, OR–WA at No. 37.

Baltimore is One of the Least Competitive Rental Markets in the Country

The Baltimore metro area is the second least competitive market on our list, due to a comparatively high vacancy rate of 12.8% and a relatively high average time on market. While the median rent price for a one-bedroom apartment is above the national median at $1,690 a month, the median nonfamily income is also high at $52,281 — creating a Rent Burden Index score on the lower end of our list. This means that an individual making the median income and renting a one-bedroom apartment alone would hypothetically spend 39% of their gross income on rent.

When comparing our Most Competitive Rental Markets to our Best Opportunity Rental Markets, there is not much geographic overlap. Coastal cities tend to be more competitive — except for the Baltimore, MD and Jacksonville, FL metro areas, which are on our top 10 Best Opportunity Rental Markets list.When comparing our Most Competitive Rental Markets to our Best Opportunity Rental Markets, there is not much geographic overlap. Coastal cities tend to be more competitive — except for the Baltimore, MD and Jacksonville, FL metro areas, which are on our top 10 Best Opportunity Rental Markets list.

The Full List

Below is the full-ranked list of all 71 cities we analyzed.

The Best Opportunity Rental Markets in Q1 2023

RankMetro AreaOpportunity ScoreEase of Renting ScoreEconomic ScoreMedian Rent
1Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR82.2579.5584.96$1,075
2Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD79.4679.2479.68$1,690
3Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY78.1677.3278.99$1,476
4Birmingham-Hoover, AL78.0177.7878.24$1,256
5Kansas City, MO-KS74.0661.3186.8$1,325
6Dayton, OH7457.7590.26$949
7St. Louis, MO-IL71.2958.3884.2$1,239
8Jacksonville, FL69.2262.476.04$1,750
9Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN68.9250.3987.46$1,300
10Toledo, OH68.0255.2980.76$909
11Salt Lake City, UT67.9752.2383.72$1,728
12Oklahoma City, OK67.7560.6574.85$1,318
13Akron, OH67.6250.1685.07$995
14Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, TN67.2558.2376.27$1,892
15Dallas-Ft. Worth-Arlington, TX67.1967.9566.43$2,045
16Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI66.386963.76$1,390
17Columbus, OH66.2246.5585.89$1,346
18San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX65.3166.1464.48$1,695
19Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA64.8859.9569.81$1,995
20Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX64.7666.1763.35$1,605
21Tulsa, OK64.7159.0670.36$1,295
22Austin-Round Rock, TX64.4250.9977.85$1,950
23Richmond, VA62.8950.5875.2$1,514
24Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI62.3333.2291.43$1,164
25Raleigh, NC62.2151.0673.36$1,850
26Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA61.527.2695.75$1,157
27Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN60.438.5782.24$1,300
28Greensboro-High Point, NC60.2748.3472.21$1,285
29Pittsburgh, PA59.8344.8874.79$1,250
30Baton Rouge, LA59.7762.0857.46$1,400
31Cleveland-Elyria, OH59.4840.4778.49$1,095
32Grand Rapids-Wyoming, MI59.3138.9579.66$1,498
33Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville, SC58.353.6262.99$2,101
34Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ57.9648.8667.07$2,095
35Memphis, TN-AR-MS57.550.4964.51$1,250
36Syracuse, NY57.3640.4174.31$1,275
37Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA57.2141.2473.19$1,789
38Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC57.0637.9376.19$1,665
39Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ56.8947.6266.17$1,595
40Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO56.237.3575.06$2,096
41Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL55.3256.6653.98$2,161
42Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN55.2526.1984.31$1,200
43Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA54.4131.4777.35$2,106
44Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT54.2436.9971.49$1,587
45North Port-Bradenton-Sarasota, FL53.6267.0940.16$2,800
46Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NY53.3133.1973.43$1,200
47Rochester, NY52.9727.2378.7$1,195
48Albuquerque, NM52.6439.0266.26$1,500
49Knoxville, TN52.3340.0564.61$1,637
50Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade, CA51.8743.9659.79$2,147
51Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV51.8523.8879.82$2,300
52Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC51.6932.6270.75$1,797
53San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA51.2942.7559.84$2,934
54San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA50.727.5873.81$3,100
55Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI49.5237.9661.07$1,800
56Columbia, SC46.9527.6166.29$1,462
57Urban Honolulu, HI44.7636.0653.47$2,423
58Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL44.7157.6731.76$2,600
59Providence-Warwick, RI-MA42.8935.1750.6$1,950
60Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV42.3354.2130.44$1,975
61Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH41.7829.1554.42$3,000
62Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL41.6334.249.06$2,150
63Fresno, CA40.8337.2444.42$1,800
64Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT40.6530.6350.67$2,564
65New Haven-Milford, CT40.6531.5449.76$1,800
66Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL39.1554.224.1$2,900
67Worcester, MA37.6418.8956.4$1,773
68San Diego-Carlsbad, CA36.0625.5546.57$2,760
69Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA35.1644.625.73$2,595
70Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA34.8835.8333.92$2,900
71New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA33.0837.2628.89$2,895

Methodology

Sample

For this report, we analyzed 71 of the most populated metro areas (MSAs) in the U.S. (per the U.S. Census Bureau) for which all required data was available.

Metrics and Data Sources

The metrics used to create the “Economic Score” were the unemployment rate and a Rent Burden Index. We calculated this score using a weighted average of the unemployment rate of an MSA (40%) and the Rent Burden Index (60%).

The “Rent Burden Index” is meant to estimate the rent burden for a hypothetical individual renting a one-bedroom apartment in the MSA. It was calculated by comparing nonfamily household median incomes and median one-bedroom monthly rent prices in each MSA.

In a previous report, we created a “Competitive Score” using quarterly vacancy rates, the estimated average time on market of apartments in the MSAs, and the median cost per square foot of an apartment in the MSA. To learn more about how we calculated the Competitive Score, read the full methodology of the Most Competitive Rental Markets report here. The "Ease of Renting Score" is the inverted Competitive Score.

The vacancy rates, unemployment rates, and nonfamily household median income data came from the U.S. Census Bureau. Time on market, cost per square foot, and median monthly one-bedroom rent price data came from ApartmentAdvisor. We used a min/max data normalization approach when computing scores.

Ranking

To compute the “Opportunity Score,” we combined the Ease of Renting Score and the Economic Score, weighted equally.

Notes About the Data

For more information about this study, please contact pr@apartmentadvisor.com.

We rate and sort every listing based on fair market rent.

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