Rental reality: What you can expect to pay in 10 major U.S. cities

You hear this piece of advice all the time: When you’re trying to come up with a rent budget, divide your monthly income by three. That’s the number — one-third of what you bring home in a month — that you should stick to. But with rental rates skyrocketing across the country, renters are spending half of their income (and sometimes more) to stay in their apartments.

This makes it very difficult to come up with a budget that’s both manageable and realistic. You may want a 1,200-square-foot, two-bedroom apartment with a pool in Los Angeles for $1,500 per month, but is that reasonable? analyzed data on average rental rates for one- and two-bedroom apartments, average square footage and the top five most common amenities in 10 major U.S. cities to give you an idea what you can actually expect to spend.


Georgia’s beautiful capital city is known for its gorgeous weather and Southern hospitality, but now it can add another great trait to the list: It’s affordable. Atlanta’s one- and two-bedroom apartments have the lowest average rental rates on the list, at $1,312 and $1,713 a month respectively.

Even better? Atlanta’s apartments are a reasonable size as well, which means the city’s residents pay the least per square foot compared to residents of the other cities. On top of the affordability, the most common amenity in Atlanta apartments listings is a pool. As a result, you’ll get the most bang for your buck in Atlanta.


While Atlanta takes the prize for most bang for your buck, Boston earns the opposite award: least bang for your buck. Despite its small size compared to cities such as New York City, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Chicago, Boston’s apartments are the second most expensive overall (right behind New York City) at $2,957 for one-bedrooms and $3,680 for two-bedrooms.

Boston’s average square footage is almost exactly the same as Atlanta’s, but at nearly $4 per square foot, Bostonians pay more than twice that of Atlantans.


Chicago’s winters are infamous, so maybe they’re the reason the city’s residents are paying relatively reasonable rates ($2,310 for one-bedrooms and $3,273 for two-bedrooms, on average) compared to some of the other cities on the list. Chicago apartments are also pretty roomy. The one-bedrooms in particular have the second highest square footage on the list at 787 square feet, on average.

In Chicago apartment communities, you’re likely to find on-site laundry, hardwood flooring, decks or patios, dishwashers and gyms. If you’ve ever been to Chicago during the summer, you know just how seriously Chicago dwellers take their patios.


Houston is known for its killer shopping opportunities — perhaps that’s why it’s the only city on the list with walk-in closets as one of its top five most common amenities. Walk-in closets aren’t the only reason to move to the Texas city, though.

An average two-bedroom apartment in Houston is about 1,185 square feet, which is the second highest square footage on the list (behind Miami). With a fairly low average rental rate of $2,427 for a two-bedroom, residents are only paying about $2 per square foot.

Los Angeles

As the second biggest city on the list, you’d expect Los Angeles to be a little costly — and you’d be right. One-bedroom apartments in Los Angeles are the third most pricey, behind New York and Boston, with an average rate of $2,756. That’s a whopping $3.53 per square foot. Los Angelenos may also pay a bit more for apartments equipped with pools, patios, gyms and parking — is anyone surprised that these are the most common amenities, though? Classic LA.


Miami: the sun, the beaches, the nightlife. What more could you ask for? Space. Miami apartments offer the highest square footage of any other city, with one-bedrooms at about 828 square feet and two-bedrooms at an average 1,213 square feet. The large apartments, combined with reasonable rental rates ($1,845 and $2,412, on average), make this Florida city a renter’s dream. Unsurprisingly, pools and gyms ranked as the most common amenities in Miami apartments.


Minneapolis is known for its parks, breweries, restaurants and much more. Another great thing about living in Minneapolis? Behind Atlanta, it has the second lowest average rental rates at $1,473 for a one-bedroom and $1,965 for a two-bedroom. As far as amenities go, you can expect to find on-site laundry, parking, patios, central air and dishwashers.

New York City

It’s no surprise that New York City is the most expensive city on our list, with average rental rates of $3,044 and $3,856 for one- and two-bedrooms, respectively. However, because the city offers just a bit more square footage for one-bedrooms than Boston (784 to Boston’s 752), New Yorkers get slightly more for their money than Bostonians. Unlike the other cities on our list, one of the top five most commonly listed amenities in New York City is a building doorman.


Philadelphia comes in dead middle as far as average rental rates — it’s No. 5 on the list for both one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartment rates. Philadelphians pay on average just under $2,000 for a one-bedroom and just over $2,500 for a two-bedroom.

Square footage in Philadelphia seems to be a little hard to come by: At 1,088 feet, Philadelphia’s two-bedroom units have the second least amount of square footage on the list. And what amenities are you most likely to find? Onsite laundry, hardwood flooring and central air take the top three spots.


The final city on the list is Seattle — the gem of the Pacific Northwest that’s known just as much for its amazing seafood and cool locals as it is for its rainy weather. It’s not just the rainy weather that locals have to deal with, though. They also rent apartments with the least square footage of any other city on the list.

The average square footage in Seattle apartments is very low, at 708 square feet for a one-bedroom and just 1,013 square feet for a two-bedroom. Despite somewhat average rental rates ($2,046 and $2,546), the low square footage means Seattle residents are paying more per foot than residents of some of the other cities. A possible bonus? Apartments in this Washington city are likely to come with two amenities that are less prevalent in other cities: storage space and an elevator.

A Common Trend

No matter which of these cities you’re looking at, there’s one thing they all have in common: Two-bedroom apartments offer a lower cost per square foot than one-bedroom apartments. If you’re struggling to come up with a realistic rental budget, you may want to consider finding a place with a roommate.

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Rental Reality: What You Can Expect to Pay in 10 Major U.S. Cities originally appeared on

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