- For renters on a mission to get the best value for their money, we calculated how much space a monthly rent of $1,500 gets you in the top 50 best cities for renters.
- Amarillo, TX, Little Rock, AR and Oklahoma City, OK are the hidden gems where renters can get the biggest bang for their buck and live large in rentals that boast as much as 1,400 square feet.
- At the bottom of the ranking, San Diego, CA, offers the least space for the same money. Let’s just say that, on a $1,500 budget, you could fit three San Diego apartments inside an Amarillo apartment.
Whether we’re talking about space in terms of square footage or the mental equivalent, if the last couple of years have taught us anything, it’s that we can never have too much of either of them. And, while the appeal of a big, vibrant city is still strong, many renters are looking for new locations to gain more space — whether for a home office, a new family member or simply to make the most of their time spent indoors.
We have recently ranked the very best cities for renters in the U.S., using a unique index based on proprietary data and metrics, such as the cost of living, local economy and quality of life. Now, to take it to the next level, we wanted to see in which of these best cities for renters you’ll get the most space for your money, considering a monthly budget of $1,500, which is roughly the national average rent.
What we found is that renters in smaller cities across the nation, like Amarillo, TX and Little Rock, AR get the most bang for their buck, with rentals boasting up to an impressive 1,411 square feet. What makes these locations stand out are larger-than-average apartment sizes and lower rent prices. At the bottom of the list, San Diego apartments offer the least space on our list — just 463 square feet for $1,500 — which is just one-third of the space that Amarillo apartments do for the same monthly rent.
The Renting Paradox: Living Large in Small Cities
In our recent ranking of the best cities for renters in the country, the spotlight was claimed mostly by small cities. This is also true for the cities that offer the most space for $1,500. In fact, in the top 10 alone, seven of the ranking locations are small towns with populations of less than 300,000. Below are the top locations where you’re sure to find the sweet spot of price and space:
1. Amarillo, TX
- Space for $1,500: 1,411 square feet
- Average monthly rent: $879
- Average apartment size: 827 square feet
- Ranking in the top best cities for renters: #23
Often ranked as one of the best cities in Texas — as well as in the nation when it comes to the cost of living — Amarillo could leave residents from other cities “yellow” with envy. For a monthly rent of $1,500, renters here get a whopping 1,411 square feet — the largest apartments in our ranking. Plus, Amarillo is also the 23rd-best city for renters in 2022, as well as one of the cities with the lowest unemployment rates; and, if we pair that with how much elbow room renters have here, it’s safe to say that we’re talking about a great place to rent in.
2. Little Rock, AR
- Space for $1,500: 1,395 square feet
- Average monthly rent: $946
- Average apartment size: 880 square feet
- Ranking in the top best cities for renters: #37
As Arkansas’ capital and the most populous city in the state, Little Rock is, in fact, a big winner in terms of space. Renters here have an average of 1,395 square feet for $1,500 in rent, which makes it the runner-up on our list. Little Rock is also among the top cities for new apartments — a sign that renters have plenty of new, modern apartments to choose from. What’s more, Little Rock doesn’t just offer enough space for its renters. It also has enticing job opportunities with one of the lowest unemployment rates among the best cities for renters, as well as a large number of highly educated residents.
3. Oklahoma City, OK
- Space for $1,500: 1,390 square feet
- Average monthly rent: $917
- Average apartment size: 850 square feet
- Ranking in the top best cities for renters: #44
Oklahoma City is not only the state’s capital but is also known as one of the fastest-growing entertainment districts in the Southwest. The city scored a great position in the “cost of living” category (#28 of 115) and is also generous in terms of space. Renters in Oklahoma City can get 1,390 square feet for their $1,500 per month, which is the third-largest space on our top. This is the equivalent of a three-bedroom apartment — not too shabby, even for a larger family.
4. Mobile, AL
- Space for $1,500: 1,343 square feet
- Average monthly rent: $1.042
- Average apartment size: 933 square feet
- Ranking in the top best cities for renters: #48
This Southern gem is officially the first city founded in the state of Alabama and has a rich history under its belt. However, nowadays, Mobile is also a great hotspot for renters, coming in 18th in terms of cost of living. For $1,500 per month, renters in Mobile can get an apartment of 1,343 square feet, which is plenty of space to live comfortably. Given these perks, it’s no wonder that 48.2% of Mobile’s residents are renting their homes.
5. Memphis, TN
- Space for $1,500: 1,323 square feet
- Average monthly rent: $1,032
- Average apartment size: 910 square feet
- Ranking in the top best cities for renters: #45
You say Memphis, we say Elvis. But, rich music history aside, Memphis rounds out the top five best cities where renters can get the most space, offering 1,323 square feet for a monthly rent of $1,500. The city is also one of the best in the nation when it comes to cost of living and housing (#7 on our list of best cities for renters) and it also boasts a renter majority among its residents. And, given that the average monthly rent in Memphis is around the $1,000 mark, it’s easy to understand why renting here is a smart choice.
6. Lafayette, LA
- Space for $1,500: 1,297 square feet
- Average monthly rent: $1,055
- Average apartment size: 912 square feet
- Ranking in the top best cities for renters: #28
Renters in Lafayette are also pretty lucky, given that $1,500 per month will get them almost 1,300 square feet. The “Hub City” is known for its vibrant music, festivities and delicious Southern cuisine, but also for being “the happiest city in America.” And, no wonder! With an affordable cost of living (#31 in our ranking), a large number of highly educated residents and 257 days a year with great air quality – all paired with a comfortable space for an affordable amount — it’s obvious why renters gravitate toward Lafayette.
7. Omaha, NE
- Space for $1,500: 1,288 square feet
- Average monthly rent: $1.069
- Average apartment size: 918 square feet
- Ranking in the top best cities for renters: #45 (tied with Memphis)
The largest city in the state of Nebraska, Omaha is also one of the most generous places in the nation in terms of space. Renters in Omaha get 1,288 square feet for $1,500 rent. However, it might be hard for new renters to find an apartment available due to the high occupancy of the apartments in the city (95.3%). Plus, Omaha is also home to big companies and has a great number of high-end units, which makes the “gateway to the West” a great place to rent.
8. Huntsville, AL
- Space for $1,500: 1,281 square feet
- Average monthly rent: $1,101
- Average apartment size: 940 square feet
- Ranking in the top best cities for renters: #25
As the 25th-best city for renters, Huntsville was also a “most moved to” city during the pandemic. The size of the apartments available in this Alabama hotspot might have something to do with that, as renters here get almost 1,300 square feet for $1,500 per month. Moreover, Huntsville has a great cost of living and a large number of high-end units, making it easy for renters to live comfortably. And, the city also registers a high percentage of educated residents (44%) and provides many jobs, given the variety of military technologies and aerospace industries that operate in Huntsville.
9. Lubbock, TX
- Space for $1,500: 1,273 square feet
- Average monthly rent: $1,078
- Average apartment size: 915 square feet
- Ranking in the top best cities for renters: #21
Yet another Texas staple, Lubbock ranks high on the list of best cities for renters (#21) and is also offering renters a bang for their buck. For a $1,500 monthly rent, Lubbock residents can enjoy 1,273 square feet — or the equivalent of a two- to three-bedroom apartment. The home of Texas Tech University, Lubbock has a dense, suburban feel a great cost of living and a large number of high-end apartments, making it easy to see why 48.2% of its residents are currently renting their homes.
10. Augusta, GA
- Space for $1,500: 1,253 square feet
- Average monthly rent: $1,099
- Average apartment size: 918 square feet
- Ranking in the top best cities for renters: #43
Rounding out the top 10 best cities where renters can get the most space was Augusta, GA. Home to a large share of renters (48.9%) who are enjoying large rental spaces of 1,253 square feet for a monthly cost of $1,500. This Georgia peach also ranks fifth in cost of living and housing among the best cities for renters in the nation, which makes life affordable and comfortable in the home of the Masters golf tournament. The abundance of culture, festivals and events certainly doesn’t hurt either.
Have a higher budget or just want to see the smallest apartment you can fit in? Use the handy calculator below to determine how much space you can rent based on your budget.
Three San Diego Apartments Can Fit into an Amarillo One – For the Same $1,500
Some cities check all the major boxes needed to keep renters happy – they’re vibrant, they offer great job opportunities, they have plenty of entertainment options; but one thing that they lack is space. Renters in large cities like San Diego, CA, Fort Lauderdale, FL or Denver, CO have to sacrifice space for other perks of the big-city life. In fact, the difference between these cities and the ones that offer the most space for $1,500 is quite significant, as a renter in Amarillo, TX can get three times the space in San Diego, for the exact same amount.
Conversely, despite checking a multitude of boxes, the top three best cities for renters in 2022 have a slightly different offering in terms of space. As such, Round Rock, TX, the absolute best city for renters this year — offers 870 square feet for a monthly budget of $1,500. The runner-up in this race, Raleigh, NC, provides 923 square feet for the same amount, while renters in Conroe, TX, can get more than 1,000 square feet for $1,500 (more specifically, 1,043).
- The Best Cities for Renters ranking was compiled by RentCafe.com, a nationwide apartment search website that enables renters to easily find apartments and houses for rent throughout the United States.
- We considered “suitable candidates for best cities for renters” only cities with an apartment stock of at least 10,000 apartment units. Cities with a lower apartment stock were excluded. A total of 115 cities were the final candidates for the ranking.
- To determine the best cities for renters, the RentCafe analytics team used a composite index to compare cities across 3 main categories: Cost of Living & Housing, Local Economy and Quality of Life.
- The three main categories were compiled from 17 relevant metrics. Each metric received a score based on rank position, the best value from each metric received maximum points, then the result was multiplied by the metric’s given weight.
- To create the categories index, the process of ranking was repeated and then the results were multiplied by each category’s overall weight.
- Data from Yardi Matrix, a RentCafe sister division, covers apartment buildings of 50 units or more. (All other sources used are cited below)
- The apartment space you can rent for a monthly budget of $1,500 was calculated using price per square foot, derived from the average rents and average size of apartments by city, in multifamily properties of 50 or more units, using Yardi Matrix data.
- Apartment data for New York City was available for three boroughs: Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.
- The analysis includes 50 Best Cities for Renters, defined above.
- Metros are as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau.
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