Along with the freedom to work remotely, swaths of Americans have been taking advantage of the opportunity to leave the nation’s most expensive coastal hubs for greener and cheaper pastures. Although most renters have limited their moves to nearby suburbs, there are plenty of secondary markets with a great mix of amenities and affordability.
Springfield, Missouri; Fargo, North Dakota; Greensboro, North Carolina; Tucson, Arizona; and Grand Forks, North Dakota, topped Rent.com’s list of the 50 cheapest cities in America, with the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment barely surpassing $1,000 — a steal compared to average prices in Boston ($4,728), New York City ($4,927) and Santa Monicao ($4,428) for a similar unit (recent report from realtor.com put the median two-bedroom rent in New York even higher, at $5,200).
“Especially these days, we’re all trying to find cheaper alternatives for everything in our lives,” the report read. “That may mean spending less on going out to eat or delaying buying a new car. But for many, finding a cheaper apartment is not only frugal but necessary.”
Springfield led the pack with the average cost for a studio ($615), one-bedroom ($636), or two-bedroom unit ($826) all costing less than $1,000. Although Springfield is quaint compared to Kansas City and St. Louis, the city has plenty of amenities for nature lovers and historians who want to explore Route 66 and nearby Branson.
Fargo nabbed second place with average rents ranging from $604 for a studio to $851 for a two-bedroom. Despite the frigid weather, Fargo has consistently been dubbed as one of the U.S.’s best up-and-coming cities, thanks to a healthy job market, robust small businesses and start-up growth, and a burgeoning downtown scene.
“The city has a surprisingly hip downtown scene full of trendy eateries and gastropubs along with an unexpected abundance of public art, a renowned gallery and museum and a world-class film festival,” the report read. “Intermixed with a swath of quiet neighborhoods and extensive farmland, there is something for everyone.”
Greensboro and Tucson tied for third place, with both cities’ average two-bedroom rents barely surpassing the $1,000 mark. Renters can find a studio in Greensboro for $693 and a one-bedroom for $839. Renters in Tucson can expect to pay similar prices, with an average studio $648 and an average one-bedroom costing $837.
Greensboro has a strong academic community and has a rich arts and culture scene with the Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro Science Center, International Civil Rights Museum and Greensboro Arboretum. The city is known for its tobacco and textile industries, with Kool and Wrangler calling Greensboro home.
Like Greensboro, Tucson has a strong academic community that attracts young professionals looking to enter education and tech spaces. As the home of the University of Arizona, Tucson is a bonafide college town with plenty of entertainment and amenities for students and residents alike. The city also has a vibrant Latinx community as its only 70 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border.
Shoring up the end of the pack is Grand Forks, which is North Dakota’s second-smallest city with a population of 55,389. Thankfully, the rent prices match the city’s small-town charm with the average rent for a two-bedroom clocking in at $1,039.
Grand Forks is the perfect place for athletes, outdoorsmen and nature enthusiasts, as the city is surrounded by wildlife preserves, hiking, biking and skiing trails, and kayaking and rafting excursions on the Red River, and expansive parks.
Mobile, Alabama; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Des Moines, Iowa; Bentonville, Arkansas; and Omaha, Nebraska rounded out the top 10 with the average rent for a two-bedroom barely topping $1,200. Rent.com said the majority of the nation’s 50 cheapest markets are located in the South and Midwest, but prices are dropping in lesser-known metros along the coasts as well.
“The top 50 cheapest cities still mostly sit in those same regions, but the geography begins to expand,” the report explained. “Surprisingly, the top 30 features metropolises like Houston (28) and Phoenix (30). Even Dallas checks in at No. 49.”
“Florida finally appears with Tampa at No. 28, and the Mid Atlantic/Northeast register with No. 37 Norfolk [Virginia] in addition to Allentown [Pennsylvania] and Hartford [Connecticut],” it added. “But you won’t find a West Coast city until Vancouver, Washington at the end of the list.”