Everyone needs somewhere to live and not everyone can afford to or wants to buy a home, so some 43 million American households are currently renting. But rental markets are not created equal and personal finance website WalletHub set out to figure out where renters can get the most bang for their buck.

In a study called “2020’s Best & Worst Places to Rent in America,” the site evaluated 182 U.S. cities, including the 150 most populated, looking at 24 factors, including cost of living, rental affordability, historical rental price changes, rent-to-home price ratio, job availability, crime rates and statewide coronavirus support.

Among the top 10 best places to rent, six were in the Midwest, including the top spot: Bismarck, North Dakota. Of the top 10 worst places to rent, seven were in the South, including the bottom spot: Hialeah, Florida.

WalletHub also asked a panel of 21 experts questions such as: How can local policymakers make housing more affordable for renters without upsetting homeowners?

Kellen Zale, associate professor of law at University of Houston’s Law Center, noted that because rents nationwide have been rising faster than incomes, renters in many cities are considered “rent-burdened,” meaning they have to spend more than 30 percent of their monthly income on rent.

“There are many strategies policymakers can consider for addressing rental affordability, such as tax incentives for infill development and new rental construction; rental subsidies for public employees like teachers; and revising outdated zoning laws that limit multi-family housing. Numerous studies have shown that rental housing does not lower homeowner property values,” Zale said.

“Furthermore, when a city has a diverse mix of housing options, it can better support all segments of the population. Adopting policies to make renting more affordable ensures that millennials just out of college can live in places where job opportunities are; that retirees on fixed incomes can stay in their communities; and that teachers and health care workers can live near the schools and hospitals they work in.”

She added that many essential workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic are hourly workers who are more likely to be renters than homeowners. “We all benefit when these members of our community have access to affordable and safe rental housing,” Zale said.

Mark Stapp, executive director of the W.P. Carey School of Business, suggested cities reduce regulations, speed up approvals and “look at their own land and building inventories [and] consider any excess or underutilized property for affordable and workforce housing.”

Overall Rank
(1 = Best)
City Total Score ‘Rental Market & Affordability’ Rank ‘Quality of Life’ Rank
1 Bismarck, ND 61.97 1 72
2 Lewiston, ME 57.98 16 21
3 Lincoln, NE 57.70 23 15
4 Rapid City, SD 56.89 2 120
5 Sioux Falls, SD 56.81 3 113
6 Portland, ME 56.56 62 1
7 Cedar Rapids, IA 56.54 8 69
8 Fargo, ND 56.48 4 96
9 Fremont, CA 55.56 43 17
10 Scottsdale, AZ 55.00 85 3
11 Casper, WY 54.84 12 79
12 Chesapeake, VA 54.59 7 97
13 Boise, ID 54.36 70 8
14 Overland Park, KS 54.34 37 32
15 Billings, MT 54.16 5 133
16 Washington, DC 54.14 20 66
17 Omaha, NE 53.68 21 67
18 Gilbert, AZ 53.66 63 16
19 Columbia, MD 53.56 15 98
20 South Burlington, VT 53.46 75 6
21 Nashua, NH 53.31 57 22
22 Las Cruces, NM 53.22 22 75
23 El Paso, TX 52.96 33 60
24 Virginia Beach, VA 52.86 19 84
25 Chandler, AZ 52.85 74 14
26 Huntsville, AL 52.79 18 85
27 Peoria, AZ 52.46 65 20
28 Newport News, VA 52.08 10 126
29 Colorado Springs, CO 51.99 100 10
30 Irvine, CA 51.56 137 4
31 Albuquerque, NM 51.44 9 123
32 Fort Smith, AR 51.12 6 159
33 Des Moines, IA 51.07 29 91
34 Pittsburgh, PA 50.18 45 78
35 Henderson, NV 49.90 98 31
36 Reno, NV 49.88 87 40
37 Cheyenne, WY 49.85 27 115
38 San Francisco, CA 49.58 83 43
39 Warwick, RI 49.53 88 42
40 Denver, CO 49.48 117 23
41 Manchester, NH 49.46 66 61
42 Austin, TX 48.81 76 59
43 Santa Rosa, CA 48.78 142 9
44 San Diego, CA 48.64 162 2
45 Honolulu, HI 48.47 139 25
46 Glendale, AZ 48.41 109 39
47 Amarillo, TX 48.34 42 110
48 Bakersfield, CA 48.24 54 88
49 Oklahoma City, OK 48.21 44 107
50 Richmond, VA 48.04 32 137
51 Grand Rapids, MI 47.89 86 64
52 Fresno, CA 47.82 48 105
53 Mesa, AZ 47.81 114 41
54 Winston-Salem, NC 47.79 30 150
55 Little Rock, AR 47.75 13 170
56 Jersey City, NJ 47.66 28 138
57 Worcester, MA 47.61 104 52
58 Madison, WI 47.55 60 92
59 Lexington-Fayette, KY 47.53 59 95
60 Raleigh, NC 47.48 39 140
61 Wilmington, DE 47.39 36 136
62 Juneau, AK 47.26 26 154
63 Wichita, KS 47.20 17 157
64 Charleston, SC 47.15 107 58
65 Missoula, MT 47.11 35 149
66 Tampa, FL 47.02 150 13
67 Plano, TX 46.99 132 35
68 Nampa, ID 46.97 106 62
69 Phoenix, AZ 46.96 118 51
70 Huntington Beach, CA 46.90 159 5
71 Tempe, AZ 46.76 111 56
72 Greensboro, NC 46.72 34 141
73 San Antonio, TX 46.71 61 103
74 Norfolk, VA 46.57 25 156
75 Orlando, FL 46.55 140 36
76 Springfield, MO 46.49 11 177
77 Corpus Christi, TX 46.47 41 125
78 New York, NY 46.46 123 54
79 Las Vegas, NV 46.43 130 45
80 Louisville, KY 46.43 46 132
81 Rancho Cucamonga, CA 46.35 147 18
82 Tucson, AZ 46.28 92 82
83 Aurora, IL 46.28 73 100
83 Burlington, VT 46.28 116 63
85 Minneapolis, MN 46.25 113 65
86 Chula Vista, CA 46.19 154 19
87 Buffalo, NY 45.86 52 121
88 Arlington, TX 45.79 93 89
88 Durham, NC 45.79 49 129
90 Fontana, CA 45.65 133 46
91 Grand Prairie, TX 45.57 134 48
92 Aurora, CO 45.50 134 57
93 Fort Worth, TX 45.48 97 87
94 Spokane, WA 45.35 68 114
95 St. Louis, MO 45.26 24 168
96 Modesto, CA 45.24 78 104
97 Kansas City, MO 45.23 55 134
98 Rochester, NY 45.21 90 102
99 Jacksonville, FL 45.20 122 68
100 Philadelphia, PA 45.19 56 131
101 Montgomery, AL 45.16 50 152
102 Mobile, AL 45.13 40 160
103 Providence, RI 45.09 80 106
104 Houston, TX 44.89 53 146
105 St. Petersburg, FL 44.57 149 44
106 Pearl City, HI 44.55 155 26
107 Cincinnati, OH 44.54 77 111
108 West Valley City, UT 44.37 115 83
109 Oakland, CA 44.17 84 117
110 Riverside, CA 44.15 136 70
111 St. Paul, MN 44.15 129 77
112 Sacramento, CA 44.08 171 24
113 Fort Wayne, IN 44.07 64 139
114 Columbus, OH 44.03 95 108
115 Portland, OR 44.02 131 76
116 Yonkers, NY 43.99 153 34
117 Oxnard, CA 43.81 152 50
118 Anaheim, CA 43.68 169 30
119 Glendale, CA 43.60 172 12
120 Santa Clarita, CA 43.47 161 33
121 Chattanooga, TN 43.41 81 130
122 Milwaukee, WI 43.41 38 171
123 Birmingham, AL 43.37 69 147
124 Anchorage, AK 43.36 14 181
125 Baltimore, MD 43.29 31 176
126 Salt Lake City, UT 43.27 105 109
127 North Las Vegas, NV 43.19 127 94
128 Charlotte, NC 43.13 58 158
129 Pembroke Pines, FL 43.09 168 29
130 Columbia, SC 42.99 51 165
131 San Jose, CA 42.97 166 37
132 Brownsville, TX 42.97 91 135
133 Garden Grove, CA 42.90 176 7
134 Nashville, TN 42.87 102 116
135 Boston, MA 42.87 175 27
136 Dover, DE 42.80 89 144
137 Ontario, CA 42.47 160 47
138 Salem, OR 42.44 108 119
139 Oceanside, CA 42.38 177 11
140 Tulsa, OK 42.31 98 127
141 Chicago, IL 42.17 79 153
142 Seattle, WA 42.13 148 73
143 Atlanta, GA 42.07 145 81
144 Moreno Valley, CA 42.00 146 74
145 Long Beach, CA 41.98 170 49
146 Baton Rouge, LA 41.90 94 145
147 Irving, TX 41.86 141 99
148 Knoxville, TN 41.21 103 148
149 Lubbock, TX 41.17 67 164
150 Los Angeles, CA 41.12 173 55
151 Cape Coral, FL 40.96 179 28
152 Vancouver, WA 40.95 156 71
153 Laredo, TX 40.84 120 128
154 Fayetteville, NC 40.75 47 180
155 Columbus, GA 40.75 71 169
156 Port St. Lucie, FL 40.61 178 38
157 Charleston, WV 40.42 96 163
158 Tallahassee, FL 40.15 126 143
159 Shreveport, LA 40.05 101 161
160 Garland, TX 39.35 164 93
161 Stockton, CA 39.32 138 142
162 Akron, OH 39.15 110 162
163 Dallas, TX 39.09 151 112
164 Santa Ana, CA 39.01 180 53
165 Indianapolis, IN 38.72 72 178
166 Newark, NJ 38.63 128 155
167 Fort Lauderdale, FL 38.56 163 101
168 Bridgeport, CT 38.23 174 86
169 Toledo, OH 37.90 112 166
170 New Orleans, LA 37.70 144 151
171 New Haven, CT 37.56 157 122
172 San Bernardino, CA 37.44 158 124
173 Tacoma, WA 37.07 165 118
174 Augusta, GA 37.03 121 175
175 Gulfport, MS 36.94 125 172
176 Jackson, MS 36.71 119 174
177 Miami, FL 35.81 181 80
178 Detroit, MI 34.80 124 179
179 Cleveland, OH 34.74 143 173
180 Memphis, TN 34.55 82 182
181 Huntington, WV 32.96 167 167
182 Hialeah, FL 32.02 182 90

Source: WalletHub

WalletHub also ranked the cities by most and least affordable rentals (most affordable: Cedar Rapids, Iowa; least affordable: Hialeah, Florida), lowest and highest median rent growth forecast (lowest: Milwaukee, Wisconsin; highest: North Las Vegas, Nevada), highest and lowest rental vacancy rate (highest: Little Rock, Arkansas; lowest: Garden Grove, California), lowest and highest rent-to-price ratio (lowest: Cheyenne, Wyoming; highest: Rochester, New York), lowest and highest cost of living (lowest: Brownsville, Texas; highest: San Francisco, California) and most and least safe (most: Port St. Lucie, Florida, least: Memphis, Tennessee).

To see how your city stacks up or read the entire report, click here.

Email Andrea V. Brambila.
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coronavirus | rentals
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