Unfortunately for big-city dreamers, living in some of the most highly-hyped American cities, like New York; The Angels; or Washington, DC, will come at a high price. Sometimes it can seem like you have to choose between comfortably paying your rent and living in a place with ample job opportunities and things to do.
But that is not always the case. You may be lucky to get a cheap apartment in an expensive area. Or, you can look for areas that have it all: affordable housing options, a dynamic economy with an influx of businesses, and a healthy physical environment.
Most of those areas seem to be in the south. Charleston, South Carolina, leads the ranking as the best city for renters in metrics that consider both cost and living experience, according to a new RentCafe studio. In fact, nine of the top 10 cities ranked by RentCafe are located in the South, including four cities in Texas.
Cost may be the most important factor when deciding where you want to live, but it shouldn’t be the only consideration. RentCafe rated 136 locations using 20 metrics divided into three categories (cost of living, local economy, and quality of life) to determine the best overall locations for renters.
Here’s a closer look at some of the metrics included in each category:
- Cost of living: Includes local rental prices, grocery and utility costs, average apartment size, and occupancy rates.
- local economy: Includes unemployment rate and employment growth.
- Quality of life: Includes apartment locations, school quality, and average commute times.
While cost of living metrics carried the most weight, the best places for renters perform relatively well across all categories.
If you’re looking for an affordable place to rent with strong career growth opportunities and a high quality of life, check out RentCafe’s 10 Best Places.
- Charleston, South Carolina
- plano, texas
- Scottsdale, Arizona
- Raleigh, North Carolina
- round rock, texas
- austin, texas
- Charlotte, North Carolina
- Conroe, Texas
- Arlington, Virginia
Charleston ranks first due primarily to its relatively low cost of living and high quality of apartments, according to RentCafe.
Apartments in South Carolina’s largest city cost an average of $1,938 a month, slightly more than the national average of around $1,700, according to RentCafe. However, the average Charleston apartment is larger, averaging 965 square feet, compared to 897 square feet nationwide.
When it comes to its local economy, Charleston boasts an unemployment rate of 3.4%, just below the national rate of 3.7%.
You could do better in terms of quality of life, with only around 16% of apartments located in primary locations, as defined by the Yardi Matrixwhich considers the educational level, employment and income of the local population, as well as attributes such as proximity to commercial development and the availability of public transportation.
Why Renters May Want to ‘Mess with Texas’
Four Texas cities (Plano, Round Rock, Austin and Conroe) made the top 10 in RentCafe’s rankings, primarily due to high housing cost scores.
Plano, a suburb of Dallas, ranks second overall, primarily due to its local economy and quality of life scores. Its median rental price of $1,813 is higher than the national average, but apartments in Plano are largely well located, with nearly 70% in prime locations.
Renters in Plano earn a median annual salary of $73,930, which is more than the other top-ranked Texas cities.
Round Rock, Austin, and Conroe, ranked sixth, seventh, and ninth, respectively, all scored well in the cost of living category, with Conroe earning the best housing cost score of any ranked place. Its median rent of just $1,364 is hard to beat.
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