U.S. Cities Where People Are Spending the Most (and Least) on Housing

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

Average monthly housing costs across the 50 largest U.S. cities are $1,268, or about 14% higher than median monthly housing costs nationally ($1,112). Additionally, residents spend an average of 23.88% of their annual pre-tax income on housing costs in those cities, while the average American spends 20.31%. Though large cities are often more expensive when it comes to housing — not to mention other living costs such as transportation and food — some cities are more expensive than others.

In this study, SmartAsset identified the cities where people spend the most and least on housing. We compared the 50 largest U.S. cities across two metrics: median monthly housing costs and housing costs as a percentage of income. 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 second annual study on the topic. Check out the 2020 rankings here.

Cities Where People Spend the Most on Housing

Down payment on a house
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Like last year, Boston ranks as the city where people spend the most on housing. Census data shows that median monthly housing costs among renters and homeowners in this city total $1,833 — the fifth-highest of the 50 largest U.S. cities. Boston ranks fourth-highest for our other metric, housing costs as a percentage of income, with median annual housing costs making up 27.84% of the city’s median household income.

Six California cities rank in the top 11 cities where people spend the most on housing. They include Los Angeles, San Diego, Long Beach, Oakland, San Jose and Sacramento. Of those six cities, San Jose has the highest median monthly housing costs (about $2,300) and Los Angeles has the highest housing costs as a percentage of income (more than 30%).

Here’s a closer look at the 10 large cities where people spend the most on housing.

Boston, MA

Boston, Massachusetts
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  • Median monthly housing costs: $1,833
  • Percent of household income: 27.84%

Los Angeles, CA

Los Angeles neighborhood.
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  • Median monthly housing costs: $1,711
  • Percent of household income: 30.45%

San Diego, CA

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  • Median monthly housing costs: $1,896
  • Percent of household income: 26.61%

Long Beach, CA

Long Beach California homes
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  • Median monthly housing costs: $1,555
  • Percent of household income: 27.52%

Oakland, CA

Oakland California neigborhood
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  • Median monthly housing costs: $1,799
  • Percent of household income: 26.32%

New York, NY

New York City homes neighborhood
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  • Median monthly housing costs: $1,541
  • Percent of household income: 26.64%

Miami, FL

Miami, Florida homes
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  • Median monthly housing costs: $1,300
  • Percent of household income: 36.31%

San Jose, CA

Homes in San Jose, California
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  • Median monthly housing costs: $2,327
  • Percent of household income: 24.09%

Denver, CO (tie)

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  • Median monthly housing costs: $1,518
  • Percent of household income: 24.08%

Sacramento, CA (tie)

Home in Sacramento, California
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  • Median monthly housing costs: $1,412
  • Percent of household income: 24.51%

Atlanta, GA (tie)

Atlanta, Georgia homes
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  • Median monthly housing costs: $1,369
  • Percent of household income: 24.65%

Cities Where People Spend the Least on Housing

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Oklahoma City takes the top spot as the city where people spend the least on housing. According to 2019 Census data, the median monthly housing costs for homeowners and renters in Oklahoma City total $916. Residents also pay the lowest percentage of income on housing costs in the study. Median annual housing costs make up only 19.81% of Oklahoma City’s median household income.

The second, third and fourth top-ranking cities where people spend the least on housing are also in the South. Tulsa, Oklahoma, has the third-lowest median housing costs of any city in our study — at $863 per month — while Louisville, Kentucky, ranks third-lowest for housing costs as a percentage of income — 20.56%. In El Paso, Texas, median monthly housing costs amount to $870, the fourth-lowest overall.

Beyond those Southern cities, the remaining cities in the top 10 locales where people spend the least on housing are all in the Midwest and West. Keep reading to see which cities are most affordable.

Tucson, AZ

Home in Tucson Arizona
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  • Median monthly housing costs: $860
  • Percent of household income: 23.26%

Indianapolis, IN

winter scene homes in Indianapolis, Indiana
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  • Median monthly housing costs: $926
  • Percent of household income: 22.38%

Columbus, OH

Historic homes in Columbus, Ohio
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  • Median monthly housing costs: $1,025
  • Percent of household income: 21.53%

Kansas City, MO

Kansas City Missouri homes
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  • Median monthly housing costs: $995
  • Percent of household income: 21.61%

Omaha, NE

Omaha Nebraska Home
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  • Median monthly housing costs: $1,044
  • Percent of household income: 20.44%

Albuquerque, NM

Albuquerque, New Mexico
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  • Median monthly housing costs: $974
  • Percent of household income: 21.03%

El Paso, TX

El Paso Texas neighborhood
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  • Median monthly housing costs: $870
  • Percent of household income: 21.51%

Louisville, KY

Louisville Kentucky homes
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  • Median monthly housing costs: $940
  • Percent of household income: 20.56%

Tulsa, OK

Home in Tulsa, Oklahoma
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  • Median monthly housing costs: $863
  • Percent of household income: 21.07%

Oklahoma City, OK

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  • Median monthly housing costs: $916
  • Percent of household income: 19.81%

Data and Methodology

buying a home
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To find the cities where people spend the most on housing, we compared the 50 largest U.S. cities across two metrics:

  • Median monthly housing costs. This is median monthly housing costs for homeowners and renters. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2019 1-year American Community Survey.
  • Housing costs as a percentage of income. This is median annual housing costs divided by median household income. Data for both metrics comes from the Census Bureau’s 2019 1-year American Community Survey.

First, we ranked each city in each metric. We then found each city’s average ranking, assigning both metrics an equal weight. We used this average ranking to create our final score. The city where people spend the most on housing received a score of 100. The city where people spend the least on housing received a score of 0.

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