Budgeting for Rent: What Do I Need to Make to Afford Rent in My City?

Amy Mueller

By Amy Mueller

Feb 01, 2023

We all want a space of our own in a city and neighborhood that fits our lifestyle, and a vision for where we see ourselves living, whether it’s a big city on the East Coast or a nature-surrounded neighborhood in the Pacific Northwest—but with rent prices up in most U.S. cities year-over-year, deciding where you live will likely come down to what you can afford.

While the recommended general rule of thumb for renters is to commit no more than 30 percent of one’s annual income to housing, that’s easier said than done in many major cities like New York City or San Francisco, where annual cost of rent can total at more than $30,000 a year.

Cost of Living

Plus, it’s important to factor in cost of living and your overall financial situation when choosing your future home, as you will be responsible for monthly expenses other than rent. For example, a less dense area may offer more affordable rent, but require a car for transportation. Cost of living, employment opportunities, public transportation, entertainment venues, and diversity in a city are just a few factors other than housing costs to consider when finding your new apartment, and learning about what to expect in your potential new neighborhood can give you a leg up in your apartment search.

Earnings Report

So, cost of living aside, how much do you need to make in gross income per year to afford to live in your dream city?

  • To rent an average one-bedroom apartment in New York City, you’d have to make $148,000 to meet the 30 percent threshold if you are living alone.
  • A six-figure salary would also be necessary to afford the average annual rent of a one-bedroom apartment in San Jose, CA, Boston, MA, and San Francisco, CA.
  • Examples of large cities with a lower price point are San Antonio, TX, Phoenix, AZ, Philadelphia, PA, Houston, TX, and Dallas, TX. Renting in each of these cities would only require incomes between $45,560 and 56,800.
  • On the less expensive end of the spectrum, in Wichita, KS, the required earnings for an average one-bedroom are substantially lower at $27,000.
An example of a one-bedroom apartment at median rent in Houston, TX.

An example of a one-bedroom apartment at median rent in Houston, TX.

City-by-City Rent Breakdown

Didn’t see your city above? In the below report, we highlight the minimum you’d need to earn as a single renter to comfortably afford a one-bedroom apartment in the 50 largest cities in the U.S.

Our calculations below are based on median rents. Keep in mind, there are opportunities to find apartments in the lower or higher price ranges, which will impact the salary needed. You can also reduce the expected costs of monthly rent by moving in a roommate or partner. In that case, calculate the combined income of all co-applicants to determine what you can collectively afford. Want even more specific guidance? Use our rent calculator.

If you want more guidelines on rent prices as you look for your next place, start your search here. At ApartmentAdvisor, we give every listing a deal rating to let you know if an apartment is fairly priced for the market.

Average Salary Needed to Afford Rent in 50 Largest Cities in the U.S.

CityMedian 1-Bed Monthly RentAnnual RentSalary Needed
New York City, NY$3,700.00$44,400.00$148,000.00
San Francisco, CA$2,882.00$34,584.00$115,280.00
Boston, MA$2,751.00$33,012.00$110,040.00
San Jose, CA$2,501.00$30,012.00$100,040.00
San Diego, CA$2,388.00$28,656.00$95,520.00
Miami, FL$2,305.00$27,660.00$92,200.00
Los Angeles, CA$2,295.00$27,540.00$91,800.00
Washington, DC$2,246.00$26,952.00$89,840.00
Seattle, WA$1,900.00$22,800.00$76,000.00
Chicago, IL$1,800.00$21,600.00$72,000.00
Atlanta, GA$1,795.00$21,540.00$71,800.00
Riverside, CA$1,795.00$21,540.00$71,800.00
Honolulu, HI$1,700.00$20,400.00$68,000.00
Denver, CO$1,686.00$20,232.00$67,440.00
Tampa, FL$1,639.00$19,668.00$65,560.00
Nashville, TN$1,591.00$19,092.00$63,640.00
Sacramento, CA$1,561.00$18,732.00$62,440.00
Virginia Beach, VA$1,527.00$18,324.00$61,080.00
Portland, OR$1,500.00$18,000.00$60,000.00
New Orleans, LA$1,500.00$18,000.00$60,000.00
Austin, TX$1,498.00$17,976.00$59,920.00
Dallas, TX$1,420.00$17,040.00$56,800.00
Raleigh, NC$1,411.00$16,932.00$56,440.00
Houston, TX$1,399.00$16,788.00$55,960.00
Philadelphia, PA$1,395.00$16,740.00$55,800.00
Phoenix, AZ$1,385.00$16,620.00$55,400.00
Charlotte, NC$1,380.00$16,560.00$55,200.00
Detroit, MI$1,349.00$16,188.00$53,960.00
Fresno, CA$1,302.00$15,624.00$52,080.00
Baltimore, MD$1,300.00$15,600.00$52,000.00
Jacksonville, FL$1,263.00$15,156.00$50,520.00
Las Vegas, NV$1,257.00$15,084.00$50,280.00
Colorado Springs, CO$1,196.00$14,352.00$47,840.00
Cleveland, OH$1,172.00$14,064.00$46,880.00
Bakersfield, CA$1,148.00$13,776.00$45,920.00
Minneapolis, MN$1,142.00$13,704.00$45,680.00
San Antonio, TX$1,139.00$13,668.00$45,560.00
Kansas City, MO$1,116.00$13,392.00$44,640.00
Columbus, OH$1,073.00$12,876.00$42,920.00
Albuquerque, NM$975.00$11,700.00$39,000.00
Memphis, TN$970.00$11,640.00$38,800.00
Indianapolis, IN$969.00$11,628.00$38,760.00
Tucson, AZ$935.00$11,220.00$37,400.00
Louisville, KY$925.00$11,100.00$37,000.00
Milwaukee, WI$895.00$10,740.00$35,800.00
Omaha, NE$889.00$10,668.00$35,560.00
El Paso, TX$851.00$10,212.00$34,040.00
Tulsa, OK$849.00$10,188.00$33,960.00
Oklahoma City, OK$827.00$9,924.00$33,080.00
Wichita, KS$675.00$8,100.00$27,000.00

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

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