The Cost of Living Alone in America’s 7 Biggest Cities
Fed up with roommates? Getting your own place and ditching the shared bathroom and piles of unwashed dishes in the sink certainly sounds appealing. After all, living by yourself gives you total privacy and control over your living space.
Having all that space to yourself comes at a price, though. You’ll probably end up paying more for rent and utilities, and also have to cover other costs you may have split in the past, like furnishing your place or stocking the kitchen with staples. But you wouldn’t be making an unusual choice, as more than a quarter of people in the U.S. live alone, according to U.S. Census data.
To give you an idea of what it might cost to get your own place, we’ve gathered the information about the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in America’s seven biggest cities. The numbers come from MyApartmentMap, an online service that collects data about online apartment listings. We’ve also included the average cost for basic monthly utilities (including electricity, heat, water, and garbage) for a 915-square-foot apartment from Numbeo, a website that crowd sources data about the cost of living in cities around the world. The results are presented in order of least to most expensive major city.
Average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment: $740
Average utilities: $179.50
Phoenix is the most affordable city for single renters on our list. Yet like Houston, average rents are rising here at a healthy clip, moving up 5.3% from 2014 to 2015, per Zillow. This population of this desert metropolis has been steadily increasing in recent years (it had one of the biggest increases in population from 2013 to 2014, according to the U.S. Census), which could explain why rents are shooting up as well.
6. San Antonio
Average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment: $795
Average utilities: $138.41
Fast-growing San Antonio is still a relatively affordable city for single renters. The job market in San Antonio is also relatively strong, according to research by Manpower. Nineteen percent of employers are looking to hire more workers, while just 2% plan to cut back on jobs.
Average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment: $973
Average utilities: $217.91
Houston is the first city on our list where average rent for a one-bedroom is less than $1,000 per month. (It’s also the only city where the average for utilities was more than $200 a month.) But the cost of renting in this Texas city is increasing. Average rents rose 5.9% from 2014 to 2015, according to Zillow. The Houston Business Journal blamed the higher rents on an increase in the number of luxury apartments in the city, which in turned helps to push up monthly rents for other units.
Average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment: $1,145
Average utilities: $148.20
Rents were up and vacancies were down in Philadelphia in 2014, according to a report in the Philadelphia Business Journal. Overall, Philadelphia is the third-most-expensive rental market in the U.S. Renters can save by moving to nearby communities like Darby, Penn. (average one-bedroom: $649 a month) and Lansdowne, Penn., (average one-bedroom: $795 a month). The good news? Philadelphia was ranked the third-best city for singles by NerdWallet in 2015, based on the number of other unattached people, cost of going on a date, and number of entertainment businesses and restaurants.
Average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment: $1,317
Average utilities: $114.54
Chicago isn’t among the most expensive rental markets in the U.S. overall, but it’s still not a cheap place for singles to live on their own. Renting a one-bedroom apartment in desirable central neighborhoods like Lincoln Park, West Town, and the Near North Side costs between $1,750 and $2,000 per month, according to apartment rental site Zumper. (Zumper also puts the average cost of a one-bedroom in Chicago at slightly higher than MyApartmentMap, at $1,670.) Single renters can save by looking for place in further-out neighborhoods like Kenwood, Rogers Park, and Irving Park, where average rents for a one-bedroom are all under $1,000 a month.
2. Los Angeles
Average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment: $1,881
Average utilities: $107.62
Los Angeles, the second-largest city in the U.S., is also one of the least affordable for renters. Half of the population rents, paying an average of roughly half their monthly income to do so, according to a report in the LA Weekly. A pricy rental market makes it hard for people to move out into their own place, and some critics blame a boom in short-term rental listings on sites like Airbnb for making affordable housing even harder to find, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.
1. New York
Average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment: $2,825
Average utilities: $128.14
Not surprisingly, New York topped our list of cities where it costs a lot to live alone. The Big Apple is the most expensive rental market in the U.S. New Yorkers spend an average of 60% of their income on rent, according to a study by StreetSmarts. The steep cost of housing in America’s largest city has even led some married couples to take in roommates, according to a recent report in the New York Times.