Struggling to make rent each month? You’re not alone. Though financial experts suggest spending no more than 30% of your monthly income on housing, half of the 43 million Americans who rent an apartment are paying more than that to their landlord, according to Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies.
It’s not just residents of big coastal cities or lower-income people who are confronting too-high prices when they set out to rent an apartment. In some cities — including Denver, Minneapolis, Chicago, Salt Lake City, and Austin — 50% or more of middle-income renters (those with incomes between $30,000 and $45,000) are devoting more than 30% of their paychecks to rent, the center found. Among lower earners across the United States, between 75% and 84% are stuck in housing that’s not affordable.
Where are the affordable cities?
Nonetheless, there are still a handful of U.S. cities where rent is fairly cheap, according to the December 2017 National Rent Report from real estate website Zumper. In Fort Worth, Louisville, Milwaukee, Phoenix, and Las Vegas, the median price for a one-bedroom apartment is under $1,000, per Zumper’s analysis of more than 1 million active listings in the 50 biggest U.S. cities.
In some cities, rent is even lower. You might not be able to live in the most desirable neighborhood or get top-of-the-line appliances in your kitchen, but you should be able to snag budget-friendly digs without too much trouble.
If you want to rent an apartment for cheap, head to one of these 15 metro areas, where the median price for a one-bedroom is around $650 a month.
15. Columbus, Ohio
In Columbus, the median price for a one-bedroom in December 2017 was $650, down slightly from the previous month. However, year over year rental rates have increased 8.3% in this city, so get in while you can.
What you can get: A one-bedroom apartment conveniently located near downtown and shopping centers for $597 a month. The unit has hardwood floors and modern updates.
Next: A city in Tennessee
14. Memphis, Tennessee
In Memphis, you can rent an apartment for $650 per month, on average, but that’s over an 8% increase since 2016. Upgrading to a two-bedroom unit won’t cost you that much more, either. Those go for an average of $700 a month.
What you can get: A one-bedroom unit near downtown Memphis is a steal at $590 per month. The apartment is close to from bars and restaurants, and comes with fireplaces and private amenities.
Next: Cheap rent in the Sunshine State
13. Tallahassee, Florida
You can rent an apartment in one of Florida’s largest northern cities for $650 per month on average. The rent has decreased by 3% from December 2016.
What you can get: About $500 per month gets you a one-bedroom unit in Tallahassee with walk-in closets, full-sized washer and dryers, and spa services.
Next: We head out West
12. Albuquerque, New Mexico
The biggest city in New Mexico also has some of the cheapest rents in the country. The typical one-bedroom unit goes for $630 a month. Prices barely budged from 2016 to 2017.
What you can get: A convenient one-bedroom apartment in the Stardust Skies North neighborhood for $619 per month. The 680-square-foot unit has private a private balcony and ceiling fan.
Next: A city in the Lone Star State
11. El Paso, Texas
In El Paso, the average one-bedroom apartment rents for $630 a month. Both one and two-bedroom units have decreased by over 1% compared to December 2016, according to Zumper.
What you can get: A renovated one-bedroom apartment in the Resler Canyon neighborhood for $600 a month. It has updated counter tops in the kitchen, hardwood floors, and it is located in the heart of downtown.
Next: Renters get a break in this Midwestern metro
10. Indianapolis, Indiana
If you have $630 you can find a one-bedroom apartment in Indianapolis. But you’ll want to make the move sooner rather than later. Prices climbed 10.5% since December 2016 and roughly 5% in just a month.
What you can get: A one-bedroom unit for $545 a month in a vintage building close to the Near Northside neighborhood. Apartments have parquet floors and the building is close to downtown.
Next: A surprisingly affordable capital city
9. Tulsa, Oklahoma
Apartments in Tulsa go for $620 per month on average. Rent for a one-bedroom in Tulsa rose 8.8% from December 2016 to December 2017. But two-bedroom units fell by 2.7% year over year.
What you can get: One-bedroom units in this health and fitness-oriented community start at $509 per month. The complex features a swimming pool, tennis courts, and a fitness center and is close to parks, shopping, and restaurants.
Next: Budget-friendly housing in Nebraska
8. Lincoln, Nebraska
One-bedroom apartments go for a $610 per month on average in this Nebraska city. And it seems prices could continue to sink even lower. Rents were 15.3% lower than this time last year.
What you can get: A spacious one-bedroom apartment in the Belmont area for $575 a month. The 650-square-foot apartment has in-unit laundry, air conditioning, and is within minutes to downtown Lincoln.
Next: Moving on to Motor City
7. Detroit, Michigan
For $580 per month, you can rent an apartment in the Motor City. Rents in Detroit climbed about 5.5% year over year.
What you can get: A one-bedroom in the Trocadaro Apartments, which was designed in 1928 and is on the National Register of Historic Places, for $525. The building is part of the Palmer Park Apartment District, a triangle-shaped neighborhood full of vintage apartments overlooking Palmer Park.
Next: Heading down South
6. Shreveport, Louisiana
Apartments in Shreveport cost $580 per month on average. But the real deals are with two-bedroom apartments. While rent for smaller units climbed slightly from November to December, average rent for a large unit fell 9.9% to $640 per month.
What you can get: A one-bedroom unit in a complex with a dog park, swimming pool, and clubhouse. The apartment is across the street from Cross Lake and is close to the freeway.
Next: Another stop in Texas
5. Lubbock, Texas
The rental market in this second Texas city is stable. Two-bedroom unit prices remain unchanged at a reasonable $700 per month on average, while one-bedroom units fell slightly to $550 per month year over year.
What you can get: A roomy one-bedroom apartment in the Wester neighborhood with updated kitchens and bathrooms. The building is near plenty of shopping, restaurants, and schools.
Next: This Ohio city is cheap for renters
4. Toledo, Ohio
Ohio is clearly the place for renters on a budget. The average one-bedroom in the city goes for $540 per month, though rent for these units are climbing steadily. Rent rose 14.6% in just one year.
What you can get: A one-bedroom unit in the Southwyck neighborhood for $440 per month. The 650-square-foot apartment has a private patio and is close to restaurants and the Swan Creek Preserve.
Next: Another city in Ohio
3. Akron, Ohio
A one-bedroom apartment in Akron costs $540 per month, on average. Rent did climb a bit year over year.
What you can get: A no-frills apartment in a vintage building on Arlington street for $550 a month.
Next: Cheap rent on the Great Plains
2. Wichita, Kansas
In Wichita, the median rent for a one-bedroom $510 and the prices remain steady in this affordable Midwestern city. There was only a slight boost in average rent from November to December, but it barely budged year over year.
What you can get: A one-bedroom apartment in Wichita’s Riverside neighborhood for $490 a month. The building is on a quiet street and comes with a modern tiled backsplash in the kitchen.
Next: A city in the Hoosier State
1. Fort Wayne, Indiana
Fort Wayne is the cheapest city to rent in the U.S. It is the only city with rent below $500 per month, costing just $490 on average. Don’t count out a two-bedroom unit, though. They’re just $60 more expensive per month on average.
What you can get: A one-bedroom apartment for $452 per month in the Canterberry Green neighborhood. The building is on an 18-hole golf course and the units come equipped with fireplaces and balconies.
Follow Lauren on Twitter @la_hamer.
Check out The Cheat Sheet on Facebook!