Living in popular U.S. cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., can be expensive, but there are alternative options. Some affordable housing options, a dynamic economy, and a healthy physical environment can be found in the South. Charleston, South Carolina, leads the rankings for renters in terms of both costs and living experience, according to a RentCafe study. D.C.,
Nine of the top 10 cities ranked by RentCafe are located in the South, including four in Texas. The study uses 20 metrics, including cost of living, local economy, and quality of life, to determine the best overall places for renters. While cost may be the most important factor, it should not be the only factor when deciding where to live.
Here’s a closer look at some of the metrics included in each category:
- Cost of living: Includes local rent prices, grocery and utility costs, average apartment sizes, and occupancy rates.
- Local economy: Includes unemployment rate and job growth.
- Quality of life: Includes apartment locations, school quality, and average commute times.
While the cost of living metrics carried the most weight, the best places for renters performed relatively well across all categories.
If you’re looking for an affordable place to rent with robust opportunities for career growth and a high quality of life, check out RentCafe’s top 10 places.
Top 10 places in the U.S. for renters
- Charleston, South Carolina
- Plano, Texas
- Scottsdale, Arizona
- Raleigh, North Carolina
- Round Rock, Texas
- Austin, Texas
- Charlotte, North Carolina
- Conroe, Texas
- Arlington, Virginia
Charleston, South Carolina’s largest city, ranks highest in terms of living costs and apartment quality, with an average monthly rent of $1,938. The average apartment is larger at 965 square feet, compared to the national average of 897 square feet. Charleston has a 3.4% unemployment rate, below the national rate of 3.7%. However, it could improve in quality of life, with only 16% of apartments in top locations, based on Yardi Matrix’s definition of education, employment, income, proximity to commercial development, and public transportation availability.
Why renters may want to ‘mess with Texas’
RentCafe’s rankings have placed four Texas cities in the top 10 due to high housing costs. Plano, a Dallas suburb, ranks second for local economy and quality of life, with an average rent price of $1,813 higher than the national average. Its apartments are well-positioned, with nearly 70% in top locations. Renters in Plano earn an average $73,930 annual salary. Round Rock, Austin, and Conroe, ranked sixth, seventh, and ninth, each have high housing cost scores, with Conroe earning the best housing cost score.