What you pay in one city could be thousands of dollars more than other cities

You could rent an apartment in San Francisco — or six apartments in El Paso, for the same price.

Median costs for a one bedroom apartment in San Francisco is $3,395. In El Paso, it’s $555 — a $2,840 difference, according to a study from GOBankingRates.com.  In fact, renting in San Francisco is $890 more than the second-most expensive city, San Jose.

Renting is usually more expensive than buying a home — not always — but if you know where to look, renting can be super cheap. El Paso is the cheapest by far. While rent is lowest, basic utilities are also below the national average ($126 compared to $148). Detroit is also really low, with $600 a month in rent, but $243 in utilities means residents are paying the second-highest in the nation. Wichita, Kansas; Tucson, Arizona; and Fresno, California are all $650 or less in monthly rent bills, too.

While San Francisco has the highest monthly rent, they aren’t the only one that costs renters four figures. San Jose residents are paying $2,505 a month, New Yorkers are shelling out $2,395, Washington, D.C. folks are putting up $2,271, and the people living in Jersey City are paying $2,200 a month. That’s $26,400-$36,060 a year in rent alone. For many residents in these areas, that’s the majority of their paychecks, with very little left over — even for things like basic utilities and food. Here’s hoping you don’t have a car.

Check out other cities in the map below…

When it’s time to buy

Rent is crazy high and is continuing to climb even among the least expensive units. There’s a lot of demand for lower-end apartments. It makes sense: Cheaper apartments mean less income goes toward rent and more toward other things, like utilities, car bills, insurance, food, and other necessities. But those who should be able to afford those units can’t, leaving them for higher earners to scoop up.

But when should those higher earners move on? When where they live offers cheaper mortgage payments over rent. If you live in North Carolina, Montana, or Utah, you can stick with renting. But in the majority of states, buying a home is cheaper than renting one, especially in states like Ohio, West Virginia, and Michigan — all less than $900 a month in mortgage payments.

If you’re a serial renter, you may want to try staying put: renters who move less pay less than chronic movers. Sometimes the grass is actually greener in the place you’re at right now.

But if you’ve got the cash, definitely consider buying a home. Sometimes a lack of a down payment can scare people away from buying, but don’t let that hinder your decisions. Even a little bit goes a long way. Home values are already on the rise this year, with mortgage rates soaring and inventory is sparse.

Rising rents are already harmful enough to low-income earners, but the cheap homes they should be buying are being snatched up by those with more cash. While cash will more likely land you a home faster and in a neighborhood you like, be more open to different locations when browsing homes. Don’t rest on Texas.

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Meet the Author

Dori Zinn

Dori Zinn


Zinn is a freelance journalist based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.


homebuyers, real estate, renting

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Article last modified on September 29, 2017 Published by Debt.com, LLC . Mobile users may also access the AMP Version: Apartment Rental Costs Vary Drastically Around the Country - AMP.