A modest budget, based on national standards, might not rent much in San Francisco in terms of square footage. But head toward Middle America, and you could find yourself with an entire single-family home for the next year.

  • Rent Café broke down Yardi Matrix data to determine where $1,500 takes renters the farthest.
  • The average $1,500 apartment in Manhattan is just 271 square feet, or $5.54 per square foot.
  • Houston is one of the best big cities for a $1,500 rental budget, which buys around 1,271 square feet.
Buildings around Union Square in Manhattan

Manhattan / Ryan DeBerardinis / Shutterstock.com

A modest budget, based on national standards, might not rent much in San Francisco in terms of square footage. But head toward Middle America, and you could find yourself with an entire single-family home for the next year.

To demonstrate how much square footage on a standard budget differentiates across the U.S., Rent Café — the nationwide apartment search website — used Yardi Matrix data to illustrate just how much space $1,500 allows in an apartment or home rental.
rent budget

Little room in the big city

The average $1,500 apartment in Manhattan is just 271 square feet, or $5.54 per square foot, the report says. That’s the tightest square footage for the budget, supporting the common belief that New Yorkers are unbelievably cramped. The average Manhattan apartment is 727 square feet yet costs a staggering $4,031 per month.

In San Francisco, you get a bit more breathing room, at an average 342 square feet ($4.38 per square foot) for $1,500, but don’t plan on buying any living room furniture. For $3,275, you’re looking at a more realistic 748 square foot rental.

Washington D.C. offers a mid-range studio size for $1,500 per month at 558 square feet, or $2.69 per square foot. The average rent is just under $2,000 for a 741 square foot unit.

Los Angeles apartments for the same price hover around 570 square feet, or $2.63 per square foot. The average size of L.A. apartments is 779 square feet, which costs around $2,050 per month. 

Midwest, South cities better for tighter budgets

Chicago offers more square footage with less of a financial burden, according to the report. The average rent is $1,708, while the average size is 730 square foot. For $1,500 per month, however, Chicagoans can get a 641 square foot unit at $2.34 per square foot.

Houston is one of the best big cities for a $1,500 rental budget. That sort of money buys around 1,271 square feet for $1.18 per square foot. And if you’re willing to live smaller, the average 876 square foot apartment costs an average $1,030 per month.

Email Jennifer Riner

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