New York mayoral candidate Jimmy McMillan famously declared, “The rent is too damn high." Well, in the Big Apple, that's most likely true, but not everywhere across the country. Folks in certain cheap places to rent are paying around six times less than their New York counterparts.
So, where are these cities where it's so affordable to rent an apartment?
As expected, the cheapest cities for renters are away from the coasts and metropolises, in suburbs and tucked-away cities and mostly concentrated in one Southern state.
These budget-friendly locales, home of America's cheapest places to rent, are the only 10 cities in the entire nation (with 50 or more rental units) where an average one-bedroom apartment costs for less than $600 a month.
Of the 24 Springfields that dot the United States, the one that calls southwestern Michigan home is the cheapest place of them all for renters. This Springfield, just the eighth largest suburb, is a geographically small district that sits between the North Branch of the Kalamazoo River and the W. K. Kellogg Airport & Air National Guard Base.
The highly industrialized and retail suburb also offers a number of popular public parks, including Rothchild Park, B. Carol Hinton Park, Upton Park with a large pond for fishing and model boat racing and the 20-acre Begg Park.
Begg Park is home to the Springfield Farmers' Market, a year-round farmers' market housed in a 9,500-square-foot facility with a dining area that also hosts the city's annual classic car show, chili cook-off and holiday market.
Springfield is actually an enclave of Battle Creek, meaning the entire town is surrounded by Battle Creek on all sides. Residents can take comfort in the fact that they pay less than their cereal-making neighbors, spending just $580 a month for an average one-bedroom.
Fun Fact: Begg Park in Springfield features a professional-level disc golf course, which hosted the 2008 Disc Golf World Championship won by Valarie Jenkins and David Feldberg.
Just southeast of metro Cleveland is the Mahoning Valley, the buckle of the Rust Belt known as Steel Valley. And halfway between the Valley's two largest cities, Youngstown and Warren, is Niles, a city of about 20,000. Having survived violent race riots in the 1930s, the collapse of the steel industry in the 1970s and a deadly tornado in the 1980s, Niles today is a thriving eastern Ohio river town housing an increasingly-younger population, best known as the birthplace of William McKinley, the 25th President of the United States.
Several attractions are stationed throughout the city of Niles, including Eastwood Field where the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, two-decade-long affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, play, the Ward-Thomas Museum and Niles Historical Society, Eastwood Mall and, of course, the McKinley Birthplace Home and Research Center. Outdoor recreation includes the 4.5-mile-long Niles Greenway Bike Trail, Waddell Park and water activities along the Mahoning River and Mosquito Creek.
The city of Niles is the cheapest city in the entire Upper Midwest/Great Lakes region for renters, with an average one-bedroom running just $579 a month.
Fun Fact: The scrappy town of Niles has seen a lot of scrapping, with a long boxing history. Local boxer Kelly Pavlik knocked out Rico Cason in a 2003 fight broadcast live from Niles on ESPN's Tuesday Night Fights, and former IBF World Lightweight champion Harry Arroyo, a native of Youngstown, won four fights in Niles on his way to a 16-0 record in the '80s.
Where better to find one of the cheapest places to rent in the nation than Kiplinger's 2019 sixth “Cheapest U.S. City to Live In," Conway, AR. But Conway — the first of five Arkansas cities to crack the cheap places to rent top 10 — isn't any sort of shrinking violet when it comes to its economy.
A number of high-tech companies, including Acxiom, DXC and Hewlett-Packard, offer facilities within the city, and despite being just 40 minutes from Little Rock, Arkansas' largest city by far, Conway is a suburban rarity as the majority of its residents don't commute away from the city to work.
Conway is also home to the University of Central Arkansas, which enrolls nearly 11,500 students. The city also sits along the northern shore of Lake Conway, the largest man-made Fish & Game Commission lake in the nation, a popular destination for fishing and water sports.
And, possibly surprising to some, Conway is a mecca for high culture, with its own symphony orchestra, community arts association, national award-winning community theater and the state's only professional Shakespeare theater.
Whether you're both living and working in town like most or commuting into Little Rock, Conway is one of the most affordable places to rent in the nation, despite being only the fourth-best within its own state. An average one-bedroom apartment here leases for just $579 a month.
Fun Fact: Conway is home to the three decade-old Toad Suck Daze Festival, an annual community music, art and food event drawing more than 160,000 visitors each year. The festival is named for the nearby community of Toad Suck, AR, whose name is a corruption of the French phrase for "a narrow channel in the river."
Located in the northeastern Arkansas Ozarks, Jonesboro is the fifth largest city in Arkansas and one of five of that state's cities on our list. Situated along the narrow Crowley's Ridge rolling hills region and a key stopping point on Crowley's Ridge Parkway National Scenic Byway, Jonesboro came to prominence as an important rail town, first by the Cotton Belt Railroad and later the St. Louis/San Francisco Railway and Missouri Pacific Railroad.
Ranked as the No. 9 “Best City for Cheapskates" by Kiplinger's, Jonesboro is home to Arkansas State University, the second-largest higher education institution in the state. The city also features a number of cultural sites, including Forrest L. Wood Crowley's Ridge Nature Center, Bradbury Art Museum and the Arkansas State Museum which features a full mastodon skeleton. Craighead Forest Park is a popular outdoor recreation destination located within the city limits. The city's municipal airport carries more than 4,000 passengers a year to and from St. Louis.
For both full-time residents and ASU students alike, rents in Jonesboro are among the lowest in the nation, with a one-bedroom unit leasing monthly for an average of just $570.
Fun Fact: One of Jonesboro's favorite native sons is actor Rodger Bumpass, who attended Arkansas State and worked as an announcer at local station KAIT. Bumpass went on to provide the voice of Squidward in "SpongeBob SquarePants" and The Chief in "Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?," as well as voice work in films including "Mulan," "A Bug's Life," "Toy Story 2," "The Iron Giant," "Monsters, Inc.," "Cars" and "The Incredibles 2."
Talk about bang for your buck. While the mere 70-acre Missouri town of Ferrellview boasts just more than 800 residents, the community features nearly 100 rental units, mostly in the form of the quaint 180- and 250-square foot efficiencies at the Unicorn Apartments.
Why such a concentration in this small town? Location, location, location. The suburb is just four miles down the street from Kansas City International Airport, a perfect cheap spot for both traveling businesspeople and hub flight crews to lay their heads at night.
Ferrellview sits accessibly at the edge of the Kansas City metropolitan area, just a 20-minute drive from downtown KCMO and convenient to the business parks and amenities of large northern suburbs on both sides of the state line, like Liberty and Claycomo on the Missouri side, and Leavenworth and Lansing across the river in Kansas.
An average one-bedroom apartment here is the most affordable in the Great Plains, with rental prices averaging just $568 monthly.
Fun Fact: Ferrellview was named for local landowner Mary Alice “Mollie" Ferrel Heady, who was born just after the end of the Civil War near Kansas City. Mollie died just after World War II and is interned in nearby Platte City.
For those unfamiliar with the western Pennsylvania town, Indiana sounds like a bit of a geographic misnomer. Along with other oddly-placed Keystone State towns like California and Jersey Shore, Indiana has created its share of confusion from travelers and mapmakers, alike, with its name, which simply refers to “Land of Indians," just like the state to its far west
The city is home of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where 13,000 Crimson Hawks (and not Hoosiers) matriculate. But Hollywood historians will recognize the city as the hometown of Jimmy Stewart, whose identity has become integral to life in Indiana.
In 1983, a bronze statue outside the courthouse was unveiled to celebrate the actor's 75th birthday and a dozen years later, the Jimmy Stewart Museum opened in the Indiana Public Library. Each Christmas season, Indiana holds the "It's a Wonderful Life" holiday celebration in honor of Stewart, with parades, exhibits and a film festival.
While the city of Indiana comes to life around Christmas, living is affordable in this Allegheny town year 'round, with rents running just $554 monthly for an average one-bedroom apartment.
Fun Fact: It's not just Jimmy Stewart that makes holidays a big deal in Indiana. The city is also known as the “Christmas Tree Capital of the World," due to the scores of Christmas tree farms dotting the region.
Hunkered down between the massive Ozark and Ouachita National Forests, Russellville sits inside the river valley along the Arkansas River and Lake Dardanelle in near northwest Arkansas. The city houses just 28,000 residents, many 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's 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 brings more than 50,000 fans to the annual county fair.
Like much of Arkansas, rents in Russellville are severely affordable, with an average one-bedroom unit leasing for a monthly rate of just $542.
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.
One of the most famous twin cities in the nation, Texarkana, AR — as its name suggests — sits just across State Line Avenue from the slightly-larger Texarkana, TX. 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 is centered on 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 easier, with a one-bedroom apartment renting for just $540 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.
The county seat and largest city in Hunt County, Greenville, TX, 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 $533 a month for a one-bedroom apartment isn't just cheap, it's a downright steal.
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.
Congratulations, Arkansas! Not only do you take up half of the top 10 cheap places to rent in America, but you also snagged the No. 1 spot, as well.
Topping our list is Fort Smith, the Natural State's second-largest city, situated at the confluence of the Arkansas and Poteau Rivers on the Oklahoma border. Founded in the early 1800s as a frontier military post, today, Fort Smith is a city of nearly 90,000, featuring a bustling downtown, a four-year university, several manufacturing plants and a number of museums, including the Fort Smith National Historic Site, which features the original fort, barracks, courtroom and jail.
The cheapest city in the nation for renters is also the only one that averages less than 500 bucks, with a one-bedroom leasing for just $466 a month.
Fun Fact: The post at Fort Smith was home to the infamous courthouse of “Hangin' Judge" Isaac Parker, who sentenced 160 convicts to death in his two decades presiding. The judge's tiny, dingy frontier jail held the nickname of “Hell on the Border."
If these 10 locations don't do it for you, there are plenty of other affordable cities in America. Here are the top 100 markets that are cheap places to rent — all are less than $810 a month.
|Rank||City||State||Average 1-BR Rent||1-Year Rent Change|
|53||North Little Rock||AR||$720||4.98%|
Not everyone can live in one of these cheap places to rent. 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.
We all walk into the apartment search with a list of features and amenities we most desire, like a dishwasher, in-suite washer and dryer, proximity to a train stop, pet-friendly, secluded, near restaurants or on a first floor.
If you're looking to save some money, decide which of your desired features are most important and which you can live without. The fewer must-haves you have, the 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 sounds appealing. 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 going to be more expensive. 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 that can be done from anywhere, consider a different city that's one of our cheap places to rent. 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. 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. And don't be afraid 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.
Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and Rent.com's multifamily rental property inventory from April 2019 to April 2020. We use a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each individual unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets. Cities were excluded if they did not have an average of at least 50 properties in our available inventory during that time period.
The data contained herein does not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.