Comparing properties and prices around the country is tricky business. The rent that goes into sharing a shoebox in San Francisco could easily go into a spacious apartment in Dallas, or even a mortgage for a sprawling home in Atlanta.
While tempting, these match-ups are apples to oranges; there are too many factors that make each housing market distinct. For many of us, the rental game is one we have to play, but it’s an increasingly competitive one; the volume of renters is growing and rent prices are rising, yet the amount of space we get is on the decline.
There’s a seesaw of pros and cons when it comes to deciding how much you’re willing to pay for the space you want, and consequently what cities you’re willing to pay a certain price tag to live in. We did a little digging to get a basic picture of how what you’re paying for rent stacks up nationwide.
There are a few different ways to get there:
Method 1: Calculate (price per) square footage
Apartment Guide found that the median rent for apartments that advertise with them was $749, then calculated how many square feet that number would get in markets around the country. They looked at studios and one-bedroom apartments to find the cities you get the most and least space for your money.
The metropolitan areas where you get the most square footage for the median price:
- Springfield, Missouri: 1,059 sq ft
- Macon, Georgia 1,054 sq ft
- Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, Arkansas/Missouri: 1,041 sq ft
For comparison’s sake, the cities in which you get the least square footage for the median price:
- San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California: 267.08 sq ft
- San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, California: 284.88 sq ft
- Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Connecticut: 338.13 sq ft
Method 2: Compare rents for one type of property
You can find plenty of information on the cities where it’s most and least affordable to rent, but these lists generally don’t specify the average size of rentals in these cities. The average monthly rent nationally is $889, but there’s a massive difference between paying for an efficiency and paying for a two bedroom. This list gives a little more clarity; these are examples of what it costs to rent a one bedroom apartment in cities that fall above, right at, and well above the national average.
The low end:
- Tucson, Arizona: $567 per month
- Tulsa, Oklahoma: $587 per month
- Omaha, Nebraska: $663 per month
- Jacksonville, Florida: $725 per month
Hovering around average:
- Pittsburgh: $916 per month
- Salt Lake City: $905 per month
- Richmond, Virginia: $884 per month
- Charlotte, North Carolina: $834 per month
- San Francisco: $3,410 per month
- New York $3,000 per month
- Boston: $2,400 per month
- Washington, D.C.: $2,010 per month
Method 3: Set a price and go digging on Craigslist
Mic took this approach last year. They used a bar of $800 and scoured apartment listings to see what that would secure in 11 major cities. The findings ranged from approximately 500 sq ft one bedrooms in Miami and Austin, to bedrooms in shared apartments in New York and Boston, to a pristine but small open concept apartment in Salt Lake City.
When it’s all said and done…
None of the above methodology is exactly scientific. Numbers like these can provide solid perspective, but at the end of the day rent and space are just two among many factors you’ll use to decide where to live.
Image courtesy of Scott Smithson