When thinking about the cities with the cheapest rent in America, you probably aren't thinking about New York. In fact, former mayoral candidate Jimmy McMillan once famously declared, “The rent is too damn high." But head away from the big cities and you'll find plenty of cheap places to rent.
So just where are these places with the cheapest rent in America? As expected, the cheapest cities for renters are away from the coasts and metropolises, in suburbs and tucked-away cities and mostly concentrated in Southern states.
In this report:
These budget-friendly burbs are home to America's most affordable apartments. And out of nearly 1,350 cities in the nation with 50 or more rental units, only these ten cheap places to rent offer an average one-bedroom unit under $570.
Here are the 10 cheapest places to rent in America.
More than 100,000 screaming football fans filling Tiger Stadium, the eighth largest in the world. That's the scene each fall Saturday in Baton Rouge. But what if it weren't in Baton Rouge? Did you know that for its first decade, Louisiana State University was not in the State Capitol, but instead 100 miles up the road in tiny Pineville?
A city of 14,000, Pineville sits across the Red River from Alexandria as its largest suburb. Pineville is an important medical community, home to Central Louisiana State Hospital, Pinecrest Services Center, Huey P. Long Memorial Hospital and the Alexandria VA Center. It's also the site of Alexandria National Cemetery, home to 1,400 Civil War buried casualties. And while no LSU, Southern Baptist-founded Louisiana College is in Pineville, along with 7,000-seat Wildcat Football Field.
One of several Louisiana towns on the list of cheapest rent in America, rental rates in Pineville stayed at identical levels from 12 months ago. A one-bedroom apartment runs an average of $565 monthly.
Fun Fact: Pineville is the location of the Louisiana Maneuvers Museum. This facility honors the U.S. Army training exercises held nearby prior to World War II. Some of the nearly half-million troops trained here included Dwight Eisenhower, George Patton and Omar Bradley.
Hunkered down between the massive Ozark and Ouachita National Forests, Russellville sits inside the river valley along the Arkansas River and Lake Dardanelle near northwest Arkansas. The city houses just 28,000 residents, many of whose lives and livelihoods center on either the 10,000-enrollment Arkansas Tech University or Arkansas Nuclear One nuclear power plant, the only such facility in the state.
Despite its small size, there is much happening in Russellville. The city offers a lively music and arts scene with a monthly downtown Art Walk which features local galleries, live music and wine tastings, and the Pope County Fairgrounds which bring over 50,000 fans to the annual county fair.
Like much of Arkansas, rents in Russellville are severely affordable. An average one-bedroom unit leases for a monthly rate of just $559, up 5.6 percent from last year.
Fun Fact: The men's athletic teams from Arkansas Tech are called the Wonder Boys. But in 1975, the women athletes of ATU, tired of being referred to as the Wonder Girls or Wonderettes, voted themselves the new non-gendered nickname Golden Suns, becoming one of just nine current NCAA schools where the men's and women's teams have unrelated nicknames.
On the extreme western border of Louisiana along the Sabine River is the Parish of Vernon. And the Parish seat is the key city of Leesville. Leesville is a town of 6,600 just 16 miles from the East Texas border but is still the third-largest in the DeRidder/Fort Polk South region.
Leesville is an important military town, dating back to the Civil War and the nearby "Confederate Breast Works" armory. Then in 1941, Fort Polk opened on the south end of town, becoming a major U.S. Army training camp during World War II. During this time, the population of Leesville boomed and its economy shifted as Fort Polk eventually became the fifth largest military facility in the nation.
To serve all those residents, Leesville offers a number of recreational sites. Leesville Art Park features a number of sculptures and outdoor art installations. The Edmond Ellison Smart House is the home of Leesville founder Edmond Ellison Smart. And the Museum of West Louisiana houses exhibits including a collection of paintings by German prisoners of war housed at Fort Polk during World War II.
Leesville is a getaway and civilian housing town for one of America's great military bases. Thankfully, lease prices here are cheap. An average one-bedroom unit rents for just $552, nearly 5 percent less than a year ago.
Fun Fact: For 15 years at the start of the 19th century, Leesville was part of Louisiana's Neutral Ground territory. Because of a border dispute between the U.S. and Spain, parts of the state along the Sabine were outside the jurisdiction of either country. The lack of police or military in the region allowed it, and the town, to become a haven for outlaws.
The county seat and largest city in Hunt County, Greenville, Texas, sits on the outskirts of the massive Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. While the commute to downtown Dallas is just an hour, the city benefits from being far removed from the hustle of both the big city and the crowded North Texas mega suburbs like Plano and Irving.
That doesn't mean Greenville is some sleepy burgh. The city features a major L3 Technologies facility, a 50-arrival per day general aviation airport that formerly trained World War II fighter pilots, a downtown winery, a vintage theater, the Audie Murphy American Cotton Museum and a Splash Kingdom Waterpark location.
Considering its convenience to the best of big city life while maintaining its small-town feel, its average rent of $551 a month for a one-bedroom apartment isn't just cheap, it's a downright steal. And that's even with a nearly 5 percent increase in price from 12 months prior.
Fun Fact: Early in the 20th century, Greenville was known as the “Cotton Capital of the World." The city was home to the largest inland cotton compress on the planet, which was eventually destroyed by fire.
The third of the four Bayou State communities in our top 10, Brusly is a small sliver of a town on the Mississippi. Just downriver from Downtown Baton Rouge, Brusly sits on the shore opposite Louisiana State University. The town of 2,500 is a rectangle three miles long but just a half-mile wide.
Brusly is a small bedroom community for Baton Rouge. The suburb is nearly entirely residential, split down a central flood control channel along its spine. Several rental properties live alongside mostly single-family homes.
A small commercial district lies along Louisiana Highway 1 and its service road Vaughan Drive. This includes mostly independent and chain restaurants along with banks, service merchants and a sports bar. Alexander Park offers a number of ballfields and a batting cage.
Fun Fact: The first skatepark in West Baton Rouge Parish opened in Brusly in 2015. The $70,000 park opened in response to the lack of available facilities in the wake of the Parish's no-skate zone regulations. It includes several ramps, funboxes and handrails.
One of the most famous twin cities in the nation, Texarkana, Arkansas — as its name suggests — sits just across State Line Avenue from the slightly-larger Texarkana, Texas. Early in its history, Texarkana — the Arkansas side — was part of a battle with the independent Republic of Texas for land, as the two nations fought over the placement of their borders. Coming of age as a rail and lumber hub, today the city's economy centers around agricultural processing, sales and service.
While a distinct city from its neighbor across the border with its own mayor and own government, the twin cities share one courthouse, one federal building, one jail and one post office, among other services. But it's on the Arkansas side where the living is easy, with a one-bedroom apartment renting for just $542 a month on average.
Fun Fact: While most know the city name Texarkana is a portmanteau of Texas and Arkansas, few realize the moniker is actually a triple portmanteau, with the “-ana" ending referencing Louisiana, just 30 miles away.
Imagine spending your days in a beautiful city along the stunning northern Gulf Coast. A spot halfway between Biloxi and Mobile, halfway between Gulfport and Pensacola. Gorgeous bays and sunny beaches. Spring breakers, golfers and sun-seekers. Now imagine paying just $539 a month for an average one-bedroom apartment. That's Pascagoula on Mississippi's Gulf Coast.
Pascagoula sits along the Pascagoula River out of Pascagoula Bay. Just like much of the northern Gulf Coast, the energy and shipbuilding industries are key to the local economy. Owned by Huntington Ingalls Industries, Ingalls Shipbuilding is Mississippi's largest private, single-site employer. Dating back to 1938, Ingalls is the U.S. Navy's leading ship producer. Just to its south is the former Naval Station Pascagoula. Also, on the east side of town is Chevron Pascagoula Refinery, the energy company's largest in the world.
Along with its industry, Pascagoula features two miles of beachfront, 26 parks, four boat launches and a private yacht club. Culture is everywhere, including LaPointe-Krebs House & Museum and Mississippi Maritime Museum. It also offers bustling commercial districts along Denny Avenue and Market Street.
While apartment prices did increase by about 7 percent since last year, this area is still one of the most favorable, and cheapest, places to rent in America.
Fun Fact: In 1973, Charles Hickson and Calvin Parker reported to county sheriffs in Pascagoula that they were abducted by aliens while fishing off a pier. The two claimed they were abducted by robot-mouthed, crab-handed aliens who took them aboard their spaceship and examined them. Each had puncture wounds in their arms and both passed lie detector tests and hypnosis questioning. Police stated they believed them. Today, the Pascagoula Abduction is honored with an historical marker.
Sure, Marion is the home of Indiana Wesleyan, the largest private university in Indiana. Yeah, Marion High School has won eight state basketball championships in this hoops-crazy state. Proudly, Marion is the site of one of just six branches of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, assisting veterans from across the nation for 150 years. But the one thing that may have put Marion on the map was the 1993 wedding of Julia Roberts and Lyle Lovett that took place at Marion's St. James Lutheran Church on the way to Lovett's tour date in Indianapolis.
But you don't have to be a country star or Hollywood starlet to enjoy life in Marion. A city of nearly 30,000, Marion sits equidistant from Indianapolis and Fort Wayne. It's a bustling county seat on the Mississinewa River. Downtown along the river is the 2.75-mile Mississinewa Riverwalk, a hiking and biking trail that transforms each holiday season into the Christmas City Walkway of Lights with over 2 million lights.
Downtown also offers a number of shops and restaurants, parks, trails and even the Quilters Hall of Fame. Further west of the river is the commercial corridor along Baldwin and Western Avenues, lined with chain eateries, big box stores and service merchants leading up to the University.
Marion is the cheapest large city (over 20,000) in the entire United States for renters. An average one-bedroom apartment rents for just $533 a month.
Fun Fact: Julia Roberts wasn't the only Hollywood icon to darken the doorways of Marion. Actor James Dean was born in the city, and a memorial sits at his birth site. Cartoonist Jim Davis, creator of “Garfield," also called Marion home.
On a bayou, 75 miles from New Orleans and a dozen miles from the Gulf, is the small marshy town of Patterson. The community, founded by Pennsylvania Dutch resettlers, was originally named Dutch Settlement, then Dutch Prairie, then Dutch Town, until Captain John Patterson arrived in 1832. Patterson opened the town's first commercial business, established a post office and the town was renamed after him.
A century later, the aircraft industry came to town. It started when Patterson resident and millionaire Harry Williams and aerospace engineer Jimmy Wedell founded Wedell-Williams Air Service Corporation in Patterson. They then opened a factory in town and engineered a number of early aircraft, along with creating Louisiana's first commercial airline. The company is a direct ancestor of Eastern Airlines.
Today, the town on Bayou Teche has a population of over 6,000. Since it's surrounded by grain fields and swamp, Patterson is mostly inhabited by single-family homes and mobile home parks in residential neighborhoods. Friendly pizza places, chain restaurants and service stations line US Route 90 which runs through the city.
Living the bayou life in Patterson is cheap. Among all the towns in Louisiana that dot our top ten, Patterson is the cheapest at just $485 monthly on average for a one-bedroom apartment.
Fun Fact: In 1933, Jimmy Wedell set a new airspeed record of 305 mph in a Patterson-built Wedell-Williams Model 44. Three replica 44s are on display at Paterson's Wedell-Williams Aviation & Cypress Sawmill Museum. Interestingly, the museum contains both collections of early racing airplanes and industrial sawmill memorabilia.
East Grand Forks tops our list of cheap places to rent. As you might guess, the Minnesota city is east of Grand Forks. It sits across the Red River over the North Dakota border. As the cheapest place for renters in America for 2021, apartment prices dropped a massive 14 percent from last year, and the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in East Grand Forks is just $442 a month.
Arts, culture, education and industry are closely tied to the O.G. Grand Forks over the river. But there is a lot to East Grand Forks on its own. Much of “EGF" was shaped by the Great Flood of 1997. That's when the Red River Flood damaged nearly every structure in town, and several neighborhoods ended up demolished.
After that, brand new neighborhoods grew, including rental properties and apartment complexes. A revitalized downtown added a multiplex movie theater and a large destination sporting goods store along with several new eateries.
It also led to the creation of the Greater Grand Forks Greenway. Twice the size of Central Park, the 2,200 acre Greenway lies in the area devastated by flooding where houses and businesses once stood. A dike system now protects the area that is home to parks, golf courses, a disc golf course, hiking and biking trails, a state campground, athletic fields, gardens, a wildlife preserve and a flood memorial.
Today, the city holds a number of community festivals including Catfish Days, Heritage Days and the Frosty Bobber fishing tournament. Additionally, it shares many events with its North Dakota neighbor including the Potato Bowl Parade and First Night.
Fun Fact: East Grand Forks has a colorful history. In the 1930s, the city — with a population of just 3,000 — licensed nearly 50 saloons. “Ripley's Believe It Or Not" listed downtown as having the highest concentration of neon lights in the world. A newspaper in Johannesburg, South Africa, at the time dubbed EGF "The Wickedest City in the World."
If these 10 locations don't do it for you, there are plenty of other affordable cities with the cheapest rent in America. Here are the top 100 cheap places to rent, all under $800 a month.
|Rank||City||1BR Average Rent Price||YoY Average Rent Change|
|1||East Grand Forks, MN||$442||-14.34%|
|17||Junction City, KS||$605||-0.22%|
|18||Bay City, TX||$607||-1.59%|
|21||Devils Lake, ND||$627||35.04%|
|23||Wichita Falls, TX||$632||1.43%|
|24||Oil City, LA||$635||0.00%|
|25||Terre Haute, IN||$638||-7.48%|
|30||Del City, OK||$650||-1.90%|
|41||Port Arthur, TX||$675||6.48%|
|42||Sierra Vista, AZ||$676||15.06%|
|49||Warner Robins, GA||$694||-9.89%|
|51||Johnson City, TN||$701||0.76%|
|53||State College, PA||$706||-2.37%|
|58||Sioux Falls, SD||$720||-8.88%|
|78||Oklahoma City, OK||$769||-11.40%|
|85||Glens Falls, NY||$775||N/A|
|88||North Little Rock, AR||$780||7.39%|
|91||Grand Forks, ND||$785||4.26%|
|92||Cedar Rapids, IA||$786||8.64%|
|100||Brooklyn Park, MN||$799||-37.57%|
Not everyone can live in one of the cities with the cheapest rent in America. So when you're searching for a new home, whether it be in a new place or elsewhere in your current place, how can you still keep your lease costs down? Here are a few basic tips to still find a cheap place to rent.
We all walk into the apartment search with a list of features and amenities we most desire. This usually includes things like a dishwasher, in-suite washer and dryer, proximity to a train stop, pet-friendly, secluded, near restaurants or a location on the first floor. If you are looking to save some money, decide which of your desired features are most important and which you can live without. When you have fewer must-haves on your list, more options will open to you for an affordable lease.
Some one-bedroom apartments can still be spacious and others downright small. But think about just how much time you spend at home compared to at work or out on the town, and consider a smaller apartment. If you can give up some of that square footage, you'll bring the price of the lease down. It's nice to have a lot of room to stretch out in an apartment, but it's also nice to have more money to stretch out your wallet.
Sure, living downtown around the clubs, cafes and hotspots is wonderful. But if you're on a budget looking for a more affordable apartment, you might consider giving up some of that convenience. Downtowns and trendy gentrified neighborhoods are usually more expensive. Instead, find a more residential neighborhood in your city or a lower-income section of town that's targeted for future redevelopment. Or, find a convenient cheaper suburb with access to public transportation to live in, even if you work and play in the city.
If your job is transportable to any city, or you work a remote job, consider a move to a different city. Everyone might want to live in New York or L.A., but you can find amazing nightlife, sports and fun in places like Indianapolis or Memphis or Denver for much cheaper.
Just because an apartment lists for a particular price, that doesn't mean that's the price you have to pay. Meet with the landlord and see if you can negotiate the price down lower. Be respectful and willing to compromise. Come with two prices in mind: The one you open with and the one you're willing to pay. Bring reference letters and show you'd be a good tenant.
Also remember it's ok to walk away if you can't get your price.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development offers a number of subsidies and grants for renters with a lower income who have trouble affording rent. Check out the HUD website and see if you qualify.
The information to find cheap places to rent is based on February 2021 one-bedroom rental property inventory on Apartment Guide and Rent.com and is used for illustrative purposes only. Cities were excluded if they did not have at least 50 properties in our available inventory. The data contained herein does not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.