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The Top U.S. Cities for Renting vs. Buying

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Advent in Brooklyn
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To Rent or Buy?

If you’re looking for a fresh start in a new city or thinking about moving somewhere more affordable, Cheapism has you covered with this list that compares the best 20 cities in the U.S. that offer the most bang for your buck whether you're looking to rent or to buy. The cost of rent increased 14.1% to $1,876 in June in the nation’s 50 largest metropolitan areas, according to a monthly report by Realtor.com.


Related: The 20 Best Cities for First-Time Homebuyers

Boston Back Bay Brownstones
3dan3/istockphoto

Top 10 Cities for Renting

In these cities, the monthly cost of renting a home is lower than the cost of buying a starter home for two main reasons: stable annual rent growth and a high concentration of workers earning high wages, such as in tech hubs like Seattle, where home values shot up 19.4% in the past year.


Related: Best and Worst Cities for Renting a Home

Austin City Lights
Nicholas Smith/istockphoto

1. Austin, Texas (Rent)

Median monthly rent: $1,864

Estimated monthly mortgage: $3,685

Alamo square and Painted Ladies with San Francisco skyline
Spondylolithesis/istockphoto

2. San Francisco

Median monthly rent: $3,171

Estimated monthly mortgage: $5,705

Sunset Seattle
july7th/istockphoto

3. Seattle

Median monthly rent: $2,299

Estimated monthly mortgage: $4,100

Night New York, reflective city lights
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4. New York

Median monthly rent: $2,989
Estimated monthly mortgage: $5,081

Plaza de Cesar Chavez San Jose
GerardoBrucker/istockphoto

5. San Jose, California

Median monthly rent: $3,324

Estimated monthly mortgage: $5,499


Sunrise at Portland, Oregon
Shunyu Fan/istockphoto

6. Portland, Oregon

Median monthly rent: $1,833

Estimated monthly mortgage: $2,961

Walk of fame - Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles
ViewApart/istockphoto

7. Los Angeles

Median monthly rent: $3,051

Estimated monthly mortgage: $4,897

Downtown Boston Cityscape
SeanPavonePhoto/istockphoto

8. Boston

Median monthly rent: $2,966
Estimated monthly mortgage: $4,664

Houston, Texas, USA
Sean Pavone/istockphoto

9. Houston

Median monthly rent: $1,450
Estimated monthly mortgage: $2,223

Phoenix skyline and cactus
Davel5957/istockphoto

10. Phoenix

Median monthly rent: $1,781
Estimated monthly mortgage: $2,709

Cleveland Houses / Residential Area
Davel5957/istockphoto

Top 10 Cities for Buying

By comparison, research shows that cities in the Midwest and South favor buying over renting due to rising wages and more affordable mortgage rates that counter the soaring cost of homebuying in other parts of the country. The majority of these areas tend to have fewer people and are more geographically sparse.

Pittsburgh Pennsylvania Skyline
SeanPavonePhoto/istockphoto

1. Pittsburgh (Buy)

Median monthly rent: $1,583

Estimated monthly mortgage: $1,061

Birmingham, Alabama skyline from the highest point atop Red Mountain
Birmingham, Alabama skyline from the highest point atop Red Mountain by André Natta (None)

2. Birmingham, Alabama

Median monthly rent: $1,278
Estimated monthly mortgage: $900

St. Louis downtown city skyline
f11photo/istockphoto

3. St. Louis

Median monthly rent: $1,371
Estimated monthly mortgage: $1,087

Cleveland
Sean Pavone/istockphoto

4. Cleveland

Median monthly rent: $1,432

Estimated monthly mortgage: $1,234

Baltimore Maryland MD Inner Harbor Skyline Aerial
Kruck20/istockphoto

5. Baltimore

Median monthly rent: $1,432
Estimated monthly mortgage: $1,234

Louisville, Kentucky, USA
Sean Pavone/istockphoto

6. Louisville, Kentucky

Median monthly rent: $1,253

Estimated monthly mortgage: $1,189

Virginia Beach, Virginia
peeterv/istockphoto

7. Virginia Beach, Virginia

Median monthly rent: $1,581

Estimated monthly mortgage: $1,526

Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
Sean Pavone/istockphoto

8. Indianapolis

Median monthly rent: $1,303

Estimated monthly mortgage: $1,266

Cincinnati Riverwalk
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9. Cincinnati

Median monthly rent: $1,499

Estimated monthly mortgage: $1,485

Kansas City Skyline Lake View
TriggerPhoto/istockphoto

10. Kansas City, Missouri

Median monthly rent: $1,326

Estimated monthly mortgage: $1,313