The Best Big Cities For Renters

Do you love big city livin’, but you’re tired of spending 65% of your monthly salary on a 45-year-old studio apartment with a bathroom that feels like it was transplanted from an RV? (Yeah, we’re talking about NYC.) BusinessWeek lists the results of a recent survey of rental prices in cities with populations larger than one million. The best deal is (drum roll): Oklahoma City, with an average rent of $520 a month!

Of course, there are often good reasons why the prices are lower in these cities—we won’t trash Oklahoma City, but having grown up a few hundred miles south of there, we know without a doubt we’d never move back. The most important problem, actually, is that it might be next to impossible to get a comparable salary in your industry there. But there’s always a trade-off, and at least you can have a bedroom that’s not also a living/dining room.

A more attractive choice (to this writer, at least) might be Phoenix, Arizona, which is the fifth largest city in the U.S. but has an average rent of $773. By contrast, New York City’s is $2,825, and San Francisco’s is $1,861.

Florida, Arizona, California, and Nevada, which were tremendously popular during the housing boom, are now facing the most severe downturns. But the housing slump has also hurt rentals in some of these markets because of real estate-related job losses and an oversupply of rental units.

In the Phoenix metro area, which ranked 20th on the list of metros with the lowest rents, traditional apartment landlords are competing for business with investors who are trying to fill the vacant condos they haven’t been able to flip.

“Big Cities, Low Rents” [BusinessWeek]
Slideshow: “Biggest Cities, Lowest Rents 2008” [BusinessWeek]
(Photo: Getty)

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.