Looking for the perfect home was previously about three very important factors: location, location, location. But then, the pandemic shifted this narrative and renters have since made size a priority — thus beginning the race for space, space, space.
So, this rental season, we’re helping apartment-seekers across the nation by pointing out the cities where they can rent the most apartment space on a $1,500 per month budget. To do this, we analyzed apartment rent prices and apartment sizes from sister company Yardi Matrix in the 100 largest U.S. cities.
Cities in the South and Midwest offer the biggest bang for your buck, with Wichita, KS leading the list of cities where you can rent the largest apartments on a budget of $1,500. At the other end of the spectrum, renters on the East and West coasts are living small in the big cities. And, as expected, they’re led by Manhattan, New York, where $1,500 will get you less than 300 square feet of space.
But, in some cases, you don’t even need to go very far to notice a considerable difference in size. While in Newark, NJ, $1,500 will get you 800 square feet, in Jersey City, NJ — just nine miles and a half-hour drive away — the same amount is enough for only 410 square feet.
Have a higher budget or just want to see the smallest apartment you can fit in? Use the nifty calculator below to determine how much space you can rent based on your budget.
Wichita Offers Its Renters the Most Generous Apartment Sizes in the Nation
Wichita, KS apartments are the largest in the nation. Here, $1,500 per month will rent you 1,597 square feet. This means that, for $1,500, Wichita residents are able to live in a four-bedroom apartment, while still enjoying the perks of urban life. The largest city in the state of Kansas is a tenant’s paradise, with as many as 41% of its units being renter-occupied — 25% more than the state average.
Meanwhile, on a budget of $1,500, apartments for rent in Toledo, OH offer as much as 1,482 square of living space, the second largest in the U.S. However, the Glass City isn’t the only Ohio representative on our list. With 1,230 square feet, Columbus, OH sits at number 17.
Tulsa, OK, and Oklahoma City, OK, are breaking the Midwestern spell, bringing some of that Southern charm into our top five. Tulsa is where you can find the most apartment space in the state of Oklahoma — 1,447 square feet — followed closely by Oklahoma City with 1,431 square feet. Plus, because working from home is still a big part of our lives, Tulsa further ups the ante, offering great incentives for remote workers that have a need for bigger apartments. Finally, Fort Wayne, IN, rounded out our top five with an average apartment size of 1,356 square feet.
Texas apartments offer some of the most generous space even in large urban areas, with three Lone Star State cities earning a spot in our top 20 ranking. Apartments in Corpus Christi, TX came in at #20 with 1,153 square feet, while Lubbock and El Paso rentals (just 350 miles apart) occupied the 8th and 9th positions with 1,316 and 1,305 square feet, respectively, all for $1,500 per month.
Hottest Renter Hubs Put Forward Smallest Apartments
While a larger apartment with more amenities might seem appealing, many city-dwellers are willing to give up that extra space for the hustle and bustle of major urban conclaves. In fact, in places like Brooklyn, NY, San Francisco, CA, Boston, MA, and Manhattan, NY, $1,500 will get you less than 400 square feet — which only leaves renters in this budget range with the option of a larger apartment shared with roommates. However, another option is a micro-unit — a concept that’s become increasingly popular as apartment developers figure out different ways of making more budget-friendly rental apartments available in the hottest renter hubs.
Unsurprisingly, New York City boroughs led the list of locations with the least apartment space. Rentals in Manhattan are at the extreme as the only location that offers less than 300 square feet for $1,500. To put this into context, one apartment in Wichita could fit six Manhattan apartments for the same budget. Likewise, the bottom five of the nation’s cities with the tiniest apartments were wrapped up by Brooklyn, NY, and Queens, NY, with 357 square feet and 399 square feet, respectively.
Next up were Boston, MA, and San Francisco, CA, both of which offer very little space in exchange for your $1,500 in favor of living in some of the most coveted locations. Specifically, Boston offers 340 square feet, while renters have to make do with 345 square feet of space in San Francisco meaning that for those on tight budgets who want to live in these expensive locations, roommates are the only way to go.
Clearly, the state of California has no shortage of diversity and entertainment options. But, with 11 cities in the bottom 20 — from smaller, densely populated towns, such as Santa Ana, CA to major urban hotspots like San Diego, CA and Los Angeles, CA — two things it may be lacking are space and availability. However, California is taking steps in the right direction and pushing to bring more apartments to the market.
The Grass Is Greener and Apartments Are Bigger on the Suburban Side
In the majority of metro areas we analyzed, suburbs offer more space for $1,500 than urban areas. However, the eternal appeal of urban life has young renters turning towards the big cities, forfeiting bigger spaces in lieu of a more vibrant lifestyle. To that end, Aurora, CO, is the only urban area to match its suburban counterparts when it comes to apartment space, taking first place in its metro with 792 square feet.
View the high-resolution images for the metros above by following this link (click on each image for full size).
- RentCafe is a nationwide apartment search website that enables renters to easily find apartments and houses for rent throughout the United States.
- The apartment space you can rent for a monthly budget of $1,500 was calculated using price per square foot derived from the average rents and average size of apartments by city, in multifamily properties of 50 or more units, using Yardi Matrix data.
- Apartment data for New York City was available for three boroughs: Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.
- The analysis includes 100 largest cities in the U.S. by population, based on the U.S. Census Bureau estimates as of 2019.
- Metros are as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau.
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