15 U.S. Cities With the Most Single-Family Rentals

House for rent
Andy Dean Photography / Shutterstock.com

This story originally appeared on Roofstock.

Since the last recession, one of the key drivers of growth in new residential construction has been high-density housing. After the housing bubble burst in the mid-2000s, new construction began to rebound around 2009, and in the ensuing decade, annual construction of structures with five or more units increased by nearly 300 percent.

This pattern has paralleled a trend toward higher-density living in urban centers. In recent years, many cities have grown, with new residents gravitating toward the lifestyle, amenities, and economic opportunities available in the heart of urban areas. Affordable, single-family housing can be hard to come by in such areas, so higher-density rental units are often best able to accommodate new and existing residents’ housing needs. This means that far fewer renters (32.9 percent) live in single-family residences than homeowners do (88.4 percent).

Today, however, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted this status quo, and 2020 saw a surging demand for single-family rentals. Densely populated structures are less conducive to the social distancing measures necessary during the pandemic, and small apartments hold less appeal when the whole household is working and schooling from home.

As a result, multi-family rental units of all sizes have had vacancy rates move upward. Vacancy rates for structures of two or more units increased from 6.5 percent to 7.7 percent between the second and third quarters of 2020, while rates in structures of five or more units rose from 7.2 percent to 8.7 percent over the same period. In contrast, vacancy rates for single-family dipped below 5 percent in the second quarter of 2020 and have held steady at 4.7 percent since.

This emerging preference for single-family rental units will strain some states’ rental markets more than others. Northeastern states like New York (11.5 percent) and Massachusetts (14.6 percent) have the lowest percentages of renters living in single-family units, a product of older, established urban centers like New York City and Boston that accommodate their high populations with dense housing. In contrast, many of the states with the highest share of single-family rentals are more rural states in the Great Plains, Mountain West, and South.

Compared with state figures, the availability of single-family rentals at the metro level is more variable across the country. Some cities — like the aforementioned New York City and Boston — are constrained in their ability to add low-density homes due to their geographic features or historical development patterns. For newer cities with enough space to grow outward, however, the only limits on the stock of single-family units may be consumer demand and the city’s planning and zoning regulations.

To find which metropolitan areas have the most single-family rentals, our researchers analyzed U.S. Census Bureau data on rentals and housing. For each metro, researchers calculated the proportion of renter households in structures with one unit.

Keep reading for the large metros with the most single-family rentals.

15. Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler, AZ

Phoenix, Arizona
f11photo / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of renter households in single-family homes: 36.9%
  • Percentage of renter households in structures with 2 units: 2.9%
  • Percentage of renter households in structures with 3-4 units: 8.8%
  • Percentage of renter households in structures with 5+ units: 47.3%
  • Percentage of households that rent: 35.4%

14. Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV

Las Vegas neighborhood with desert hills beyond.
Christopher Boswell / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of renter households in single-family homes: 37.0%
  • Percentage of renter households in structures with 2 units: 2.6%
  • Percentage of renter households in structures with 3–4 units: 14.2%
  • Percentage of renter households in structures with 5+ units: 44.1%
  • Percentage of households that rent: 45.7%

13. Jacksonville, FL

Jacksonville, Florida
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of renter households in single-family homes: 38.0%
  • Percentage of renter households in structures with 2 units: 2.6%
  • Percentage of renter households in structures with 3–4 units: 9.0%
  • Percentage of renter households in structures with 5+ units: 43.1%
  • Percentage of households that rent: 34.0%

12. Tucson, AZ

Chris Rubino / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of renter households in single-family homes: 38.0%
  • Percentage of renter households in structures with 2 units: 5.3%
  • Percentage of renter households in structures with 3–4 units: 6.8%
  • Percentage of renter households in structures with 5+ units: 44.7%
  • Percentage of households that rent: 37.0%

11. Birmingham-Hoover, AL

Birmingham, Alabama
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of renter households in single-family homes: 38.2%
  • Percentage of renter households in structures with 2 units: 3.4%
  • Percentage of renter households in structures with 3–4 units: 8.7%
  • Percentage of renter households in structures with 5+ units: 42.9%
  • Percentage of households that rent: 32.3%

10. Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC

Norfolk Virginia
Ramunas Bruzas / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of renter households in single-family homes: 38.2%
  • Percentage of renter households in structures with 2 units: 4.0%
  • Percentage of renter households in structures with 3–4 units: 9.8%
  • Percentage of renter households in structures with 5+ units: 45.5%
  • Percentage of households that rent: 38.9%

9. Richmond, VA

Richmond, Virginia
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of renter households in single-family homes: 39.8%
  • Percentage of renter households in structures with 2 units: 4.0%
  • Percentage of renter households in structures with 3–4 units: 7.0%
  • Percentage of renter households in structures with 5+ units: 46.6%
  • Percentage of households that rent: 33.7%

8. Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN

Indianapolis
Rudy Balasko / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of renter households in single-family homes: 39.9%
  • Percentage of renter households in structures with 2 units: 4.5%
  • Percentage of renter households in structures with 3–4 units: 9.1%
  • Percentage of renter households in structures with 5+ units: 44.2%
  • Percentage of households that rent: 34.8%

7. Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC

Charlotte, North Carolina
Kevin M. McCarthy / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of renter households in single-family homes: 40.1%
  • Percentage of renter households in structures with 2 units: 3.1%
  • Percentage of renter households in structures with 3–4 units: 5.3%
  • Percentage of renter households in structures with 5+ units: 44.7%
  • Percentage of households that rent: 34.6%

6. Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI

Aerial view of downtown Detroit
Andrey Bayda / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of renter households in single-family homes: 41.1%
  • Percentage of renter households in structures with 2 units: 4.6%
  • Percentage of renter households in structures with 3–4 units: 7.5%
  • Percentage of renter households in structures with 5+ units: 44.4%
  • Percentage of households that rent: 30.4%

5. Kansas City, MO-KS

Kansas City, Missouri
Scruggelgreen / Shutterstock.com
  1. Percentage of renter households in single-family homes: 41.2%
  2. Percentage of renter households in structures with 2 units: 4.3%
  3. Percentage of renter households in structures with 3–4 units: 9.7%
  4. Percentage of renter households in structures with 5+ units: 43.8%
  5. Percentage of households that rent: 34.9%

4. Sacramento-Roseville-Folsom, CA

Sacramento, California
Andrew Zarivny / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of renter households in single-family homes: 42.4%
  • Percentage of renter households in structures with 2 units: 3.4%
  • Percentage of renter households in structures with 3–4 units: 10.4%
  • Percentage of renter households in structures with 5+ units: 42.0%
  • Percentage of households that rent: 39.6%

3. Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA

Riverside, California at night
MattGush / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of renter households in single-family homes: 47.0%
  • Percentage of renter households in structures with 2 units: 3.2%
  • Percentage of renter households in structures with 3–4 units: 9.8%
  • Percentage of renter households in structures with 5+ units: 35.4%
  • Percentage of households that rent: 36.1%

2. Oklahoma City, OK

Oklahoma City skyline
Natalia Bratslavsky / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of renter households in single-family homes: 47.6%
  • Percentage of renter households in structures with 2 units: 4.1%
  • Percentage of renter households in structures with 3–4 units: 7.0%
  • Percentage of renter households in structures with 5+ units: 36.6%
  • Percentage of households that rent: 36.7%

1. Memphis, TN-MS-AR

Memphis, Tennessee
Steven Frame / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of renter households in single-family homes: 48.0%
  • Percentage of renter households in structures with 2 units: 2.9%
  • Percentage of renter households in structures with 3–4 units: 9.0%
  • Percentage of renter households in structures with 5+ units: 36.6%
  • Percentage of households that rent: 41.2%

Detailed Findings & Methodology

Woman looking at financial chart on tablet computer
Wright Studio / Shutterstock.com

When considering the relationship between the percentage of single-family home renters and median monthly rent, there is no pronounced correlation. This suggests that other, more significant variables are likely influencing the availability of single-family rentals, such as population density, building codes, and zoning regulations, among other factors.

The data used in this analysis is from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates. Single-family rentals were defined as “renter-occupied housing units” with a single detached or attached unit in the structure. To find the locations with the most single-family rentals, researchers calculated the proportion of renter households in structures with one unit. To improve relevance, only metropolitan areas with at least 100,000 residents were included. Additionally, metros were grouped into cohorts based on population size: small (100,000–349,999), midsize (350,000–999,999), and large (1 million or more).

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

Read Next
3 Good Things About Recessions
3 Good Things About Recessions

We don’t wish difficulty on anyone, but there can be an upside to a down cycle.

7 Small Appliances You Don’t Need — and What to Use Instead
7 Small Appliances You Don’t Need — and What to Use Instead

Here’s how to get the job done without blowing money — or losing counter space.

6 Ways to Guarantee Yourself a Steady Retirement Income
6 Ways to Guarantee Yourself a Steady Retirement Income

Saving is just one part of the retirement equation. Do this now to guarantee income in your golden years.

Beware These 5 Common Work-From-Home Scams
Beware These 5 Common Work-From-Home Scams

You can spot scammers and con artists with a little know-how.

15 Purchases That Make Life Easier As You Age
15 Purchases That Make Life Easier As You Age

There are many products that can make getting older — or any time of life — a little easier.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
10 Things Frugal People Never Buy
10 Things Frugal People Never Buy

If you’re a true tightwad, the mere thought of spending money on these items gives you the willies.

10 Useless Purchases You Need to Stop Making
10 Useless Purchases You Need to Stop Making

You might as well flush your money down the loo if you spend it on these things.

7 Social Security Rules Everyone Should Know by Now
7 Social Security Rules Everyone Should Know by Now

Confusion over Social Security is a shame, considering how many of us will need this money badly.

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

They don’t make coffee makers like this anymore.

7 Social Security Benefits You May Be Overlooking
7 Social Security Benefits You May Be Overlooking

There’s more to Social Security than retirement benefits.

What a $15 Minimum Wage Means for Social Security
What a $15 Minimum Wage Means for Social Security

A federal minimum-wage hike could affect the Social Security system dramatically.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

14 Things You Should Stop Buying in 2021
14 Things You Should Stop Buying in 2021

These convenient household products come with hidden costs that you might not have considered.

The 6 Best Investing Apps for Beginners
The 6 Best Investing Apps for Beginners

If you’re looking to ease into investing in the coronavirus economy with just a little money, check out these easy-to-use tools.

Is Writing a Check Still Safe?
Is Writing a Check Still Safe?

Every time you pay by check, you hand your bank account numbers to a stranger.

8 Things You Should Replace to Improve Your Life Today
8 Things You Should Replace to Improve Your Life Today

Being frugal isn’t smart if you put off replacing these items.

6 Ways to Protect Your Retirement Accounts From Hackers
6 Ways to Protect Your Retirement Accounts From Hackers

Imagine having $245,000 stolen from your retirement account — and not being reimbursed.

13 Amazon Purchases We Are Loving Right Now
13 Amazon Purchases We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

7 Income Tax Breaks That Retirees Often Overlook
7 Income Tax Breaks That Retirees Often Overlook

Did you realize all these tax credits and deductions exist — or that they apply to retirees?

7 Hidden Sections of Amazon Every Shopper Should Know
7 Hidden Sections of Amazon Every Shopper Should Know

These little-known departments of Amazon are gold mines for deal-seekers and impulse shoppers alike.

7 Costly Health Problems That Strike After Age 50
7 Costly Health Problems That Strike After Age 50

As we age, our bodies wear down. Here is how to cut costs associated with some common ailments.

This Is the Most Dependable Car Brand in the U.S.
This Is the Most Dependable Car Brand in the U.S.

This brand’s vehicles are least likely to give drivers repair headaches, according to J.D. Power.

7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

7 Things I Never Buy at Costco
7 Things I Never Buy at Costco

A bulk buy isn’t always the best buy.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.