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Where do renters get the most for their money?

February 20, 2018

When searching for a place to call home, most renters start by figuring out a comfortable price range to consider. Although the importance of staying within your budget is universal, the options available at different price points vary widely across the country.

In order to illustrate this point more clearly, Apartment List created the following interactive graphic, which shows the average estimated size of apartments available for $1,500 — note that 20 of the nation’s largest cities are shown by default, but the drop-down menu below allows you to add data for thousands of cities and towns1:

Of the 20 cities shown above, Indianapolis is most affordable at $0.85 per square foot; for $1,500, renters there can find a spacious two or three bedroom apartment measuring 1,770 square feet. At the other end of the spectrum, San Francisco is most expensive of the 20 largest cities -- with an average price per square foot of $4.40, San Francisco renters with a $1,500 budget are limited to a cramped studio of 340 square feet. In other words, at a given price point, an apartment in Indianapolis is 5.2 times larger than one in San Francisco.

Interestingly, the median rent in San Francisco ($3,010) is only 3.5 times higher than the median in Indianapolis ($850). The fact that the disparity in median rents is less stark than the difference in price per square foot demonstrates that in cities where the price per square foot is highest, apartments tend to be smaller. 

Here are some additional highlights from the 20 largest cities:

  • New York comes in just behind San Francisco, with the average $1,500 apartment measuring 350 square feet.
  • Boston, D.C., and Los Angeles round out the top five most expensive cities -- in each of these cities, $1,500 will get you less than 600 square feet.
  • Apartments are bigger in Texas -- the average $1,500 apartments in Austin and Dallas are similarly sized at 1,020 square feet, while in San Antonio, a $1,500 budget will get you 1,480 square feet.

We also calculated these figures at the metro level. Search the table below to see how your area compares. To see this data and a state and county level, check out the full data here.

LocationTypePrice Per Square FootSize of $1,500 Apartment
Aberdeen, WAMetro$0.941590
Abilene, TXMetro$0.771940
Adrian, MIMetro$0.841790
Akron, OHMetro$0.831800
Alamogordo, NMMetro$0.72140
Albany, GAMetro$0.612450
Albany, NYMetro$1.241210
Albany, ORMetro$1.041440
Albuquerque, NMMetro$0.861730
Alexandria, LAMetro$0.971550

  1. Estimates are based on the average price per square foot of available units listed on Apartment List in each location over the past six months. Note that this analysis does not control for sample bias or disparities in inventory mix across locations.

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Sydney Bennet
Sydney is a Senior Research Associate at Apartment List, where she conducts research on economic trends in the housing market. Sydney previously worked on a U. Read More
Chris Salviati
Chris is a senior housing economist at Apartment List, where he conducts research on economic trends in the housing market. Chris previously worked as a research assistant at the Federal Reserve and an economic consultant, and he has BA and MA degrees in economics from Boston University. Read More
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