Whether you need to rent a home or an apartment, prices recently have been hitting their highest level in two years, and the personal-finance website WalletHub released its report on 2021’s Best & Worst Places to Rent in America to help you decide on where to call home.

To help prospective renters get the most bang for their buck, WalletHub compared more than 180 U.S. cities based on 22 key indicators of rental attractiveness and quality of life. The data set ranges from historical rental-price changes to the cost of living to job availability.

Best Cities for Renters Worst Cities for Renters
1. Sioux Falls, SD 173. Oakland, CA
2. Cedar Rapids, IA 174. Newark, NJ
3. Overland Park, KS 175. Stockton, CA
4. Fargo, ND 176. Jackson, MS
5. Lincoln, NE 177. Cleveland, OH
6. Columbia, MD 178. San Bernardino, CA
7. Bismarck, ND 179. New Orleans, LA
8. El Paso, TX 180. Memphis, TN
9. Lewiston, ME 181. Detroit, MI
10. Nashua, NH 182. Huntington, WV

Best vs. Worst

  • Cedar Rapids, Iowa, has the highest rental affordability, with the lowest median annual gross rent divided by median annual household income at 15.73 percent, which is 2.5 times lower than in Hialeah, Florida, the city with the lowest at 40.04 percent.
  • Little Rock, Arkansas, has the highest rental vacancy rate, 14.00 percent, which is 14 times higher than in Nashua, New Hampshire, the city with the lowest at 1.00 percent.
  • Newark, New Jersey, has the highest share of renter-occupied housing units, 77.70 percent, which is 3.4 times higher than in Port St. Lucie, Florida, the city with the lowest at 23.10 percent.
  • Brownsville, Texas, has the lowest cost-of-living index, 74, which is 2.7 times lower than in Honolulu and Pearl City, Hawaii, the cities with the highest at 199.
  • Irvine, California, has the fewest violent crimes (per 1,000 residents), 0.64, which is 30.7 times fewer than in Detroit, the city with the most at 19.65.

Experts Weigh In

What listing details have become more important when searching for a place to rent during the current economic crisis?

“If there is an early termination right (for loss of job for example), that would be beneficial (even with a penalty). Rent abatements are also helpful. Here the landlord could charge an older market rental rate but abate some months to make the net amount paid for the year lower than if it was merely based on the monthly rent. Amenities, amenities, amenities. It is costlier in time if there is no washer and dryer in the building. Avoid any third-party guarantees and higher security deposit amounts,” said Richard J. Sobelsohn an adjunct professor at the School of Law, Fordham University.

“Along with price and location – the amenities available. Is there a washer and dryer in the apartment or do you have to leave your apartment to do laundry? Is there a gym? Pool? Hot tub?, ” said Jim Brau, Ph.D., a professor at Brigham Young University.

Are the fastest growing cities a good place for renters? Why?

“In my opinion, the best value is in the secondary cities and cities with some growth, but necessarily the highest growth. City growth is important for employment opportunities, but high growth could have an adverse event on the affordability of housing options,” said J. David Chapman, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Central Oklahoma.

“If rents are not growing at the same rate as the growth of income, then it is a good place to rent. In addition, policies that protect the renter’s interest also play an important role,” said N. Kundan Kishor, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

How can local policymakers make housing more affordable for renters without upsetting homeowners?

“There are grants available for affordable housing. The problem is they are generally reserved for home buyers. We need additional programs for responsible landlords and rental property owners to make repairs and help make their apartments and rentals safer and more affordable. Renting needs to be a respectable alternative to purchasing,” Chapman, said.

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Source: WalletHub