15 Most Affordable Cities to Upsize for a Home Office

remote worker home office
Flamingo Images / Shutterstock.com

This story originally appeared on Filterbuy.

One of the COVID-19 pandemic’s biggest impacts on the labor market has been the remarkable shift to working from home. While working from home is not new, the U.S. has never seen remote work at the current scale. A recent Gallup poll from the fall shows that a whopping 58 percent of U.S. workers were working remotely at least part of the time, yet many lacked sufficient space at home to do so effectively.

Having a dedicated home office can help remote workers be more productive, and sizing up to an apartment with space for a home office may be worthwhile for workers who plan to continue working remotely. However, depending on rent prices and income, renting a larger space is more affordable in some cities than in others. According to income data on renters from the U.S. Census Bureau and rent prices from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), sizing up to an apartment with an additional bedroom costs about 9 percent of monthly income, on average.

An obvious advantage of working from home is not commuting, which saves valuable time and money. Data from HUD shows that commuters who drive the entire way to work spend a median of $242 each month on commuting costs. Carpoolers and those who take public transportation spend less—$132 monthly at the median—while those who drive part of the way (while also using another mode of transportation such as public transportation, walking, or cycling) spend the least at $110 per month. According to fair market rent data from HUD, the median monthly cost of an additional bedroom in the U.S. is $317, meaning upgrading to a larger apartment could be close to cost-neutral for workers in more affordable areas with long and expensive commutes.

The Most Affordable Large Metros to Size Up for a Home Office

Man working remotely on computer at night
Jelena Zelen / Shutterstock.com

Due to geographic differences in rent and median earnings, it is more feasible to rent an additional bedroom in some places than in others. Upsizing is most affordable in the Midwest. In Wisconsin and Nebraska, an additional bedroom costs $215–$220 per month, or just 6.6 percent of monthly income for renters. Upsizing is least affordable in California and Hawaii where adding a bedroom costs an additional $531 to $672 per month, or 11.2 and 13.3 percent of income, respectively.

To find the most affordable locations to size up for a home office, researchers at Filterbuy analyzed the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The researchers ranked metro areas according to the cost of an additional bedroom as a percentage of renter income. Researchers also calculated median monthly rent for a one-bedroom, two-bedroom, three-bedroom, and four-bedroom apartment.

To improve relevance, only metropolitan areas with at least 100,000 people were included in the analysis. Additionally, metro areas were grouped into the following cohorts based on population size:

  • Small metros: 100,000-349,999
  • Midsize metros: 350,000-999,999
  • Large metros: more than 1,000,000

Here are the large metros where renting a home office is most affordable.

15. Salt Lake City, UT

Salt Lake City, Utah
Rigucci / Shutterstock.com
  • Additional bedroom cost as a percentage of income: 7.6%
  • Median monthly cost for an additional bedroom: $321
  • Median monthly income for renters: $4,226
  • Median monthly rent: $1,024 (1-br), $1,249 (2-br), $1,752 (3-br), $1,986 (4-br)

14. Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
f11photo / Shutterstock.com
  • Additional bedroom cost as a percentage of income: 7.5%
  • Median monthly cost for an additional bedroom: $266
  • Median monthly income for renters: $3,545
  • Median monthly rent: $1,091 (1-br), $1,321 (2-br), $1,646 (3-br), $1,890 (4-br)

13. Birmingham-Hoover, AL

Birmingham, Alabama
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
  • Additional bedroom cost as a percentage of income: 7.5%
  • Median monthly cost for an additional bedroom: $205
  • Median monthly income for renters: $2,715
  • Median monthly rent: $937 (1-br), $1,073 (2-br), $1,404 (3-br), $1,551 (4-br)

12. Grand Rapids-Kentwood, MI

Grand Rapids, Michigan
Henryk Sadura / Shutterstock.com
  • Additional bedroom cost as a percentage of income: 7.3%
  • Median monthly cost for an additional bedroom: $245
  • Median monthly income for renters: $3,359
  • Median monthly rent: $838 (1-br), $1,022 (2-br), $1,377 (3-br), $1,574 (4-br)

11. Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN

Indianapolis, Indiana
Alexey Stiop / Shutterstock.com
  • Additional bedroom cost as a percentage of income: 7.3%
  • Median monthly cost for an additional bedroom: $235
  • Median monthly income for renters: $3,207
  • Median monthly rent: $829 (1-br), $1,008 (2-br), $1,339 (3-br), $1,534 (4-br)

10. Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN

Louisville Kentucky
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
  • Additional bedroom cost as a percentage of income: 7.3%
  • Median monthly cost for an additional bedroom: $219
  • Median monthly income for renters: $3,013
  • Median monthly rent: $760 (1-br), $929 (2-br), $1,251 (3-br), $1,418 (4-br)

9. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Alpharetta, GA

Atlanta, Georgia, Piedmont Park skyline autumn
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
  • Additional bedroom cost as a percentage of income: 7.2%
  • Median monthly cost for an additional bedroom: $285
  • Median monthly income for renters: $3,944
  • Median monthly rent: $1,096 (1-br), $1,248 (2-br), $1,592 (3-br), $1,951 (4-br)

8. Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI

Detroit, Michigan
Susanne Pommer / Shutterstock.com
  • Additional bedroom cost as a percentage of income: 7.2%
  • Median monthly cost for an additional bedroom: $219
  • Median monthly income for renters: $3,055
  • Median monthly rent: $822 (1-br), $1,051 (2-br), $1,361 (3-br), $1,480 (4-br)

7. Kansas City, MO-KS

Kansas City, Missouri
Scruggelgreen / Shutterstock.com
  • Additional bedroom cost as a percentage of income: 6.8%
  • Median monthly cost for an additional bedroom: $242
  • Median monthly income for renters: $3,568
  • Median monthly rent: $872 (1-br), $1,049 (2-br), $1,409 (3-br), $1,598 (4-br)

6. Rochester, NY

Rochester New York
TarnPisessith / Shutterstock.com
  • Additional bedroom cost as a percentage of income: 6.8%
  • Median monthly cost for an additional bedroom: $192
  • Median monthly income for renters: $2,809
  • Median monthly rent: $824 (1-br), $1,033 (2-br), $1,287 (3-br), $1,399 (4-br)

5. Columbus, OH

Columbus Ohio
f11photo / Shutterstock.com
  • Additional bedroom cost as a percentage of income: 6.5%
  • Median monthly cost for an additional bedroom: $234
  • Median monthly income for renters: $3,599
  • Median monthly rent: $851 (1-br), $1,063 (2-br), $1,352 (3-br), $1,553 (4-br)

4. Buffalo-Cheektowaga, NY

Buffalo, New York
Atomazul / Shutterstock.com
  • Additional bedroom cost as a percentage of income: 6.3%
  • Median monthly cost for an additional bedroom: $172
  • Median monthly income for renters: $2,715
  • Median monthly rent: $743 (1-br), $891 (2-br), $1,110 (3-br), $1,258 (4-br)

3. Cleveland-Elyria, OH

Cleveland, Ohio
Rudy Balasko / Shutterstock.com
  • Additional bedroom cost as a percentage of income: 6.2%
  • Median monthly cost for an additional bedroom: $173
  • Median monthly income for renters: $2,797
  • Median monthly rent: $740 (1-br), $910 (2-br), $1,200 (3-br), $1,258 (4-br)

2. Pittsburgh, PA

Pittsburgh
esb-professional / Shutterstock.com
  • Additional bedroom cost as a percentage of income: 6.1%
  • Median monthly cost for an additional bedroom: $188
  • Median monthly income for renters: $3,066
  • Median monthly rent: $787 (1-br), $964 (2-br), $1,232 (3-br), $1,352 (4-br)

1. Milwaukee-Waukesha, WI

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Rudy Balasko / Shutterstock.com
  • Additional bedroom cost as a percentage of income: 5.9%
  • Median monthly cost for an additional bedroom: $191
  • Median monthly income for renters: $3,256
  • Median monthly rent: $805 (1-br), $975 (2-br), $1,245 (3-br), $1,377 (4-br)

Detailed Findings & Methodology

Man working in home office
G-Stock Studio / Shutterstock.com

The Midwest dominates in rental affordability—over half of the most affordable large metros for adding a home office are located in Midwestern states. On average, upsizing in these metros costs an additional $226 per month or 6.9 percent of monthly income. In comparison, the national average cost for upsizing is an extra $317 per month, or 9 percent of monthly income.

The majority of the most affordable small and midsize metros for renting an additional bedroom are in the Midwest or on the East Coast. Upsizing is highly affordable in some of these locales, costing less than 5 percent of monthly income in several small metros. Rents in these areas are lower than average, but they have proportionally higher incomes, making upsizing to a home office an attractive and attainable option for remote workers.

To find the most affordable locations in which to upsize for a home office, researchers analyzed the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The researchers ranked metro areas according to the cost of an additional bedroom as a percentage of income. Additional cost was measured as the average cost difference between a one- and two-bedroom apartment, a two- and three-bedroom apartment, and a three- and four-bedroom apartment. In the event of a tie, the metro with the lower cost of an additional bedroom was ranked higher.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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