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- The average American renter could upsize to an extra bedroom for almost $200 per month.
- People renting in 83 cities — mostly suburbs — could enjoy an additional bedroom for less than $100 each month, which is the equivalent of about nine pizzas.
- Renters in Portsmouth, VA, could upsize to an extra bedroom by paying only $25 per month, or about two and a half pizzas.
- Memphis, TN, is the only major city where renters could upsize for less than $100 each month.
Working and living in the same place is no longer just a temporary arrangement for millions of Americans. In fact, more than half of the job holders in the U.S. have the opportunity to work from home at least one day a week. As a consequence, the need for ample living spaces has intensified even more. Granted, it doesn’t help that the total apartment size has decreased over the past decade.
Space matters — a lot more than you think — whether you’re working from home five days a week or in a hybrid system. For apartment-dwellers who want more space, one simple solution is to upsize on the cheap. That may not be an easy thing to accomplish in some cities — but do not worry, we found plenty of places where all you’d have to do is give up a couple of pizzas each month for an extra bedroom.
The average American renter could upsize to an extra bedroom for $200 per month
In this super-competitive apartment market, the cost of an extra bedroom often comes at a premium. We feel your pain, that’s why we wanted to help by finding those places where you can get one extra bedroom for a reasonable amount of money (or by just giving up one of your favorite comfort foods: pizza). So, we looked at 728 U.S. cities and determined that, on average, it costs $199 extra per month to upgrade to an apartment with an additional bedroom. We then ranked the cities based on the lowest amount necessary to upgrade. Of these, in 83 locations — mostly suburbs — you could upsize for less than $100 per month. Here they are:
To be more specific, renters looking to upsize from a studio to a larger rental where the living room doesn’t double as a bedroom could do so just by paying an extra $71 per month.
Furthermore, Americans living in one-bedroom apartments could make the move to a two-bedroom rental for an average extra cost of $236 per month. Meanwhile, those who already live in a two-bedroom apartment but need more space would need to take $294 per month, on average, out of their pockets.
We found that renters could upgrade to an extra bedroom for less than $50 per month in 17 locations — led by Portsmouth, VA — most of which are suburbs located in the South. What’s more, three locations in the top 20 best places to upsize for less than $100 are mid-sized cities: Augusta, GA; Des Moines, IA; and McAllen, TX. Here, renters would have to add between $29 and $52 to their monthly rent payments to upsize their living spaces.
Interestingly enough, Memphis, TN, is the only major city in our ranking where upgrading to an apartment with an extra bedroom would cost less than $100 per month. More exactly, Memphis renters would have to chip in an additional $87 each month to enjoy a larger unit.
Renters living in Portsmouth, VA, could upsize their living space by one bedroom simply by cutting down on 2.4 pizzas. That translates into a mere $25 each month, or a total of $300 per year. Needless to say, this is a fantastic deal for renters who work from home or in a hybrid model and are on the lookout for much-needed extra elbow room in this vibrant city that's just 3 miles away from Norfolk. Portsmouth offers the quality of life of a small town, with good infrastructure and a diverse talent-focused economy. What's more, the cost of living in Portsmouth is almost on par with the national average, but renters here tend to have a higher quality of life.
Next comes Augusta, GA, one of the core cities in our ranking that's located about two hours away from Atlanta's hustle and bustle. Here, renters could enjoy an extra bedroom for an additional $29 each month, or $348 per year. This would require giving up nearly 3 pizzas — but it's totally worth the sacrifice, especially for lower-income renters living in affordable neighborhoods such as Albion Acres, West End, and North Leg. The cost of living in Augusta is significantly below the national average, and the city is a great renting spot for young professionals, students, families and retirees alike.
Coming in at no. 3 in our ranking is Williamsburg, VA, a history-rich location about an hour and a half away from Norfolk. Renters dreaming of upgrading their living spaces by one bedroom could do it for as little as $31 per month, or $372 per year. Combined with the city’s relatively affordable cost of living, upgrading your rental in Williamsburg is a breeze. Plus, this is one of the safest cities in the state of Virginia, as well as a popular place to work thanks to the growing tourism and telecommunications sectors.
In Springdale, AR, apartment-dwellers can enjoy an extra bedroom for about $36 or a total of $432 per year. This is a good renting place for families raising children, so upsizing would be a great deal for those looking for more living space. Plus, Springdale is just 9 miles away from Fayetteville, the most competitive small city for renters, and greatly benefits from Walmart's immense economic impact in Northwest Arkansas.
If you live in Noblesville, IN, you could upsize your rental at an average monthly cost of $36. Noblesville renters enjoy below-average cost of living, making this small city a great place to rent and even save some money. Plus, since Noblesville is part of one of the largest metros in our ranking, renters have easier access to well-paid jobs, making that pizza loss bearable.
In Gastonia, NC, a relatively more affordable suburb of Charlotte, you could upsize your rental by a monthly cost of 42$ for one extra bedroom. It's easy to see why upsizing your rental here is a good idea: Gastonia’s proximity to Charlotte, combined with a rapidly growing economy and plenty of entertainment options, makes it a desirable place to live.
Orange Park is a small Florida town that offers a perfect mix between gorgeous beaches and suburban vibes while being just a 25-minute car ride from Jacksonville. If you live in a rental apartment in Orange Park and need extra space for your home office, for your new family member, or simply for yourself, that’s totally doable! The monthly cost for an extra bedroom amounts to $42.
By adding $43 to their monthly payments, renters in Conway, AR, could easily enjoy an extra bedroom where they could set up a cool home office, a kids’ room, or even a home gym to stay in shape if they want to match the city’s sporty energy. Either way, people renting in Conway enjoy a significantly more affordable cost of living compared to the rest of Arkansas and even the national average.
Renters in Midwest City, OK, can also upgrade to apartments with an additional bedroom for an average extra cost of just $43 on their monthly rent check. This would allow them to have more elbow room in this laidback and friendly suburban town that's less than a half-hour drive from all the conveniences and attractions Oklahoma City has to offer.
Hybrid or working-from-home renters in High Point, NC, can strike that much sought-after work-life balance by upgrading to an apartment with an additional bedroom. All they have to do is put in an extra $44 to their monthly rent payments. With Greensboro and Winston-Salem both less than a 30-minute drive away and easy access to the Great Smoky and the Blue Ridge mountains, it's easy to see why upsizing is a good idea for High Point renters in search of more living space.
Gainesville, GA, is a growing small town where renters have plenty of exciting things to do. Plus, living in Gainesville puts renters less than an hour's drive from all the attractions in Atlanta. Upsizing to an extra bedroom would require them to pay an additional $45 per month.
In Chesapeake, VA, moving into a rental with one extra bedroom would require paying $46 more each month.
For renters in Kentwood — one of the best places to live in Michigan — spending an additional $46 per month would be enough to move into a larger apartment.
Just like in Kentwood, people living in rental apartments in Fairfield, OH, could upsize to an extra bedroom for $46 per month.
In Greenwood, IN, a family-friendly suburb of Indianapolis, renters could pay about $47 to live in an apartment with an additional bedroom.
Cutting down on about 3 pizzas each month, which adds up to a total of $48, can cover the cost of upsizing to apartments with one extra bedroom for renters in Merrillville, IN.
Renters in Des Moines, IA, one of the larger cities that made it into our ranking, could move into apartments with one extra bedroom for an additional $49 per month.
McAllen, TX, is one of the few larger cities where renters could move into an apartment with an extra bedroom for an additional $52 per month.
Apartment-dwellers in Euclid, OH, would need to add an extra $53 to their rent check to enjoy the perks of living in a rental with one extra bedroom.
In Bentonville, AR, renters looking to upgrade and move into larger living spaces could do so for as low as $54 per month.
Here are some other cities from a selection of states that made it into our ranking:
- Essex, Frederick, Cockeysville, Greenbelt, Columbia, Parkville and Glen Burnie, MD;
- North Little Rock and Rogers, AR;
- Norman, Broken Arrow and Edmond, OK;
- Huntersville, Mooresville and Concord, NC;
- Midlothian, Fredericksburg and Manassas, VA;
- Auburn Hills, Waterford, Rochester Hills, Westland, Grand Rapids, Warren and East Lansing, MI;
- Riverdale, Stockbridge and Decatur, GA;
- Fairborn, Toledo, Gahanna, Parma, Hilliard, Reynoldsburg and Westerville, OH;
- Fontana, Temecula, Clovis, Hawthorne and Lancaster, CA.
Here's how much it would cost you to upsize to one extra bedroom in each metro:
RentCafe.com is a nationwide apartment search website that enables renters to easily find apartments and houses for rent throughout the U.S.
To compile this report, we ranked cities based on the least amount needed to upgrade to an apartment with one extra bedroom, paying less than $100 per month.
Apartment data was provided by our sister company, Yardi Matrix, a business development and asset management tool for brokers, sponsors, banks, and equity sources underwriting investments in the multifamily, office, industrial and self-storage sectors. Rent data covers rents in large-scale apartment buildings of 50 units or more.
The extra costs for upsizing to a rental apartment by one bedroom were calculated from Yardi Matrix data as a weighted average based on rents by bedroom types: Extra costs in rent by upsizing from studio to one-bedroom apartments, from one-bedroom to two-bedroom apartments, and from two-bedroom to three-bedroom apartments. The amounts presented are for informational purposes only. Actual extra costs for upsizing depend on the exact location, building quality, and apartment size.
We initially analyzed a total of 728 U.S. cities. Of those, the final report included 84 cities, mostly suburbs, where the extra amount for upsizing is less than $100. The criteria included: Cities with at least 2,000 apartment units where the extra cost for upsizing with one bedroom is less than $100; a population of less than 300,000 inhabitants; and proximity to metro areas with at least 500,000 inhabitants.
In order to better visualize the extra cost of upsizing, we translated those amounts in the number of pizzas renters would need to give up per month, based on Cost of Living data from The Council for Community and Economic Research - average prices of Q1 2022 for each metro area.
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Veronica Grecu is a senior creative writer and researcher for RentCafe. With more than 10 years of experience in the real estate industry, she covers a variety of topics in residential and commercial real estate, including trends and industry news. Previously, she was involved in producing content for Multi-Housing News, Commercial Property Executive and Yardi Matrix. Veronica’s academic background includes a B.A. in Applied Modern Languages and an M.A. in Advertising and PR.
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