Finding an apartment that’s just the right fit is every renter’s dream, whether we’re talking budget, lifestyle, or square footage. While some renters are willing to give up the extra room to live in a bustling city, many are turning to other cities and towns where they can get more apartment space for the money.
So, we’re continuing our annual tradition of helping apartment-seekers find out where they can rent the most space on a monthly budget of $1,500. We’ve expanded our list to 200 U.S. cities, comparing the amount of space you can rent on the same budget, using apartment data from our sister company, Yardi Matrix.
As expected, Sunbelt and Midwestern cities rule when it comes to apartment space. Wichita, KS is the number one spot where you can get the biggest bang for your buck on our list of large cities. Additionally, rental apartments in smaller cities — like Columbus, GA and McAllen, TX — are more likely to provide ample living space on a budget.
Conversely, in big cities on the East and West coasts it’s unlikely to get too much space for $1,500 per month. For example, Manhattan apartments offer the least amount of space for this budget in the country, the same as last year.
At the national level, a monthly rent of $1,500 will get you an average of 782 square feet of apartment space. The good news is that more than 56% of the 200 largest cities in the nation offer more square feet than the national average.
Wichita is the best large city, offering the most apartment space for $1,500
When it comes to big cities, the best deals can be found in Wichita, KS, where $1,500 will stretch to as much as 1,463 square feet. Here, renters with this monthly budget get to enjoy as much space as a three-bedroom, maybe even a four-bedroom rental. What's more, Wichita also ranked as one of the cities with the lowest cost of living in the U.S., while also being a competitive rental market.
In second place is Toledo, OH, where you could rent 1,379 square feet of apartment space for $1,500. Notably, renters dreaming of living large can get three or four-bedroom apartments for this money in the Glass City. Plus, a booming economy makes Toledo an irresistible spot for young professionals who want to start their own businesses or further their careers in the comfort of their own spacious homes.
Everything is bigger in the South (including apartments), and the following two cities on our list prove just that: In Tulsa, OK, and Oklahoma City, OK, you can get 1,368 and 1,330 square feet respectively for $1,500. In fact, as one of the best places to live in 2022, Tulsa boasts an excellent track record when it comes to the cost of living and housing.
In a change from last year’s report, Memphis, TN, manages to strip Fort Wayne, IN of the fifth position by a small margin. The heart of Tennessee’s media and entertainment and one of the most populous cities in the Southeast, Memphis offers an average of 1,293 square feet of living space for a monthly rent of $1,500.
$1,500 will rent you the least apartment space in the most popular large cities
Large, renter magnet cities with the tiniest apartments are dispersed mostly along the East and West coasts. And at the top of this list, Manhattan, NY, takes the cake. More precisely, it is the only location in the nation where you can get less than 300 square feet for a monthly budget of $1,500.
Also providing small spaces, of less than 400 square feet, are Boston, MA, San Francisco, CA, Brooklyn, NY, Jersey City, NJ, and Queens, NY, thereby leaving renters in this budget with just one option — sharing apartments with roommates.
In this case, Boston, MA, and San Francisco, CA apartments come in second and third in the nation with the least apartment space for $1,500. Renters in these coveted locations have to make do with 320 and 336 square feet, respectively.
Back in the Big Apple, another New York City borough sits in fourth place. Brooklyn, NY apartments offer an average of only 342 square feet of space. However, it’s not all tiny spaces and living with roommates in the state of New York. In fact, in places like Rochester, Buffalo and Syracuse, you can get more than 800 square feet for $1,500.
Rounding out the bottom five, Jersey City, NJ managed to outdo Queens, NY in the race for the smallest apartments in the nation, with an average of 362 square feet compared to Queens' 393.
Columbus, GA leads the list of small cities, offering the biggest bang for your buck in the nation
Columbus, GA apartments are the largest in the nation in this price range. $1,500 a month gets renters in this small, college town, a whopping 1,545 square feet. That means that the average apartment for this amount can be as big as four bedrooms — perfect for students on a smaller budget looking to share their rental with roommates. In fact, of the top 20 small cities with the most apartment space, 17 are college towns.
Next up, McAllen, TX, offers as much as 1,471 square feet for $1,500, or the equivalent of a three or four-bedroom home. McAllen even surpasses Wichita, KS by a small margin, thus also becoming the city with the second-largest apartment spaces in the nation.
Not far behind, Jackson, MS is next on our list, with as much as 1,449 square feet of living space, followed by Akron, OH with 1,393. And, in fifth place, Macon, GA offers its large renter population plenty of apartment room – 1,369 square feet to be precise.
The state of California is the home base for small cities with small apartments
While the East Coast seems to be the “it” place for big cities with small-scale apartments for renters on a $1,500 budget, the West Coast takes over our small cities ranking. Specifically, the state of California claims 16 such examples in our top 20. Sunnyvale is where you can find the least apartment space in California – and the nation – 405 square feet. Even so, that’s still almost double what its East Coast counterpart, Manhattan, has to offer.
Likewise, renters are also forfeiting larger spaces for California’s sunny, vibrant lifestyle in places like Pasadena, Glendale and Huntington Beach, where they get less than 500 square feet for $1,500. As a matter of fact, the only small city at the top of the list that is outside of California is Bellevue, WA, sitting in fourth place. The average apartment space available for this budget in this high-tech center is 484 square feet.
One thing is clear, big cities don't guarantee big apartments for renters on a strict budget. Instead, the most in-demand coastal locations tend to offer smaller spaces for the money, whereas moving away from the coasts can get you more space and more comfort on the same budget.
Check out the top 10 cities that offer the most space for $1,500 by state:
- RentCafe.com 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 200 largest cities in the U.S. by population, based on the U.S. Census Bureau estimates as of 2021.
- We defined large cities as those cities that have a population of over 225,000, while small cities as those with less than 225,000 inhabitants.
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