This American city is the cheapest for renters


Written by:

If there is one good thing that came out of the pandemic it was discovering how easy it is to work from home. Many employers even stated they will never return to pre-pandemic office days, including Dropbox, Shopify, Twitter and Upwork. This means employees can pretty much work from anywhere and has sent people in expensive cities like New York and Los Angeles packing up and moving to less-expensive destinations.

If you have the flexibility to work from home indefinitely, maybe it is time for you to reevaluate where you live. There are states and cities with a lower cost of living happy to welcome you — and helping you stretch your income further than ever. 

Look at it this way: New York City has the highest average rent of any city in the country, according to the annual report by A 2-bedroom apartment averaged $4,927 in January 2021. If you follow the popular rule of thumb and dedicate 30% of your income to rent, your monthly pay needs to be around $16,500 per month, or $198,000 per year, whether that is combined with your partner or a roommate.

Now, the cheapest average two-bedroom apartment, according to Apartmentguide, is $763 in Wichita, Kansas. Does Wichita have all that New York has? Of course not! But the rent is more than 6 times lower! What could you do with the additional $4,164 – nearly $50,000 per year?


SPONSORED: Find a Qualified Financial Advisor

1. Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn't have to be hard. SmartAsset's free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes.

2. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you're ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals get started now.





So, where are the cheapest cities in the country?

Image Credit: iStock/Sean Pavone.


First, let’s highlight the national averages so you know where you fit in — above or below — and why those on this list are good bets.

  • National average monthly rent: Studio $1,602, 1 bedroom $1,588, 2 bedroom $1,861, 3 bedroom $2,051, as of January 2021
  • National average price of gas, per gallon: $2.768 as of March 7, 2021
  • National Cost of Living Index: 104.63, from November 2020
  • National Grocery Index: 103.34

Image Credit:

20 Cheapest Places to Live in 2021

We took a look at not only the cheapest rent but the average cost of living, gas prices and groceries in each state. And then, because it doesn’t matter how low the cost of living but whether you have a job, we also looked into each city’s unemployment rate. The following are the 20 cheapest cities in the U.S.

Image Credit:

20. Tucson, Arizona

  • Population: 548,073
  • Average monthly rent: $1,044
  • State gas prices: $3.009
  • State cost of living: 97
  • State Grocery Index: 96.9
  • Unemployment rate: 7.4%

This city surrounded by the Sonoran Desert and mountain ranges is a year-round playground for adventure lovers.

Image Credit: tonda / iStock.

19. Albuquerque, New Mexico

  • Population: 560,513
  • Average monthly rent: $1,167
  • State gas prices: $2.741
  • State cost of living: 87.5
  • State Grocery Index: 100.9
  • Unemployment rate: 7.3%

Tired of snow or rain? Albuquerque receives 310 days of sunshine each year.

Image Credit: Deposit Photos.

18. Memphis, Tennessee

  • Population: 651,073
  • Average monthly rent: $1,215
  • State gas prices: $2.574
  • State cost of living: 88.7
  • State Grocery Index: 93.3
  • Unemployment rate: 7.4%

The birthplace of rock and roll and the home of the Blues, this vibrant city is filled with live music.

Image Credit: Sean Pavone / iStock.

17. Greensboro, North Carolina

  • Population: 296,719
  • Average monthly rent: $1,026
  • State gas prices: $2.575
  • State cost of living: 94.9
  • State Grocery Index: 96.6
  • Unemployment rate: 6.7%

North Carolina’s cities have been experiencing a boon as of late with newcomers and corporations arriving for its low costs and temperate weather.

Image Credit: SeanPavonePhoto / iStock.

16. San Antonio

  • Population: 1,547,253
  • Average monthly rent: $1,167
  • State gas prices: $2.501
  • State cost of living: 91.5
  • State Grocery Index: 88.9
  • Unemployment rate: 6.4%

One of the most popular cities for tourism in Texas, San Antonio’s River Walk has become the heart of the city.

Image Credit: DepositPhotos.

15. Baton Rouge, Louisiana

  • Population: 220,236
  • Average monthly rent: $1,132
  • State gas prices: $2.472
  • State cost of living: 93.9
  • State Grocery Index: 100.4
  • Unemployment rate: 6.1%

The second biggest city in Louisiana is a college town overlooking the Mighty Mississippi River.

Image Credit: benkrut / iStock.

14. Arlington, Texas

  • Population: 398,854
  • Average monthly rent: $1,235
  • State gas prices: $2.501
  • State cost of living: 91.5
  • State Grocery Index: 88.9
  • Unemployment rate: 6.3%

Forget Dallas and Fort Worth, Arlington is becoming the hottest place to live in northern Texas.

Image Credit: aphotostory / iStock.

13. Winston-Salem, North Carolina

  • Population: 247,945
  • Average monthly rent: $1,158
  • State gas prices: $2.575
  • State cost of living: 95.9
  • State Grocery Index: 96.6
  • Unemployment rate: 5.9%%

You get two cities for the price of one in this artistic and industrial hotspot.

Image Credit: BSPollard/istockphoto.

12. Tulsa, Oklahoma

  • Population: 401,190
  • Average monthly rent: $898
  • State gas prices: $2.586
  • State cost of living: 87
  • State Grocery Index: 95.5
  • Unemployment rate: 5.6%

Once the “Oil Capital of the World,” Tulsa is the second largest city in Oklahoma – and birthplace of Route 66.

Image Credit: Johnny Warrior / iStock.

11. Lubbock, Texas

  • Population: 258,862
  • Average monthly rent: $875
  • State gas prices: $2.501
  • State cost of living: 91.5
  • State Grocery Index: 88.9
  • Unemployment rate: 5.6%

This small city was home to Buddy Holly and Waylon Jennings and remains a music and arts scene to this day.

Image Credit: DenisTangneyJr.

10. Gilbert, Arizona

  • Population: 254,114
  • Average monthly rent: $1,029
  • State gas prices: $3.009
  • State cost of living: 97
  • State Grocery Index: 96.9
  • Unemployment rate: 5.2%

Just outside of Phoenix, enjoy the spoils of the city without the price.

Image Credit: Deposit Photos.

9. Lexington, Virginia

  • Population: 323,152
  • Average monthly rent: $1,141
  • State gas prices: $2.648
  • State cost of living: 100.7
  • State Grocery Index: 96.1
  • Unemployment rate: 5.0%

This college town is filled with a youthful energy and things to do.

Image Credit: ablokhin/ iStock.

8. Jacksonville, Florida

  • Population: 911,507
  • Average monthly rent: $1,283
  • State gas prices: $2.716
  • State cost of living: 97.9
  • State Grocery Index: 100.4
  • Unemployment rate: 4.8%

Northern Florida’s most populous cities provides city life and beaches that are far cheaper than its South Florida counterparts.

Image Credit: iStock/Allen Allnoch.

7. Louisville, Kentucky

  • Population: 617,638
  • Average monthly rent: $1,295
  • State gas prices: $2.569
  • State cost of living: 90.9
  • State Grocery Index: 91.6
  • Unemployment rate: 5.0%

The home to the Kentucky Derby, Louisville is surrounded by horse country and Southern charm.

Image Credit: iStock/Sean Pavone.

6. Toledo, Ohio

  • Population: 655,057
  • Average monthly rent: $949
  • State gas prices: $2.701
  • State cost of living: 90.8
  • State Grocery Index: 98.7
  • Unemployment rate: 5.5%

An industrial city, Toledo was called The Glass City and manufactured much of America’s glass.

Image Credit: Ron_Thomas/istockphoto.

5. Chesapeake, Virginia

  • Population: 244,835
  • Average monthly rent: $1,276
  • State gas prices: $2.648
  • State cost of living: 100.7
  • State Grocery Index: 96.1
  • Unemployment rate: 4.6%

You’ll have boundless ways to enjoy water in this city the FBI named one of the five safest in the U.S.

Image Credit: Deposit Photos.

4. Fort Wayne, Indiana

  • Population: 270,402
  • Average monthly rent: $1,077
  • State gas prices: $2.501
  • State cost of living: 91.5
  • State Grocery Index: 88.9
  • Unemployment rate: 3.9%

Sports lovers will love the number of amateur sports leagues as well as year-round festivals.

Image Credit: ChrisBoswell / iStock.

3. Lincoln, Nebraska

  • Population: 289,102
  • Average monthly rent: $1,318
  • State gas prices: $2.765
  • State cost of living: 90.8
  • State Grocery Index: 95.5
  • Unemployment rate: 2.9%

The capital of Nebraska, the Midwest state remains a safe and low-cost place to live.

Image Credit: ChrisBoswell/iStock.

2. Oklahoma City

  • Population: 655,057
  • Average monthly rent: $944
  • State gas prices: $2.586
  • State cost of living: 87
  • State Grocery Index: 95.5
  • Unemployment rate: 4.8%

This capital city is filled with museums, entertainment district and city parks.

Image Credit: tobynabors / iStock.

1. Wichita, Kansas

  • Population: 389,938
  • Average monthly rent: $763 (40% lower than the national average)
  • State gas prices: $2.569
  • State cost of living: 89
  • State Grocery Index: 92
  • Unemployment rate: 4.3%

You’ll find this thriving city in between Kansas City and Oklahoma City, giving you three cities to enjoy.

Image Credit: Deposit Photos.


The data we compiled includes Apartmentguide’s Rent Report, February 2021, which features the average rent costs for a 2-bedroom apartment based on January 2021 numbers. For the Cost of Living Index by State 2021, which uses numbers from November 2020, data was collected by the Council for Community & Economic Research (C2ER) survey. AAA provided the per-state gas prices, as collected on Mach 7, 2021.

Unemployment data comes from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, December 2020.

This article
originally appeared on and was
syndicated by

Image Credit: ablokhin / iStock.