When you think of the legendary NBA dynasties, you think of the greats like the Showtime-era Los Angeles Lakers from 1979 to 1991, the Boston Celtics from 1979 to 1988 and of course, Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls between 1990 and 1998. Those were great teams with stadiums in bustling metropolises, but the league is different now.
Great players now jump from team to team, sometimes on a yearly basis, and this creates hot teams, which in turn, create hot cities. Hot, vibrant cities, with incredible sports fans, especially NBA fans. But now that the league has no active dynasties, how does an NBA fan figure out where to scout for potential apartments?
There are a number of ways to determine the best cities to live in for basketball fans, from the number of consecutive sellouts to highest TV ratings. But at Apartment Guide, we crunched all the numbers and uncovered the definitive ranking of best NBA cities for renters.
To determine our top 10, we looked at a variety of data points from across the spectrum including city affordability, cost to attend a game, team success and popularity.
Many Southern hoops hotbeds rose to the top of the list, as did four of five cities in the Southwest Division. Here are the best basketball cities for renters in America according to our rankings.
It makes sense that Dallas made this list. The team is run by Mark Cuban, the spry, hotshot investor who not only puts money into his team, but into the city of Dallas. And over the last 13 years, the Mavericks have become a powerhouse with the scrappiness of the Bad Boys-era Detroit Pistons.
Dallas really blossomed as a big NBA city in 2006 when Cuban was able to assemble a Mavericks team that reached the NBA Finals. The Mavs lost to the Houston Rockets, but that's all it took for Dallas to believe it was a real contending city. Since then, the team gets the highest average attendance in the top 10 (third in the league),
While Dallas' cost of living dips into the triple digits (106.2), it's nowhere near as high as San Francisco who came in at 201.7 (that's 101.7 percent above the national average). That said, being a Mavs fan isn't cheap. It's going to cost you $196.47 for two tickets, a couple of hot dogs, two beers and parking. That's on the high side for this top 10 list, but nothing compared to what New York Knicks fans pay for the same bill: $453.56 — the highest in the league, and they haven't won a Finals since 1973!
We might be living in the days of the Milwaukee Bucks' first big streak of greatness since the Sidney Moncrief era of 1979 to 1990 when the Bucks won six straight division titles and had an 11-year string of .500-plus seasons.
Now with the league's MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and Eric Bledsoe leading the charge and a brand new home in the Fiserv Forum, Bucks fans might be in on the ground floor of a dynasty in the making.
In terms of rent, the average cost of a one-bedroom apartment in the city is $1,255, which is on the high end of our list but about a third of what you'd pay for an apartment near the Brooklyn Nets' Barclays Center. Rent for a one-bedroom near Barclays will set you back $3,712 on average.
Like the NFL, the NBA season overlaps all of the winter months, so if you can stand the cold winters, Milwaukee is going to make a lot of NBA fans very happy, very soon. After all, if the 2018 Bucks were two games away from a Finals with the Golden State Warriors, they're primed for a big run for a ring.
The Hornets were part of the NBA's expansion in 1988 along with the Miami Heat. That was 31 years ago, and the Heat has established itself as a powerhouse with three NBA Finals, and a mini-dynasty with back-to-back championships led by LeBron James.
Charlotte, on the other hand, has been a city with an identity crisis. In 2002, the Hornets became the Bobcats and moved to New Orleans only to return back to Charlotte in 2004. In 2014, the Bobcats went back to being called the Hornets. Confused? How do you think Charlotte fans feel?
Things might change soon, though. NBA fans are buzzing about the combination of Terry Rozier and Dwayne Bacon. They're a young team, but it's easy to be a Hornets fan — the Spectrum Center is easy to get in and out of (thanks to smart city planning), and our metrics show that Charlotte fans pay the least for a night out at the courts.
Hometown Charlotte fans also pay a little more rent than basketball fans who live in 50 percent of the other cities on this list, but the cost of living is on the reasonable side at about 4 percent below the national average. Again, the Hornets are the team on the rise on this list and Charlotte fans will have to be patient for a couple of seasons for this city to blow up into a major basketball town.
You can thank LeBron James for making a night out at the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse arena watching the Cleveland Cavaliers the most expensive night out on this list (and fifth overall in the league). At $277 for two tickets, two beers, a couple of dogs and parking, the influence of James has carried over, two full seasons since he wore a Cavs jersey.
Cleveland's other costs offset those inflated prices though. The city is about 4 percent below the national average for cost of living and the average rent for a one-bedroom is $1,256 — No. 11 on the least expensive NBA cities on our list.
But let's veer off the round ball for a second. Cleveland is an exciting town. It has the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, FirstEnergy Stadium for football, the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse for baseball and everything is surrounded by rivers, lakes and historic districts. Cavs fans who rent in C-town will have lots to do while they wait for the next LeBron James to bring them the next ring.
In terms of livability, Salt Lake City mirrors Los Angeles more and more every year. The weather is similar (it gets colder, but the summers are on par with SoCal). Forbes calls SLC's Silicon Slopes the fourth-hottest tech region in America, right behind Silicon Beach, and the majority of renters in both cities live equal distances away from the mountains and the water. (Great if you're the outdoorsy type.)
But that's where the major comparisons end. Unlike Los Angeles, it's very affordable to rent in Salt Lake City. A one-bedroom apartment within a five-minute Uber ride to the Vivint Smart Home Arena averages $1,252 compared to the average rent in Los Angeles at $2,906.
And while the Jazz doesn't have a stacked lineup like the Lakers do with LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Dwight Howard, Utah just had their first serious taste of the playoffs. If the Jazz keep ending the season with postseason appearances and the city's tech industry continues to blow up, Salt Lake City might not be on this list for long.
This is where the elite players start appearing on our list. Now that Russell Westbrook has joined up with James Harden on the Rockets, Houston has become a big basketball town again.
Houston is also the second city that represents the Southwest Division's dominance on our list. Thanks to its cost-of-living percentage (5.5 percent below the national average, the 6th lowest on this list) and low rent averages ($1,185 for a one-bedroom), Houston has a solid overall rating, according to our calculations.
Like the Utah Jazz, we might not be seeing Houston on this list much longer. With a team that looks like they can recreate the '90s magic of the Bulls, Houston could become a basketball town on the level that Chicago is.
Our rankings factor in vital metrics, all important on their own, but the one stat everyone always first zeroes in on is the cost of living percentage. In regards to our number crunching, Memphis ranks as the best NBA city to live for this specific metric, coming in at more than 20 percent below the national average. That goes hand-in-hand with the fact that Grizzlies games are the second-least expensive for tickets, just about $5 less than Charlotte Hornets' games.
In regards to apartment life, Memphis ranks in at No. 3 for inexpensive rent on our list. The average rent for a one-bedroom in Memphis is $969. And in terms of transportation, the Memphis Area Transit Authority's (MATA) green buses make getting to the FedExForum relatively painless. (It's possible to comfortably live car-free in Memphis.)
If Indiana is the Hoosier state, Indianapolis is Hoosier central. Indy's love for basketball is immeasurable and thanks to former local heroes like Reggie Miller, Rik Smits and Larry Bird, the Pacers instill a sense of legacy and pride with everyone who still lives here.
With a strong cost of living about 9 percent below the national average and the average cost of a one-bedroom apartment being $980 (both fourth lowest on our list), Indianapolis is a smart move for basketball fans, on the pro, college and high school level. After all, Indiana is to basketball as Texas is to football, and Indianapolis is where it all begins and ends for local hoops fanatics.
Spurs fans who live in San Antonio have a lot going for themselves: A super-low cost of living, an efficient public transportation system, Coach Popovich and a devastating one-two punch in DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge.
It's also pretty common to find lots of commuters who rent in San Antonio but drive into their tech jobs in Austin. After all, with the average rent for a one-bedroom coming in well under $1,000, the city is getting all of Austin's smart, young runoff.
How long will San Antonio stay this high on our list? As long as Pops sticks around as the Spurs' coach, and he doesn't show any signs of slowing down soon.
Oklahoma City deserves to be on top of our list, as our formula accounts for the perfect storm that the Thunder and the city of Oklahoma have created. But let's bypass the legacy of Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Kevin Durant and forget the team's six division titles in its 11 years of existence (after the Seattle Sonics moved south in 2008 and rebranded themselves the Thunder).
The real value in being a basketball fan in Oklahoma is that the cost of living is near rock bottom, the average rent for a one-bedroom by Chesapeake Energy Arena is $846 — the lowest on this list!
And then you have to factor in that the Thunder always finds itself involved in postseason play. Oklahoma makes perfect sense in being the best city to rent in if you're an NBA fanatic.
Below are the full rankings for all NBA teams in America (the Toronto Raptors were not included). While affordable Middle America cities rank very high on the list, large coastal cities with rabid fan bases like Los Angeles, New York, Boston and San Francisco did not fare as well due to the high cost of living.
|Rank||City||State||Team||Cost to Attend Game (2018-2019)||Regular Season Wins (Since 2014-2015)||Facebook Followers (in millions)||Average Attendance (2018-2019)||Average 1-BR Rent||Cost of Living|
|6||Salt Lake City||UT||Jazz||$139.00||227||1.81||18,306||$1,251.79||103.4|
To determine the best basketball cities for renters in America, we looked at the 29 cities in the U.S. (sorry Drake and Toronto Raptors fans) where NBA teams are located. We then looked at five factors and gave each city a score from 1 to 29. We weighted the scores as follows:
After weighing the ranks, we then added up the scores for each city. The city with the lowest overall score was determined to be the best basketball city for renters.
San Francisco, Indianapolis, Salt Lake City and Minneapolis were used as the primary city for the Warriors, Pacers, Jazz and Timberwolves, respectively. Los Angeles was used for the Lakers and Clippers.
The city with the lowest average rent received a score of 1 and the city with the highest average rent received a score of 29.
The rent information included in this article is based on October 2019 multifamily rental property inventory on Apartment Guide and Rent.com and is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein does not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.
The city with the lowest cost of living received a score of 1 and the city with the highest cost of living received a score of 29.
The cost of living score is based on Q2 2019 cost of living percentages compared to the national average from the Council for Community and Economic Research. We used the Q1 2019 cost of living score for Milwaukee because Q2 numbers were not available.
The city with the lowest cost to attend a game received a score of 1 and the city with the highest cost received a score of 29.
The price for the Golden State Warriors reflects costs in Oracle Arena in 2018-2019. The team has moved to the Chase Center for this season.
The city with the most regular victories since the 2014-2015 season received a score of 1 and the city with the fewest victories received a score of 29.
The number of regular-season victories is reported by Basketball Reference.
We looked at two metrics for team popularity: Average attendance in 2018-2019 and the number of Facebook followers for each team. For each of these metrics, the cities with the highest numbers received a score of 1 and the cities with the lowest numbers received a score of 29. We then added the number of each and divided by two to determine the popularity rank for each team.
The average attendance for the Golden State Warriors reflects tickets sold at Oracle Arena in 2018-2019. The team has moved to the Chase Center for this season.