Housing

This Is the Worst American City for Renters

Two important things have happened in the housing market in the past two years. Mortgage rates moved to a historically low level below 3% on a 30-year fixed-rate loan (before recently bouncing back to well above 5%). And Americans have become more mobile. The COVID-19 pandemic forced companies to close offices. Working from home has given millions of Americans a chance to relocate from where they had to live to where they want to live.

The primary effect of low mortgage rates and more mobility is that home demand in many markets has soared, and along with that prices. How have Americans reacted? Some have been forced to rent because they cannot afford down payments. Some have decided to rent because they want the flexibility to move. This, in turn, has increased the demand for home rentals in some cities.

The recent The Best Cities for Renters in 2022 report from rental search portal RentCafe includes an examination of 115 American cities. The yardsticks used in the study included the quality of apartments, quality of neighborhoods, job growth and even air quality. The 17 measurements used were sorted into three major categories: Cost of Living & Housing, Local Economy and Quality of Life.

Cities in the southern tier of states did particularly well. Florida and Texas dominated the top of the list with six of the top 11 cities. Round Rock, Texas, ranked first. It is close to Austin, one of the fastest-growing large cities in America.

The bottom of the list was dominated by old, industrial cities, particularly in Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. They tend to be cities that have lost many of their residents over the past several decades. At the bottom of the list of cities for renters is Newark, New Jersey, near New York City. The city has a population of 300,000 and a median household income of $37,476, well below the national number, according to the Census Bureau. The poverty rate of 26.3% is more than double the national number.

Next on the list of worst cities to be a renter is deeply troubled Detroit. The former car capital of America has residential areas that have been deserted. When the city entered Chapter 9 bankruptcy in 2013, it was the largest municipal bankruptcy in American history.

These are the 10 worst American cities for renters:

City Population Avg. Apt SqFt Share of Renters
Newark, N.J. 281,917 701 76.5%
Detroit, Mich. 672,351 782 52.4%
Hartford, Conn. 122,549 800 75.1%
Rochester, N.Y. 206,357 889 63.8%
Stockton, Calif. 311,103 789 50.1%
Akron, Ohio 197,375 908 49.6%
Allentown, Pa. 121,156 897 58.5%
Wilmington, Del. 70,655 880 56.2%
Buffalo, N.Y. 255,805 785 58.5%
Tucson, Ariz. 545,340 777 48.3%


Click here to see each state’s worst city to line in.

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