10 Big U.S. Cities With the Cheapest Apartment Rents

Apartment dwellers pay less than the national average in these cities with the cheapest rent.

Cities With the Cheapest rent
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Big cities with cheap rents might sound like a contradiction in terms, but apartment dwellers really can find bargains in some of the nation's largest urban areas. 

Not that it's easy. 

The housing market might be cooling off a bit these days, but home prices are still substantially higher than they were a year ago. Rents have risen, too, and at an even faster pace. 

Put it all together and the perennial question of renting vs buying is as pressing as ever. 

It's an especially tough conundrum for retirees wishing to relocate, young professionals looking to put down roots, or would-be remote workers. Heck, it's an issue for anyone who doesn't have quite the financial wherewithal to come up with a down payment – to say nothing of closing costs, insurance payments, property taxes, maintenance expenditures … the list of outlays goes on and on.

But first things first. The housing market remains tough. Despite entering a downtrend over the summer of 2022, home prices are still up 3.8% on a year-over-year basis, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index (opens in new tab).

Mortgage rates have spiked even more. The average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (opens in new tab) sits well above 6%, per Freddie Mac. That's up from less than 5% around this time last year – and up from 3% just two years ago.

Naturally, renters are getting pinched too. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, average rents for urban consumers increased 8.8% year-over-year in March.

That's what happens when the Federal Reserve is aggressively hiking interest rates in a bid to whip the worst inflation in four decades. 

Cities with the cheapest rent

cities with cheapest rent

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Given this economic reality, it seemed a good time to search for large, cosmopolitan urban areas that also happen to sport the cheapest apartment rents. To do so, we turned to data from the Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER) (opens in new tab) Cost of Living Index.

C2ER surveys prices for hundreds of goods and services in 265 census-designated areas, both large and small. For the purposes of our survey, we limited ourselves to cities with metro populations of at least 1 million, per the U.S. Census Bureau's list of core-based statistical areas.

With that methodology in place, we were able to find the biggest U.S. cities with the cheapest apartment rents. Note that the rents listed below are for the cities at the center of the metro areas we surveyed. These rents offered the steepest discounts to the national average for apartments of all types ($1,369 per month), according to C2ER data. Cities are listed by apartment rent, from highest to lowest.

Data courtesy of the Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER) Cost of Living Index, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau. Cities are listed by apartment rent, from highest to lowest.

Dan Burrows
Senior Investing Writer, Kiplinger.com

Dan Burrows is Kiplinger's senior investing writer, having joined the august publication full time in 2016.

A long-time financial journalist, Dan is a veteran of SmartMoney, MarketWatch, CBS MoneyWatch, InvestorPlace and DailyFinance. He has written for The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Consumer Reports, Senior Executive and Boston magazine, and his stories have appeared in the New York Daily News, the San Jose Mercury News and Investor's Business Daily, among other publications. As a senior writer at AOL's DailyFinance, Dan reported market news from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange and hosted a weekly video segment on equities.

In his current role at Kiplinger, Dan writes about equities, fixed income, currencies, commodities, funds, macroeconomics, demographics, real estate, cost of living indexes and more.