The Most — and Least — Expensive Metros for New Renters

Upset renter
Damir Khabirov / Shutterstock.com

This story originally appeared on HireAHelper.

The COVID-19 outbreak is poised to cause major migration shifts across the U.S.

According to recent data, 22% of U.S. adults changed their residence or knew someone who did because of the pandemic. This represents a stark reversal from the longstanding trend of Americans staying put and could have far-reaching effects on local populations and economies.

Prior to COVID-19, geographic mobility in the U.S. reached historic lows. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that between 2018 and 2019, only 9% of Americans changed their address. By contrast, the geographic mobility rate hovered around 20% throughout the 1950s and 1960s before beginning its decline.

Despite the overall drop in mobility, people who moved in 2019 were more likely to do so for work-related reasons than in years past. For example, between 2018 and 2019, 12.1% of those who moved indicated a new job or job transfer was their primary reason for moving, compared with 9.5% in 1999.

These mobility trends are likely to reverse course sharply in the wake of COVID-19, especially as more companies allow for remote work. Pew Research Center data suggests that people have moved as much already in 2020 as in all of 2019.

As the need to live in close proximity to work has shifted for many Americans, more affordable housing is a particularly strong draw for residents looking to move. To find the most and least expensive locations to sign a new rental agreement, researchers at HireAHelper, a marketplace for local moving companies, analyzed median rental prices and wage statistics across the United States.

Using this data, HireAHelper calculated how many hours the typical renter would need to work to sign a new rental agreement. For this calculation, the researchers assumed that a renter would need to pay three months of rent upfront (i.e., first month’s rent, last month’s rent and a security deposit).

For example, the national median cost of a two-bedroom rental is $1,293 and the median wage is $19.14 per hour. This means that a typical renter would need to have $3,879 saved to sign the rental agreement, which would require 203 hours of work.

Here are the 15 most expensive and 15 least expensive metros in which to sign a new rental agreement.

Methodology

Young woman renter packing up to move house
Dmytro Zinkevych / Shutterstock.com

The rental price data used in this report is from HUD’s 50th Percentile Rent Estimates. State- and national-level estimates were aggregated from county-level data. Median wage statistics are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics.

To find the number of work hours needed to sign a two-bedroom rental agreement in each location, researchers assumed that a renter would need to pay three months of rent upfront (i.e., first month’s rent, last month’s rent, and a security deposit). This total amount was then divided by the location’s median hourly wage.

Locations were ordered by the resulting statistic. In the event of a tie, median monthly rent was used. Only metropolitan areas with at least 500,000 residents were included in the analysis.

Most expensive

15. Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA

Riverside, California at night
MattGush / Shutterstock.com

  • Hours of work needed to sign a rental agreement: 230
  • First month’s rent + last month’s rent + security deposit: $4,182
  • Median 2-bedroom monthly rent: $1,394
  • Median hourly wage: $18.17

14. North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL

Sarasota, Florida
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
  • Hours of work needed to sign a rental agreement: 233
  • First month’s rent + last month’s rent + security deposit: $3,960
  • Median 2-bedroom monthly rent: $1,320
  • Median hourly wage: $17

13. Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, FL

Daytona Beach, Florida
Katherine Welles / Shutterstock.com
  • Hours of work needed to sign a rental agreement: 234
  • First month’s rent + last month’s rent + security deposit: $3,531
  • Median 2-bedroom monthly rent: $1,177
  • Median hourly wage: $15.11

12. Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL

James Kirkikis / Shutterstock.com

  • Hours of work needed to sign a rental agreement: 244
  • First month’s rent + last month’s rent + security deposit: $4,023
  • Median 2-bedroom monthly rent: $1,341
  • Median hourly wage: $16.50

11. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA

Seattle
cdrin / Shutterstock.com
  • Hours of work needed to sign a rental agreement: 262
  • First month’s rent + last month’s rent + security deposit: $6,729
  • Median 2-bedroom monthly rent: $2,243
  • Median hourly wage: $25.65

10. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT

Connecticut marina.
STUDIO M / Shutterstock.com
  • Hours of work needed to sign a rental agreement: 266
  • First month’s rent + last month’s rent + security deposit: $6,795
  • Median 2-bedroom monthly rent: $2,265
  • Median hourly wage: $25.50

9. New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA

Jersey City, New Jersey
Sorbis / Shutterstock.com

  • Hours of work needed to sign a rental agreement: 273
  • First month’s rent + last month’s rent + security deposit: $6,402
  • Median 2-bedroom monthly rent: $2,134
  • Median hourly wage: $23.48

8. Boston-Cambridge-Nashua, MA-NH

Byelikova Oksana / Shutterstock.com
  • Hours of work needed to sign a rental agreement: 286
  • First month’s rent + last month’s rent + security deposit: $7,329
  • Median 2-bedroom monthly rent: $2,443
  • Median hourly wage: $25.62

7. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL

Miami
Kamira / Shutterstock.com
  • Hours of work needed to sign a rental agreement: 295
  • First month’s rent + last month’s rent + security deposit: $5,241
  • Median 2-bedroom monthly rent: $1,747
  • Median hourly wage: $17.76

6. San Diego-Carlsbad, CA

The skyline of San Diego, where median rent is well below median mortgage payments
Dancestrokes / Shutterstock.com
  • Hours of work needed to sign a rental agreement: 299
  • First month’s rent + last month’s rent + security deposit: $6,483
  • Median 2-bedroom monthly rent: $2,161
  • Median hourly wage: $21.66

5. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA

Rodeo Drive Los Angeles, California
Michael Urmann / Shutterstock.com
  • Hours of work needed to sign a rental agreement: 309
  • First month’s rent + last month’s rent + security deposit: $6,339
  • Median 2-bedroom monthly rent: $2,113
  • Median hourly wage: $20.50

4. Urban Honolulu, HI

emperorcosa / Shutterstock.com
  • Hours of work needed to sign a rental agreement: 315
  • First month’s rent + last month’s rent + security deposit: $6,945
  • Median 2-bedroom monthly rent: $2,315
  • Median hourly wage: $22.07

3. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA

San Jose, California
mTaira / Shutterstock.com
  • Hours of work needed to sign a rental agreement: 316
  • First month’s rent + last month’s rent + security deposit: $9,411
  • Median 2-bedroom monthly rent: $3,137
  • Median hourly wage: $29.80

2. Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA

Oxnard, California
Liliya67 / Shutterstock.com
  • Hours of work needed to sign a rental agreement: 324
  • First month’s rent + last month’s rent + security deposit: $6,321
  • Median 2-bedroom monthly rent: $2,107
  • Median hourly wage: $19.49

1. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA

San Francisco
Pius Lee / Shutterstock.com
  • Hours of work needed to sign a rental agreement: 380
  • First month’s rent + last month’s rent + security deposit: $10,431
  • Median 2-bedroom monthly rent: $3,477
  • Median hourly wage: $27.42

Least expensive

15. Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI

The Bronze Fonz statue
Nejdet Duzen / Shutterstock.com
  • Hours of work needed to sign a rental agreement: 149
  • First month’s rent + last month’s rent + security deposit: $2,925
  • Median 2-bedroom monthly rent: $975
  • Median hourly wage: $19.58

14. Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR

Capitol building in Little Rock, Arkansas.
W. Scott McGill / Shutterstock.com

  • Hours of work needed to sign a rental agreement: 149
  • First month’s rent + last month’s rent + security deposit: $2,565
  • Median 2-bedroom monthly rent: $855
  • Median hourly wage: $17.27

13. Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, AR-MO

Washington County Courthouse in Fayetteville, Arkansas
shuttersv / Shutterstock.com

  • Hours of work needed to sign a rental agreement: 149
  • First month’s rent + last month’s rent + security deposit: $2,556
  • Median 2-bedroom monthly rent: $852
  • Median hourly wage: $17.13

12. Pittsburgh, PA

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
  • Hours of work needed to sign a rental agreement: 148
  • First month’s rent + last month’s rent + security deposit: $2,892
  • Median 2-bedroom monthly rent: $964
  • Median hourly wage: $19.50

11. Syracuse, NY

Onondaga Park in Syracuse, New York
Mahmoud Masad / Shutterstock.com

  • Hours of work needed to sign a rental agreement: 147
  • First month’s rent + last month’s rent + security deposit: $2,856
  • Median 2-bedroom monthly rent: $952
  • Median hourly wage: $19.48

10. Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN

Doug Lemke / Shutterstock.com
  • Hours of work needed to sign a rental agreement: 147
  • First month’s rent + last month’s rent + security deposit: $2,793
  • Median 2-bedroom monthly rent: $931
  • Median hourly wage: $19.05

9. Akron, OH

Akron, Ohio
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

  • Hours of work needed to sign a rental agreement: 147
  • First month’s rent + last month’s rent + security deposit: $2,736
  • Median 2-bedroom monthly rent: $912
  • Median hourly wage: $18.57

8. Wichita, KS

Wichita, Kansas
KSwinicki / Shutterstock.com

  • Hours of work needed to sign a rental agreement: 147
  • First month’s rent + last month’s rent + security deposit: $2,613
  • Median 2-bedroom monthly rent: $871
  • Median hourly wage: $17.78

7. Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA

Nagel Photography / Shutterstock.com
  • Hours of work needed to sign a rental agreement: 141
  • First month’s rent + last month’s rent + security deposit: $2,874
  • Median 2-bedroom monthly rent: $958
  • Median hourly wage: $20.37

6. Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NY

Buffalo, New York
Atomazul / Shutterstock.com
  • Hours of work needed to sign a rental agreement: 141
  • First month’s rent + last month’s rent + security deposit: $2,673
  • Median 2-bedroom monthly rent: $891
  • Median hourly wage: $18.98

5. Cleveland-Elyria, OH

Allen G. / Shutterstock.com
  • Hours of work needed to sign a rental agreement: 140
  • First month’s rent + last month’s rent + security deposit: $2,730
  • Median 2-bedroom monthly rent: $910
  • Median hourly wage: $19.44

4. Winston-Salem, NC

Robert Donovan / Shutterstock.com
  • Hours of work needed to sign a rental agreement: 140
  • First month’s rent + last month’s rent + security deposit: $2,439
  • Median 2-bedroom monthly rent: $813
  • Median hourly wage: $17.38

3. Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, OH-PA

Courthouse
Henryk Sadura / Shutterstock.com

  • Hours of work needed to sign a rental agreement: 138
  • First month’s rent + last month’s rent + security deposit: $2,232
  • Median 2-bedroom monthly rent: $744
  • Median hourly wage: $16.18

2. Toledo, OH

Toledo, Ohio
T.Slack / Shutterstock.com

  • Hours of work needed to sign a rental agreement: 136
  • First month’s rent + last month’s rent + security deposit: $2,448
  • Median 2-bedroom monthly rent: $816
  • Median hourly wage: $17.95

1. Dayton, OH

Decorative bridges in Dayton, Ohio
Madison Muskopf / Shutterstock.com

  • Hours of work needed to sign a rental agreement: 131
  • First month’s rent + last month’s rent + security deposit: $2,484
  • Median 2-bedroom monthly rent: $828
  • Median hourly wage: $19.01

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