Top 25 Most (and Least) Expensive American Cities to Rent an Apartment

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Paying the rent is usually one of the most expensive bills due each month. But some people are spending a lot more than others on rent, as our latest map of the most expensive and cheapest cities to rent an apartment in the U.S. demonstrates.

The cheapest and most expensive cities to rent an apartment in the us
  • New York City is the most expensive city in the country to rent a typical 2-bedroom apartment, costing $4,927 per month.
  • Wichita, KS is the cheapest American city where it runs just $763, or about 15% as much as New York City.
  • Some of the most expensive and cheapest markets aren’t actually very far from each other. Fresno and San Francisco are only a few hours’ drive, but the cost to rent an apartment is wildly different ($942 vs. $4,084, respectively).
  • The price difference in rents between the most expensive and cheapest cities is enormous. Many remote workers will likely end up with more money at the end of the month even if companies pay less based on local costs of living.

We found the data for our latest map thanks to the February 2021 Rent Report from Apartment Guide. The researchers used 2019 US Census population estimates to determine the top urban areas. Apartment prices are based on Apartment Guide and’s multifamily rental property inventory. We plotted a spike for each of the top 25 cheapest and 25 most expensive cities for renting an average 2-bedroom apartment. The size of the spike corresponds to the price for rent, creating a snapshot of the rental market across the U.S.

Top 10 Most Expensive U.S. Cities for Renting an Apartment

City State Average Monthly Rent (2021)
1. New York NY $4,927
2. Boston MA $4,728
3. Los Angeles CA $4,514
4. San Francisco CA $4,084
5. Jersey City NJ $3,821
6. Oakland CA $3,305
7. San Diego CA $3,232
8. Chicago IL $3,065
9. San Jose CA $3,034
10. Scottsdale AZ $3,020
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See the top 25 here.

Top 10 Cheapest U.S. Cities for Renting an Apartment

City State Average Monthly Rent (2021)
1. Wichita KS $763
2. Lubbock TX $875
3. Tulsa OK $898
4. Fresno CA $942
5. Oklahoma City OK $944
6. Toledo OH $949
7. Greensboro NC $1,026
8. Gilbert AZ $1,029
9. Tucson AZ $1,044
10. Fort Wayn IN $1,077

See the top 25 here.

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Our map illustrates the enormous price difference between the most expensive and cheapest markets for being a renter. As you might expect, the most expensive markets tend to be on the coasts in big cities, while the cheapest are generally scattered across the country’s interior. At one end of the price scale, it costs almost $5,000 just to rent an apartment in New York City. Compare that to the opposite end of the spectrum, where it runs only $763 for a two-bedroom apartment in Wichita, KS. Rent in Wichita is only about 15% as much as in New York City. Over the course of an entire year, that represents a total cost difference of over $49,000.

But things get more interesting when the most expensive and cheapest rental markets are located relatively close to each other. For example, in Fresno, CA it only runs about $942 for the typical 2-bedroom apartment. Some of the most expensive rental markets in the country are only a few hours away, including San Francisco ($4,084) and Oakland ($3,305). Certainly Fresno isn’t on the coast, but neither are a lot of expensive apartments in San Francisco. Immediate proximity to major high-paying emplyers is obviously a major driver of rental costs.

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There are lots of ways to explain the disparity between rent costs across US cities. For starters, New York, Boston and Los Angeles are a lot more crowded than Wichita, Lubbock or Tulsa. They are also home to several major employers with high-paying jobs and lots of urban amenities. But the price differential is also why a lot of people are leaving expensive coastal markets in favor of cheaper places with lower costs of living. Last year the rental market in San Francisco actually saw prices decline for the first time in recent memory. And many remote workers are stating they would prefer to stay remote indefinitely, even after the coronavirus pandemic ends. The price differentials in our map are so huge, that even if companies determine they can lower pay based on where workers choose to live, the savings from cheaper rent can outweigh any reduction in wages. Workers end up better off in the end.

If you are renting an apartment, it’s a smart idea to carry retner’s insurance. Check out our renter’s insurance cost guide to get started today.


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