Best cities for renting a home in America

Written by:
September 23, 2018
Raymond Bucko, SJ // Wikicommons

Best cities for renting a home in America

While buying a house is a key component to living the American Dream, homeownership isn’t part of everyone’s plan. In fact, most Americans live in an area where it costs less to rent than to buy, according to a report by ATTOM Data Solutions. Renters are flocking to urban centers where housing might be more expensive to buy, but the opportunity for higher wages is a draw.

So, where are the best places to rent a home in the United States? To discover where people should rent, WalletHub compared 182 cities across two key dimensions: “rental market and affordability,” and “quality of life.” Stacker then used these metrics to create the following list of the best 50 cities for renting a home in America.

The results might seem surprising, especially for Arizona. Four of the top five cities to live in the U.S. are located in the Grand Canyon State. Read on to find out how your city stacks up, or where you should settle down next.

#50. Virginia Beach, VA

Total WalletHub score: 52.01

Rental market & affordability rank: 24

Quality of life rank: 98

This coastal city in Virginia sits where the Chesapeake Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean. Long stretches of beach, annual events like the East Coast Surfing Championships, and a thriving culinary scene draw new residents and visitors alike.


#49. Newport News, VA

Total WalletHub score: 52.19

Rental market & affordability rank: 11

Quality of life rank: 120

Nestled on the southeastern end of the Virginia Peninsula, Newport News is a coastal city on the James River. The town is steeped in history with its founding dating back to 1621. Residents can take advantage of the city’s numerous outdoor, historical, and cultural activities, including Downing-Gross Cultural Arts Center, Virginia War Museum, and Newsome House Museum & Cultural Center. Newport News is also the birthplace of jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald.


#48. Las Vegas, NV

Total WalletHub score: 52.38

Rental market & affordability rank: 40

Quality of life rank: 77

Don’t let the casinos and reputation of “Sin City” overshadow its livability. Off the strip, residents enjoy efficient public transportation, a thriving art scene, and outdoor parks and attractions like Springs Preserve. It was also one of 10 communities to win a 2018 All-America City Award. Nevada residents also get to keep more of their earnings, as the state has no income tax.


#47. Raleigh, NC

Total WalletHub score: 52.43

Rental market & affordability rank: 15

Quality of life rank: 113

North Carolina’s state capital is also known as the “City of Oaks,” named for the trees that line the downtown streets. Residents of Raleigh can enjoy a cost of living that is lower than the national average, walkable city centers, and free public transportation downtown. The city also offers so many performing arts and visual arts venues that the city is often called the “Smithsonian of the South.”

#46. Chesapeake, VA

Total WalletHub score: 52.43

Rental market & affordability rank: 10

Quality of life rank: 118

This city in coastal Virginia is located on the Intracoastal Waterway. It has deep historical roots dating back to the arrival of colonial settlers in the 1620s, and was the location of the Battle of Great Bridge during the American Revolution. Residents and visitors of the city can paddle its Dismal Swamp Canal, which inspired Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “The Raven.”


#45. San Francisco, CA

Total WalletHub score: 52.55

Rental market & affordability rank: 107

Quality of life rank: 41

Despite its skyrocketing housing costs, people are flocking to the cosmopolitan California city. Low unemployment, plentiful public transportation, breezy outdoor spaces, and a thriving art and dining scene are just a few reasons to call San Francisco home.


#44. Huntington Beach, CA

Total WalletHub score: 52.80

Rental market & affordability rank: 161

Quality of life rank: 5

The promise of sunny days and sandy beaches are just two reasons residents call ”Surf City USA” home. The beach town in Orange County lies between Los Angeles and San Diego and boasts 10 miles of coastline. Aside from perfect surfing conditions, residents can also enjoy a historic downtown center, farmers markets, and annual beach events like the AVP Volleyball Tournament, Coastal Country Jam, and Huntington Beach Air Show.


#43. Des Moines, IA

Total WalletHub score: 53.01

Rental market & affordability rank: 45

Quality of life rank: 68

Iowa’s capital city offers something for everyone from families to millennials just starting out. Des Moines boasts a cost of living lower than the national average, with housing in the city that is a mix of 1900s Tudor-style homes nestled in bucolic neighborhoods to more contemporary downtown lofts and apartments. The average commute is 19.2 minutes, which is fast for a city of its size. The city also offers a variety of cultural events and activities.


#42. Cape Coral, FL

Total WalletHub score: 53.22

Rental market & affordability rank: 145

Quality of life rank: 11

The Gulf Coast city in Southwest Florida features 400 miles of canals perfect for boating, fishing, and other water activities. Residents and visitors spend their leisure time enjoying sandy beaches, golf courses, and nature preserves.


#41. Amarillo, TX

Total WalletHub score: 53.37

Rental market & affordability rank: 42

Quality of life rank: 65

Situated where the southern planes meet the desert, Amarillo is a thriving city in the Texas panhandle. This community of nearly 200,000 residents is located along historic Route 66. The city offers outdoor attractions like Palo Duro Canyon State Park and an established art scene that includes the Amarillo Opera, Amarillo Symphony, and Amarillo Little Theatre, one of the oldest continuously operating theaters in the country.


#40. Austin, TX

Total WalletHub score: 53.53

Rental market & affordability rank: 76

Quality of life rank: 47

The capital of Texas is a dynamic city rich with cultural offerings. It’s home to the University of Texas, Austin, some of the best barbecue in the country, and an unparalleled live music scene that culminates annually at the Austin City Limits Music Festival. The city is home to many natural refuges like Zilker Park, Barton Springs, and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. It’s also a top destination for creative and digital media technology development.


#39. Las Cruces, NM

Total WalletHub score: 53.70

Rental market & affordability rank: 13

Quality of life rank: 102

This vibrant city in southern New Mexico sits on the banks of the Rio Grande, on the edge of the Chihuahuan Desert and at the foot of the Organ Mountains. Residents enjoy nearly 350 sunny days annually, which provides ample opportunity to get out and enjoy activities like hiking through national parks, admiring monuments and visiting farmers markets and the local wine trail.  


#38. Tucson, AZ

Total WalletHub score: 53.75

Rental market & affordability rank: 56

Quality of life rank: 58

The southern Arizona city, 70 miles north of the U.S. and Mexico border, has been attracting residents since before its official founding in 1776. The city is in the middle of the Sonoran Desert, surrounded by five mountain ranges, and is one of the sunniest cities in the country, sporting blue skies for more than 350 days annually.


#37. Grand Prairie, TX

Total WalletHub score: 53.77

Rental market & affordability rank: 97

Quality of life rank: 22

A jewel in the middle of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metro area, Grand Prairie offers its residents everything from affordable living costs to high-scoring public schools. It was also distinguished as the tenth-happiest city in the country by WalletHub in 2018.


#36. Fort Smith, AR

Total WalletHub score: 53.80

Rental market & affordability rank: 9

Quality of life rank: 108

The second-largest city in Arkansas bills itself as “Where the New South Meets the Old West.” It attracts residents for its low unemployment rate and cost of living (17.9% lower than the U.S. average). Fort Smith also has vibrant cultural offerings rich in art and history.


#35. Orlando, FL

Total WalletHub score: 53.87

Rental market & affordability rank: 139

Quality of life rank: 17

The central Florida city is best-known for Disney World and the Magic Kingdom, but it’s also a sought-after place to call home. Locals love Orlando for its low cost of living, no state income tax, outdoor recreation opportunities, and public transportation options.


#34. Manchester, NH

Total WalletHub score: 54.21

Rental market & affordability rank: 72

Quality of life rank: 38

The quintessentially New England town boasts a vibrant urban center and close proximity to Boston, the Atlantic Ocean, and the White Mountain and Lakes regions. Residents move to Manchester to take advantage of tax-free living, outdoor recreation opportunities, and a vibrant business center.


#33. Reno, NV

Total WalletHub score: 54.44

Rental market & affordability rank: 34

Quality of life rank: 66

“America's Biggest Little City” may seem small next to Las Vegas, but it's a great place to live. Residents can enjoy numerous opportunities for outdoor recreation in Reno and nearby Lake Tahoe. Residents can also enjoy the thriving restaurant scene, vibrant cultural attractions, and the benefits of tax-free living.

#32. Fremont, CA

Total WalletHub score: 54.54

Rental market & affordability rank: 121

Quality of life rank: 18

The former California Gold Rush town, tucked into the San Francisco Bay Area, draws a diverse population in addition to those working in neighboring Silicon Valley. In addition to tech, both Tesla and Kaiser Permanente also have offices in the area. Residents can enjoy everything from outdoor recreation to its annual antiques fair and flea market.


#31. Madison, WI

Total WalletHub score: 54.84

Rental market & affordability rank: 53

Quality of life rank: 52

This town is home to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Edgewood College, and Madison Area Technical College, making it one of the most educated metro areas in the country. New residents have been flocking to Madison to work in its booming health care, information technology, and manufacturing industries. The city features a highly walkable and bikeable city center, with a 21.6 minute average daily commute.


#30. Rapid City, SD

Total WalletHub score: 55.05

Rental market & affordability rank: 8

Quality of life rank: 100

The small town in western South Dakota sits on the edge of the Black Hills. Rapid City attracts residents with its low cost of living, quaint Western downtown area, and low commuting times. It’s also home to nearby Ellsworth Air Force Base.


#29. San Diego, CA

Total WalletHub score: 55.33

Rental market & affordability rank: 157

Quality of life rank: 6

California’s eighth-largest city is also known as “America’s Finest City” for a few reasons. San Diego boats 70 miles of coastline, near-perfect temperatures year-round, and a laid-back beach vibe. Residents find plenty of job opportunities in industries like technology, military, tourism, health care, and research. Large employers in the area, like the University of California, San Diego, Kaiser Permanente, and Sharp may account for San Diego’s low unemployment rate and higher-than-average annual salaries.


#28. South Burlington, VT

Total WalletHub score: 55.37

Rental market & affordability rank: 81

Quality of life rank: 25

Located on Lake Champlain, South Burlington is Vermont’s second-largest city.  The Burlington-South Burlington metropolitan area is home to both the University of Vermont and Ben & Jerry’s. Residents find South Burlington attractive for its low unemployment rate, low commute times, and high-performing public schools.


#27. Portland, ME

Total WalletHub score: 55.47

Rental market & affordability rank: 58

Quality of life rank: 36

This coastal town in southern Maine is the state’s most populated city. Portland offers its residents a thriving culinary scene with plenty of opportunities to get outdoors for exercise and adventure any time of year. Residents enjoy its low unemployment rate and job opportunities in manufacturing and information technology industries.


#26. Henderson, NV

Total WalletHub score: 55.59

Rental market & affordability rank: 29

Quality of life rank: 59

Adjacent to Las Vegas, Henderson is the second-largest city in Nevada, with 290,000 residents. The city boasts an excellent safety record and other perks like no income tax, which attracts businesses to the area.  


#25. Casper, WY

Total WalletHub score: 55.75

Rental market & affordability rank: 6

Quality of life rank: 97

Small-town America comes alive in Casper, situated in East-Central Wyoming at the base of the Rocky Mountains. Residents have plenty of outdoor recreation opportunities, including hiking, mountain biking, boating, and fly-fishing. The city also boasts numerous parks, galleries, and local festivals.


#24. Plano, TX

Total WalletHub score: 55.97

Rental market & affordability rank: 66

Quality of life rank: 35

Located just 20 miles north of Dallas, Plano is a thriving city with a small-town feel. Plano residents can work at one of the city's many corporations, like Frito-Lay. It’s also a regional hub for Bank of America, PepsiCo, and Cigna, among others. Residents find its low crime rate and property taxes attractive, as well.


#23. Huntsville, AL

Total WalletHub score: 56.30

Rental market & affordability rank: 1

Quality of life rank: 121

The high-tech city in northern Alabama has a close history with U.S. space missions and is home to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, earning the name, “The Rocket City.” Huntsville is rich in cultural attractions, home to a significant international population, and offers a cost of living that’s significantly lower than most metropolitan areas around the country.


#22. Charleston, SC

Total WalletHub score: 56.43

Rental market & affordability rank: 59

Quality of life rank: 26

The quaint coastal town of Charleston has grown from a city settled by colonists in 1670 to a thriving modern metropolis. The city boasts the Charleston Naval Base, as well as booming tourism and technology industries. Residents are largely employed in one of those sectors or by manufacturing companies like Boeing and Nucor Steel.


#21. Tampa, FL

Total WalletHub score: 56.59

Rental market & affordability rank: 130

Quality of life rank: 7

The city on Florida’s Gulf Coast is the third most populous in the state. Residents enjoy its laid-back beach vibe, low cost of living, warm weather, and job opportunities. Industry thrives in Tampa, with a large portion of the population working at Publix Super Markets, MacDill Air Force Base, health care organizations, and the University of South Florida.


#20. Cedar Rapids, IA

Total WalletHub score: 57.06

Rental market & affordability rank: 5

Quality of life rank: 81

The second-largest city in Iowa is one of the leading manufacturing regions in the U.S. It’s also the largest corn-producing city in the world. Residents love its dynamic arts scene, low cost of living, and conveniences of a small city. The latter earned Cedar Rapids the distinction of being “The City of Five Seasons,” as the fifth season is one made up of extra time earned to enjoy the rest of them.


#19. El Paso, TX

Total WalletHub score: 57.24

Rental market & affordability rank: 50

Quality of life rank: 37

This west Texas city sits on the Rio Grande near the Mexican border. Residents move to El Paso for outdoor recreational opportunities, a rich cultural scene, and low cost of living. Due to El Paso’s location on the border, it has many opportunities for those interested in joining U.S. Customs and Border Protection.


#18. Glendale, AZ

Total WalletHub score: 57.52

Rental market & affordability rank: 37

Quality of life rank: 40

Located nine miles outside of Phoenix, Glendale is the sports destination for all of Arizona. It’s the location of Arena, University of Phoenix Stadium, spring training for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox, and Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. Residents love its mild winters, positive job growth, and opportunities for outdoor recreation.


#17. Lewiston, ME

Total WalletHub score: 57.84

Rental market & affordability rank: 23

Quality of life rank: 46

Maine’s second-largest city, located 30 miles inland from Portland, offers a beautiful setting along the Androscoggin River. Residents love the low cost of living, good air quality, and low crime rate.


#16. Omaha, NE

Total WalletHub score: 58.31

Rental market & affordability rank: 27

Quality of life rank: 44

The largest city in Nebraska has a booming riverfront and downtown area that has experienced more than $2 billion in new development. Residents also move to Omaha for its low cost of living, family friendly environment, and midwestern hospitality.


#15. Phoenix, AZ

Total WalletHub score: 58.63

Rental market & affordability rank: 44

Quality of life rank: 30

Phoenix is the capital of Arizona, and the fifth-largest city in the U.S. Residents flock to the “Valley of the Sun” for year-round sunshine, more than 200 golf courses, and a booming economy. The city is home to corporate headquarters of four Fortune 500 companies.


#14. Boise, ID

Total WalletHub score: 59.03

Rental market & affordability rank: 68

Quality of life rank: 15

Idaho’s capital city is also its largest. Nicknamed “The City of Trees,” Boise is an outdoor-lover’s paradise with numerous adventure opportunities in the mountains, rivers, lakes, and canyons that surround the city. Residents enjoy an affordable cost of living with a low income tax rate.


#13. Sioux Falls, SD

Total WalletHub score: 59.15

Rental market & affordability rank: 4

Quality of life rank: 86

Low unemployment and positive recent job growth are just two reasons residents love living in Sioux Falls. With plenty of outdoor activities, a history dating back centuries, and a budding culinary scene, it’s no surprise that Sioux Falls has seen a population increase of more than 70% in the last 18 years.


#12. Nashua, NH

Total WalletHub score: 59.48

Rental market & affordability rank: 57

Quality of life rank: 13

Located just under an hour’s drive from Boston, the southern New Hampshire city has all the benefits of its state with no income or sales tax. It also features low unemployment, with industry advances like the nashuaHUB startup business incubator.


#11. Irvine, CA

Total WalletHub score: 59.49

Rental market & affordability rank: 111

Quality of life rank: 4

Industry and quality of life come together in this Orange County city. Irvine is home to more than 100 global corporations. It also sports 16,000 acres of park and natural space, and has a thriving culinary scene with attractions like the first-ever Hello Kitty Grand Cafe.


#10. Tempe, AZ

Total WalletHub score: 59.50

Rental market & affordability rank: 28

Quality of life rank: 28

The Phoenix-adjacent city is home to the main campus of Arizona State University. Along with year-round sunshine like most places in the state, Tempe also offers positive job growth and plenty of outdoor recreational activities like hiking, biking, and horseback riding.


#9. Mesa, AZ

Total WalletHub score: 59.56

Rental market & affordability rank: 38

Quality of life rank: 23

This Arizona city near Phoenix and Scottsdale is the third-largest in the state. It offers big-city advantages with more of a laid-back feel. Year-round sunny days make it a perfect place to enjoy outdoor activities like hiking and golf.


#8. Lincoln, NE

Total WalletHub score: 61.41

Rental market & affordability rank: 19

Quality of life rank: 29

Nebraska’s capital city is the center of government, commerce, arts, and healthcare in the state. Lincoln also enjoys a low unemployment rate and affordable cost of living, with most jobs in the city being offered by the government, University of Nebraska, and Goodyear.


#7. Overland Park, KS

Total WalletHub score: 61.76

Rental market & affordability rank: 17

Quality of life rank: 16

Located just outside Kansas City, Overland Park is the second-largest city in the state. With redevelopment underway, new mixed-use spaces are popping up in the downtown area. Residents of Overland Park enjoy low unemployment rates and steady job growth, which is expected to increase 39.6% over the next 10 years.


#6. Bismarck, ND

Total WalletHub score: 63.00

Rental market & affordability rank: 3

Quality of life rank: 50

North Dakota’s capital city sits on the Missouri River. Lewis and Clark passed through Bismarck in the early 1800s, but it wasn’t founded until 1872 and started to grow with the transcontinental railway and discovery of gold in the Black Hills. Today, Bismarck offers families safe neighborhoods, a lower than average commute, low unemployment, and a thriving cultural scene.


#5. Fargo, ND

Total WalletHub score: 63.16

Rental market & affordability rank: 2

Quality of life rank: 49

The largest city in North Dakota, Fargo sits on the Minnesota border along the Red River. Fargo enjoys a low unemployment rate, and agriculture makes up a high percentage of the local economy. The city is diversifying in jobs with other professional opportunities in government, education, medicine, and manufacturing.


#4. Gilbert, AZ

Total WalletHub score: 66.16

Rental market & affordability rank: 7

Quality of life rank: 9

Gilbert sits southeast of Phoenix, and was once known as the “Hay Shipping Capital of the World.” The city has modernized considerably in recent years, offering a dynamic food scene complete with a local craft brewery. The city is rated by Niche as the best place to raise a family in Arizona.


#3. Chandler, AZ

Total WalletHub score: 66.41

Rental market & affordability rank: 22

Quality of life rank: 3

The city that sits southeast of Phoenix boasts 330 sunny days every year. It’s also a hub for technology and has been ranked as the second-fastest growing metro area in North America for tech sector jobs. Chandler also boasts 65 community parks and a rich cultural scene that features an annual jazz festival.


#2. Peoria, AZ

Total WalletHub score: 66.72

Rental market & affordability rank: 12

Quality of life rank: 2

Boosting more than 300 sunny days every year, numerous city parks, and 25 miles of trails, this Phoenix suburb is an attractive place to live for anyone. Peoria is also the home of the Peoria Sports Complex: the spring training home of the San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners.


#1. Scottsdale, AZ

Total WalletHub score: 69.26

Rental market & affordability rank: 14

Quality of life rank: 1

The dynamic desert city just east of Phoenix offers residents everything from business opportunities to plenty of ways to relax and enjoy its natural surroundings. Scottsdale also enjoys low unemployment and positive job growth that is predicted to grow nearly 42% in the next decade.

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