Best cities for renters and new grads

Zillow and used different criteria to come up with their '10 best' lists. Columbus, Ohio, was the only city to make both lists.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Jul 23, 2013 12:57PM

© Dana Hoff/Beateworks/CorbisWe’ve written many times about the growth in renter households, among young people and baby boomers.

Zillow has rounded up the 10 big cities where you can get the most bang for your rental buck. To do the calculations, the real-estate portal looked at current rental prices, cost per square foot, the change since last year in rents and the rent-versus-buy equation. The company even picked out a representative house for rent in each city.


And the winner is: Kansas City, Mo., ranked as the top market for renters – though other rankings pick it as a top spot for buyers.


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In Kansas City, Zillow found a two-bedroom, 2.5-bath house for rent with a partially finished basement, cedar deck and professionally landscaped yard for $1,100 a month. While the home is lovely, the location may not be the most desirable, unless you work at Kansas City International Airport, near this remote subdivision.

The second-ranking city was Wichita, Kan., where a 900-square-foot walkout basement apartment with one bedroom and one bath was going for $900 a month. Again, we think you can do better in Wichita, which does have affordable housing.

The rest of the Zillow list, in order:
  • El Paso, Texas: three-bedroom, two-bath house for $950.
  • Las Vegas: three-bedroom, two-bath house for $1,150.
  • Virginia Beach, Va.: three-bedroom, three-bath house for $1,500.
  • Tucson, Ariz.: two-bedroom, two-bath apartment for $715.
  • Fresno, Calif.: two-bedroom, one-bath house for $945.
  • Columbus, Ohio: three-bedroom, one-bath house for $800.
  • New Orleans: three-bedroom, one-bath house for $1,100.
  • Milwaukee: three-bedroom, one-bath-plus house for $1,500.

If those cities don’t suit, came up with a list of its top 10 cities for new college graduates, who are presumed to be renters. The list was based on affordability, with a one-bedroom apartment rent costing no more than 25% of gross income, as well as employment rates and cities with a higher number of residents ages 25 to 29.

The only city on both lists was Columbus, Ohio, the home of Ohio State University and the state capital.

Based on those criteria, the top cities, with the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment, were:

  • Phoenix, $708
  • Orlando, Fla., $857
  • San Antonio, $794
  • Columbus, Ohio, $634
  • Austin, Texas, $1,006
  • Raleigh, N.C., $788
  • Oklahoma City, $722
  • Fort Worth, Texas, $795
  • Dallas, $983
  • Minneapolis, $1,177
Oct 12, 2013 2:28PM
NO rent controls. Do you really think giant corporate rental corps in Cal, Chicago care about a little guy who can barely eat They are hollowing out the very neighborhoods they own property in.  Gates won't keep out even more desperate people who want to prey on complexes  It's time local  sm businesses and local government sit on these guys  A few giant greedy companies destroying local economies
Oct 11, 2013 11:25PM
Greedy landlords are the problem... Rents are not supposed to be their sole source of income, lazy landlords should get a job and stop using other peoples income for profit.  The real Estate industry is a scam... Buying a house shoul be like a car, when you drive it off the lot it automatically looses value... A home should too!  Our economy will never recover and hosing is going to drop again because this country over built itself with tons of crappy homes made out of paper board and cheap plastic products... The suckers who paid $350,000 will never plunk down that amount ever again.
Jul 28, 2013 3:58PM
Owners of homes where ever you go, need to pull there head out of there a--, or they can wish in one hand, and sh--in the other hand.
Jul 28, 2013 3:12PM
Why isn't Lawrence, KS on here? I scored a one bedroom apt. for $475/mo right across from the KU stadium. Farther ones cost around $400/mo with most utilities except electric and gas paid for. I'm willing to best the midwest apartments are a lot cheaper than those on the east or west coast.
Jul 28, 2013 9:54AM
--Florida Intracoastal townhouse, 1700 square feet, two bedroom plus loft with closet, two and one-half baths, on a private marina with its own 45 foot boat slip that I will rent for $1500 mo. on the Intracoastal Waterway between St Augustine and Daytona Beach!  Contact me:
Jul 28, 2013 7:31AM

I just bought a 2,200 square foot home for 22,200.  Paid Cash and moving from phoenix, AZ to Ludlow, KY with a great view of the Ohio River, Green, and a lot of fishing.


Things are crazy here in Arizona when it come to cost.  All of your people rent cost more than my mortgage did.


Jul 28, 2013 7:10AM
And why isn't Fargo, ND on here? One beds start at 400 with most utilities paid.
Jul 28, 2013 7:05AM
Ive got a 5 bedroom brick ranch with a finished basement and roof mounted swamp cooler for $1190 in Arvada, Colorado.  Excellent schools, close to the mountains, I think Ill stick here over Wichita, Ks!

Jul 28, 2013 5:05AM

You can get a great 2 bedroom in Atlanta GA for 900-1100 with pools etc. And its a much better climate than Columbus Ohio , 250 miles to Florida and a lot more to do than Raleigh NC


Plus the sheer size of Atlanta's DMA gives you great choices. Yes we have traffic but you learn when NOT to drive around. I am an hour from spectacular mountains and lakes and 6 hours from beaches on either the Atlantic or Gulf. Winters are mild (53 average Jan high) Springs and Fall with great colors and temps, and a not so bad summer with lows in the 60s, highs 80s to 90. Has not topped 90 yet this summer. Plus we are the most heavily forested city on the PLANET. A lot of people put Atlanta down but it is pure envy. That is why even at  66 I live here.

Oh, almost forgot. The people are nice and polite.

Jul 23, 2013 10:09PM

Don't come to metro Denver.  The economy  is rising above the national average with building going on everywhere. House prices and apartment rents have jumped 10% in just the last year.

Frankly the mountain views aren't worth it. The traffic congestion here is very bad and getting worse by the month.

Jul 23, 2013 6:05PM
In Sacramento Ca one can get a one bedroom anywhere for under $1000 and that's almost brand new with lots of amenities too. Seen them as low as $600
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