10 Cities Where Renters Can Afford to Live Alone

single woman renter homeowner
Antonio Guillem / Shutterstock.com

Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on SmartAsset.com.

The nationwide median monthly rent in 2019 was $934 for a studio apartment and $953 for a one-bedroom, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. This can add up to anywhere between about $11,200 and $11,400 per year for solo renters. Living with a roommate is a common alternative to save money, but some residents may prefer to live alone. The good news is that depending on the city, living alone doesn’t have to break your budget. With this in mind, SmartAsset identified and ranked the top cities where renters can afford to live alone in 2021.

In this study, we compared the 100 largest U.S. cities across five metrics: average rent for a unit with fewer than two bedrooms, percentage of housing units with fewer than two bedrooms, median earnings for full-time workers, cost of living and unemployment rate. For details on our data sources and how we put all the information together to create our final rankings, check out the Data and Methodology section at the end.

This is SmartAsset’s fourth annual study on the cities where renters can afford to live alone. Check out the 2020 version here.

1. Cincinnati, OH

Cincinnati, Ohio
Stephanie A Sellers / Shutterstock.com

Taking the No. 1 spot in this study yet again, Cincinnati, Ohio, has many options for renters who wish to live alone. The average rent for a unit with fewer than two bedrooms is $612, the fifth-lowest figure for this metric across all of the 100 largest U.S. cities. The city also ranks within the top 10 of the study for its relatively low cost of living, $22,721 per year. Its April 2021 unemployment rate was 4.6% and more than 28% of its occupied housing units have fewer than two bedrooms, placing it in the top-20 for both rates.

2. Minneapolis, MN

Apartments in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Sam Wagner / Shutterstock.com

Though Minneapolis, Minnesota, ranks towards the middle of study for average rent costs, these still total less than $1,000 per month — $893, to be exact. The city ranks similarly for its cost of living, which is about $25,700 per year. However, it ranks in the top 20 cities for the other three metrics. About 32% of occupied housing units in the city have fewer than two bedrooms, and its April 2021 unemployment rate was only 4.2%. Additionally, in 2019, the average earnings for full-time workers was almost $56,500.

3. Omaha, NE

Omaha, Nebraska traffic highways
Aspects and Angles / Shutterstock.com

Omaha, Nebraska, ties with Boise, Idaho, and Arlington, Virginia, for the second-lowest April 2021 unemployment rate in the study, at 3.0%. The city also ranks within the top quartile of study for its relatively low annual cost of living ($23,767) and average monthly rent for a unit with fewer than two bedrooms ($781).

4. St. Louis, MO

aceshot1 / Shutterstock.com

St. Louis, Missouri, ranks within the top fifth of cities for three of the five metrics that we considered: average rent for a unit with fewer than two bedrooms ($727 per month), percentage of occupied housing units with fewer than two bedrooms (30.97%) and estimated cost of living ($23,462 per year).

5. Lexington, KY

Lexington Kentucky
James Kirkikis / Shutterstock.com

The April 2021 unemployment rate in Lexington, Kentucky, was low, at 3.2% — a top 10 rate. The average salary for a full-time worker is about $46,400, ranking in the middle of the study. But its cost of living is 12th-lowest ($23,163) and the average monthly rent for units with fewer than two bedrooms is 16th-lowest ($680).

6. Lincoln, NE

Lincoln, Nebraska
Mark Dahmke / Shutterstock.com

In Lincoln, Nebraska, the average rent for a unit with fewer than two bedrooms will run residents $759 a month, the 21st-lowest figure for this metric overall. The estimated annual cost of living in the city is $23,419, 14th-lowest in the study. Lincoln also has the lowest April 2021 unemployment rate, 2.2%.

7. Pittsburgh, PA

Steve Heap / Shutterstock.com

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, ranks within the top 25 for its relatively high percentage of occupied housing units with fewer than two bedrooms (26.32%). The city also has the 17th-lowest estimated annual cost of living, at $23,463 per year. And it ranks within the top 30 for its average salary for full-time workers, at $51,328 per year.

8. Louisville, KY (tie)

Louisville Kentucky
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

Louisville, Kentucky, ties with Tulsa, Oklahoma, for the No. 8 spot in the study. Louisville ranks in the top 15 of the study for three metrics: average rent for units with fewer than two bedrooms ($676 per month), cost of living ($23,367 per year) and April 2021 unemployment rate (4.1%).

8. Tulsa, OK (tie)

Tulsa Oklahoma
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

Tulsa, Oklahoma, ranks within the top 10 for two metrics: average rent for units with fewer than two bedrooms ($658 per month) and the annual cost of living ($22,786), for which it ranks second-lowest. Additionally, Tulsa ties for the 16th-lowest April 2021 unemployment rate (4.5%) across all 100 largest cities in the country.

10. Boise, ID

Boise, Idaho neighborhood
CSNafzger / Shutterstock.com

Rounding out our top 10 cities where renters can afford to live alone is Boise, Idaho. It ties for having the second-lowest April 2021 unemployment rate in the study (3.0%) and the 10th-lowest cost of living overall ($23,123 per year). It also ranks 20th-best for its relatively low average rent for a unit with fewer than two bedrooms, at $755 per month.

Data and Methodology

House for rent
Andy Dean Photography / Shutterstock.com

To find the cities where renters can afford to live alone, SmartAsset looked at data on the 100 largest U.S. cities. We compared them across five metrics:

  • Average rent for a unit with fewer than two bedrooms. This is the average of median gross monthly rent for a studio and median gross monthly rent for a one-bedroom unit. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2019 1-year American Community Survey.
  • Percentage of housing units with fewer than two bedrooms. This is the percentage of occupied housing units that are either studio or one-bedroom apartments or homes. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2019 1-year American Community Survey.
  • Median earnings for full-time workers. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2019 1-year American Community Survey.
  • Cost of living. Data comes from the MIT Living Wage Calculator and is from June 2021. This metric is measured at the county level.
  • April 2021 unemployment rate. Data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and is measured at the county level.

We ranked each city in every metric and found each city’s average ranking, with each metric receiving an equal weight. Using this average ranking, we created our final score. The city with the best average ranking received a score of 100 while the city with the worst average ranking received a score of 0.

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