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How Much Space Can I Afford to Rent with My Salary?

Lilly Milman

By Lilly Milman

Aug 28, 2023


We’ve made it easy to calculate how much rent you can afford to pay each month using our rent calculator (which helps you consider monthly income, as well as recurring bills like credit card and student loan payments and other monthly expenses). With this article, we take it a step further. Now, we’re seeking to help you answer the question: How much space can I get with that number?

We calculated how much space you can afford to rent in the largest cities in the U.S. at different salaries, using the general rule of thumb that one should not spend over 30% of their gross income on rent to define “affordability.” To learn more about what size apartment you can afford to rent in your city, read on.

How much apartment can I afford to rent on a $50K annual salary?

How much space you’ll be able to rent will, as always, depend on your city and its rental market. We break down what you can expect to afford on a $50K a year salary if you are not splitting rent with any roommates. This does not take into account other living expenses like utility costs, renters insurance, or the general cost of living of a city. 

Where can I afford a 2-bedroom apartment on a $50K annual salary?

Looking at our data for the median cost per square foot of the largest U.S. cities, we discovered that there are cities across the U.S. where you can afford a median-sized two-bedroom apartment while earning an annual gross salary of $50,000.

The Midwest

  • In Wichita, KS, which is consistently ranked as the cheapest large city to rent an apartment on our national rent report, the median cost per square foot for a two-bedroom apartment is $0.94. This means that you can afford to rent up to 1,337 square feet on a $50K annual salary. We found that the median area of a 2-bedroom apartment in Wichita is 884 square feet — so, with a $50K annual salary, you should be able to comfortably rent one alone. This is the only city on our list with a median cost per square foot for a two-bed that is below $1.
  • Other midwestern cities where you can comfortably afford to rent a two-bedroom apartment alone on a $50K salary include: Cleveland, OH; Sioux Falls, SD; Des Moines, IA; Indianapolis, IN; Detroit, MI; St. Louis, MO; and Milwaukee, WI. Out of these cities, you will get the best bang for your buck in Oklahoma City, where the median cost per square foot for a two-bedroom apartment is $1.11 and the average size of a two-bedroom apartment is 1,009 square feet.

The Southwest

  • In Albuquerque, NM, the median area of a two-bedroom apartment is 900 square feet, while the median cost per square foot for a two-bedroom apartment is $1.39. According to our calculations, you can comfortably afford to rent 899 square feet on an annual $50K salary — so if this is your income, you should be able to rent a smaller two-bedroom apartment in this city.
  • Meanwhile, in Tucson, AZ, a person earning $50K per year annually can comfortably afford to rent an apartment up to 893 square feet. The median area of a two-bedroom apartment in Tucson is 860 square feet and the median cost per square foot is $1.40.

Where Else?

  • In the South-Central region, Oklahoma City, OK is where a $50K annual salary will take you the farthest. With a median cost per square foot of $1.12 for a two-bedroom apartment, you can comfortably rent up to 1,116 square feet. Meanwhile, the median area of a two-bedroom apartment is 1,009 square feet.
  • In the Southeast, Birmingham, AL is the only city on our list where a person earning $50K per year can afford a two-bedroom apartment alone. At $1.31 per square foot for a two-bed, you would be able to rent 954 square feet — meaning that you should be more than able to rent a two-bedroom with the median average area of 864 square feet.
  • In the Northeast, Rochester, NY is the only city on our list where you can comfortably rent a two-bedroom apartment alone on a $50K annual salary. The median cost per square foot for a two-bedroom apartment in Rochester is $1.25, while the median area of such an apartment is 965 square feet. If you are earning $50K per year in this city, you can comfortably rent up to 1,000 square feet.

Where can I afford a 1-bedroom apartment on a $50K annual salary 

If you are earning $50K per year annually, you can afford a one-bedroom apartment in all of the same cities where you can afford a two-bedroom apartment (as explained in the section above). However, there are a also few additional cities where you would be able to rent a one-bedroom apartment on this salary:

  • In San Antonio, TX, where the median cost per square foot for a one-bedroom apartment is $1.65, you can comfortably afford to rent an apartment up to 758 square feet while earning $50K per year. Meanwhile, the median area of a one-bedroom in this city is 700 square feet.
  • In Spokane, WA, where the apartments are smaller (with a median area of 600 square feet) and the price is a little higher (at $1.74 per square foot for a one-bed), you can rent up to 718 feet comfortably.
  • Finally, in Columbus, OH, you can comfortably rent up to 698 square feet, as the median cost per square foot for a one-bed is $1.79. The median area for a one-bedroom apartment in this city is 684 square feet.

Where can I afford a studio apartment on a $50K annual salary?

If you are looking at studio apartments rather than one- or two-bedroom apartments, then Las Vegas, NV is the only additional city where you’ll be able to comfortably rent an apartment of the median area alone on a $50K annual salary. With a median cost per square foot of $1.84 for a studio apartment, you’d be able to rent up to 679 square feet. While the median area of a studio apartment in Las Vegas is 682, you’d likely still be able to find a studio around the median size within your budget.

How much rent can I afford to pay?

As mentioned above, for housing to be considered “affordable,” one must not be spending more than 30% of their income on housing costs. However, depending on your financial situation, this may not be feasible without one or multiple roommates in many competitive rental markets. If you plan on spending more than 30% of your gross income on your rent budget, make sure to take into account other expenses associated with moving to a new apartment. For example, make sure you will be able to afford to pay for first and last month’s rent payments, as well as a security deposit, upfront. Also factor in how your rent to income ratio will affect the rest of your monthly budget: Will you be able to pay for your transportation costs or car payments? What about non-essentials, like entertainment costs?

To figure out exactly how much you should be paying in rent, use our Rent Calculator.

City-by-City Breakdown

Didn’t see your city above? In the below report, we highlight how much space you can afford to rent in 51 of the largest cities by population in the U.S., for which we had adequate inventory, at three different salaries.

Our calculations below are based on the median cost per square foot for a one-bedroom apartment. Keep in mind, there are opportunities to find apartments in the lower or higher price ranges. 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 go apartment hunting, start your apartment search here. At ApartmentAdvisor, we give every listing a deal rating to let you know if an apartment is fairly priced for the market. 

How Much Space You Can Comfortably Rent at a $40K, $50K, or $60K Salary in 51 U.S. Cities

CityMedian Cost Per Square Foot of 1-BedSq. Ft. You Can Afford at $40K SalarySq. Ft. You Can Afford at $50K SalarySq. Ft. You Can Afford at $60K SalaryMedian Area of 1-Bed in Sq. Ft.
Albuquerque, NM$1.568019621,122639
Anchorage, AK$2.18573688803600
Atlanta, GA$2.35532638745756
Austin, TX$2.22563676788700
Baltimore, MD$2.09598718837660
Birmingham, AL$1.498391,0071,174661
Boise, ID$2.08601721841650
Boston, MA$4.57274328383660
Charlotte, NC$1.99628754879739
Chicago, IL$2.87436523610708
Cleveland, OH$1.77706847989700
Colorado Springs, CO$1.94644773902694
Columbus, OH$1.79698838978684
Dallas, TX$2.00625750875716
Denver, CO$2.57486584681708
Des Moines, IA$1.558069681,129650
Detroit, MI$1.94644773902700
Honolulu, HI$3.45362435507525
Houston, TX$1.757148571,000750
Indianapolis, IN$1.428801,0561,232700
Jacksonville, FL$1.707358821,029746
Kansas City, MO$1.468561,0271,199760
Las Vegas, NV$1.84679815951682
Los Angeles, CA$3.31378453529700
Madison, WI$2.22563676788721
Miami, FL$3.69339407474694
Milwaukee, WI$1.91654785916700
Minneapolis, MN$1.84679815951650
Nashville, TN$2.33536644751737
New York City, NY$7.04178213249690
Oklahoma City, OK$1.299691,1631,357711
Omaha, NE$1.428801,0561,232700
Philadelphia, PA$2.33536644751650
Phoenix, AZ$2.06607728850690
Pittsburgh, PA$1.96638765893697
Portland, OR$2.48504605706624
Raleigh, NC$1.96638765893770
Reno, NV$2.00625750875635
Richmond, VA$2.08601721841655
Rochester, NY$1.577969551,115650
San Antonio, TX$1.657589091,061700
San Diego, CA$3.87323388452625
San Francisco, CA$4.50278333389678
Seattle, WA$3.15397476556643
Sioux Falls, SD$1.349331,1191,306700
Spokane, WA$1.747188621,006600
St. Louis, MO$1.309621,1541,346740
Tucson, AZ$1.667539041,054590
Washington, DC$3.47360432504700
Wichita, KS$1.151,0871,3041,522590

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