Steve Harper

If you’re looking for rental deals, you’re likely to find them in one of America’s emptiest cities — places hit hard by the real estate downturn and a weak job market.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the percentage of vacant properties, which includes both apartment units and unoccupied homes for sale, has risen by nearly 44 percent nationwide since 2000.

While rental rates are rising in most cities across the country as the popularity of renting increases, the market has yet to recover in certain cities. Read about five empty cities where it’s definitely still a renter's market, as interpreted in this CNBC report.

5. Richmond, VA
With a 15 percent rental vacancy rate — one of the highest in the United States — Richmond definitely offers space to spread out. And it may also offer opportunity to job seekers in the law and finance industries, which are the main drivers of its economy. Home to several Fortune 500 companies and a high concentration of Fortune 1000 companies, Richmond has also been ranked as one of the best cities for business.

4. Detroit, MI
Detroit has been one of the hardest-hit cities since the economic downturn, seeing a record number of foreclosures and a high unemployment rate. Rental vacancies are soaring in this city, though, surprisingly, the average number of unoccupied homes remains quite low. Despite being hit hard, the Motor City is still a great place to live thanks to a rich culture of Motown sound, legendary sports teams and historic architecture.

3. Memphis, TN
Memphis is third overall in the nation for available (read: vacant) homes. A decline in population has led to an abandoning of certain civic hopes. The Pyramid in Memphis, designed as a major entertainment arena venue for the city Elvis Presley made famous, has sat empty for a number of years, though reports indicate the space may reopen as a retail business venture. Meanwhile — for the near future, at least — Memphis finds fewer folks living near musically-famous Beale Street.

2. Dayton, OH
Dayton’s homeowner vacancy rate is falling, which is great news for this empty city’s housing market — but not the rental market, where vacancies are still high. Aerospace, defense and healthcare are strong industries in Dayton. If you’re looking to start a career, Dayton may be the place.

1. Orlando, FL
With rental vacancy rates at nearly 20 percent, Orlando is one of the emptiest cities in the country. But it’s not all doom and gloom for a place that’s been nicknamed “The City Beautiful.” Unlike other empty cities experiencing financial woes, Orlando still has money in its budget, which may be due in part to its distinction as the theme park capital of the world. With Walt Disney World and many other parks attracting tourists year-round, Orlando is one of the most-visited cities in the country.

The five other cities that made the Census Bureau’s top ten list of emptiest locales:

10. Toledo, OH
9. Tampa, FL
8. Houston, TX
7. Atlanta, GA
6. Las Vegas, NV

These cities may be “empty” now, but trends show that the economy’s recovering. You might want to snag a rental deal fast, before they fill up again!

Photo credit: Shutterstock / Joe Belanger




About The Author

Steve Harper enjoys seeking out and writing about topics that matter to renters for the Apartment Guide Blog. He hails from Atlanta, Georgia. Find Steve on Google.