Special Report

Counties Where Most People Rent Their Homes

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A little over one-third of U.S. households rent their homes. While many associate homeownership with economic stability, renting is often a safer choice, granting more flexibility. In addition, in cities across much of the country, for a large share of residents, particularly young ones, renting is the only financially feasible choice. 

To determine the 50 counties with the highest rental rates, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey. We ranked county and county equivalents by five-year estimates of the share of housing units that are occupied by renters. County equivalents include independent cities. Nationwide, 35.6% of housing units are rental properties. Among the 50 counties on this list, that figure ranges from 50% to nearly 80% of housing units.

Young people are far more likely to rent homes than buy. Well over half of all renters in the United States are under the age of 35, whereas that age group accounts for less than 10% of homeowners. Many of the counties on this list have such high shares of renters because they have younger populations. 

According to the census, 23.2% of Americans are 18-34 years old. In all but five of the places on this list, that age group accounts for a larger share of the population, including nine where more than 40% of the population is 18-34. In two of these, over half the population falls into that age group, some of just a handful of counties or county equivalents nationwide where that is the case. This is the youngest county in every state.

Virginia has by far the most places on this list, with 14. Georgia is second with five, New York has four, and Alaska has three. So many Virginia counties make this list because the state has a number of independent cities, which are communities that do not fall in the jurisdiction of a county, and are considered county equivalents by the Census Bureau. These independent cities are often much more urban than the typical county, which has a mix of urban and rural places.

Population density is a factor in the share of housing units that are rentals. In highly-urban areas, a large share of residents live in multi-story rental buildings, rather than single-family homes. The U.S. population density is 93 people per square mile. The majority of these counties have population densities in excess of 1,000 people per square mile. All but one of the 10 most population-dense counties in the country are on this list, including New York County, which comprises the island of Manhattan. These are the counties with the highest rent in America.

Click here to see counties where most people rent their homes
Click here to see our detailed methodology

50. Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana
> Rental occupied housing units: 50.0%
> Median rental cost: $725 — 1,504th lowest of 3,045 counties (tied)
> Median home value: $148,300 — 1,304th highest of 3,046 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $30,625 — 42nd lowest of 3,046 counties

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49. Lynchburg city, Virginia
> Rental occupied housing units: 50.2%
> Median rental cost: $859 — 782nd highest of 3,045 counties (tied)
> Median home value: $162,900 — 1,033rd highest of 3,046 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $49,201 — 1,075th lowest of 3,046 counties

48. Orleans Parish, Louisiana
> Rental occupied housing units: 50.2%
> Median rental cost: $1,025 — 415th highest of 3,045 counties (tied)
> Median home value: $250,000 — 357th highest of 3,046 counties
> Median household income: $43,258 — 562nd lowest of 3,046 counties

47. Kodiak Island Borough, Alaska
> Rental occupied housing units: 50.3%
> Median rental cost: $1,412 — 91st highest of 3,045 counties
> Median home value: $295,100 — 218th highest of 3,046 counties
> Median household income: $79,173 — 202nd highest of 3,046 counties

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46. Oktibbeha County, Mississippi
> Rental occupied housing units: 50.3%
> Median rental cost: $796 — 1,076th highest of 3,045 counties (tied)
> Median home value: $165,000 — 1,000th highest of 3,046 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $39,490 — 307th lowest of 3,046 counties

45. Oglala Lakota County, South Dakota
> Rental occupied housing units: 50.4%
> Median rental cost: $495 — 65th lowest of 3,045 counties (tied)
> Median home value: $35,000 — 2nd lowest of 3,046 counties
> Median household income: $31,423 — 53rd lowest of 3,046 counties

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44. Muscogee County, Georgia
> Rental occupied housing units: 50.9%
> Median rental cost: $925 — 609th highest of 3,045 counties (tied)
> Median home value: $142,900 — 1,378th highest of 3,046 counties
> Median household income: $47,418 — 910th lowest of 3,046 counties

43. Milwaukee County, Wisconsin
> Rental occupied housing units: 50.9%
> Median rental cost: $889 — 694th highest of 3,045 counties (tied)
> Median home value: $164,200 — 1,007th highest of 3,046 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $52,260 — 1,457th lowest of 3,046 counties

42. Sioux County, North Dakota
> Rental occupied housing units: 51.3%
> Median rental cost: $430 — 17th lowest of 3,045 counties
> Median home value: $83,300 — 301st lowest of 3,046 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $41,893 — 458th lowest of 3,046 counties

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41. Grand Forks County, North Dakota
> Rental occupied housing units: 51.4%
> Median rental cost: $828 — 913th highest of 3,045 counties (tied)
> Median home value: $208,200 — 598th highest of 3,046 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $53,721 — 1,447th highest of 3,046 counties

40. Newport News city, Virginia
> Rental occupied housing units: 51.7%
> Median rental cost: $1,075 — 340th highest of 3,045 counties (tied)
> Median home value: $194,700 — 698th highest of 3,046 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $54,511 — 1,358th highest of 3,046 counties (tied)

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39. Radford city, Virginia
> Rental occupied housing units: 51.8%
> Median rental cost: $839 — 864th highest of 3,045 counties (tied)
> Median home value: $171,000 — 924th highest of 3,046 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $34,576 — 120th lowest of 3,046 counties

38. Baltimore city, Maryland
> Rental occupied housing units: 52.3%
> Median rental cost: $1,094 — 320th highest of 3,045 counties
> Median home value: $167,300 — 970th highest of 3,046 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $52,164 — 1,440th lowest of 3,046 counties (tied)

37. Hopewell city, Virginia
> Rental occupied housing units: 52.9%
> Median rental cost: $920 — 620th highest of 3,045 counties (tied)
> Median home value: $126,100 — 1,358th lowest of 3,046 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $43,262 — 563rd lowest of 3,046 counties

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36. Todd County, South Dakota
> Rental occupied housing units: 53.0%
> Median rental cost: $458 — 31st lowest of 3,045 counties
> Median home value: $26,600 — the lowest of 3,046 counties
> Median household income: $24,102 — 5th lowest of 3,046 counties

35. Brazos County, Texas
> Rental occupied housing units: 53.0%
> Median rental cost: $966 — 505th highest of 3,045 counties (tied)
> Median home value: $217,700 — 538th highest of 3,046 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $50,289 — 1,200th lowest of 3,046 counties

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34. Christian County, Kentucky
> Rental occupied housing units: 53.1%
> Median rental cost: $858 — 789th highest of 3,045 counties (tied)
> Median home value: $121,000 — 1,239th lowest of 3,046 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $44,279 — 645th lowest of 3,046 counties (tied)

33. North Slope Borough, Alaska
> Rental occupied housing units: 53.2%
> Median rental cost: $1,050 — 371st highest of 3,045 counties (tied)
> Median home value: $162,500 — 1,039th highest of 3,046 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $79,083 — 203rd highest of 3,046 counties

32. Phillips County, Arkansas
> Rental occupied housing units: 53.9%
> Median rental cost: $573 — 281st lowest of 3,045 counties (tied)
> Median home value: $80,800 — 248th lowest of 3,046 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $33,724 — 102nd lowest of 3,046 counties

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31. Liberty County, Georgia
> Rental occupied housing units: 54.0%
> Median rental cost: $1,064 — 356th highest of 3,045 counties (tied)
> Median home value: $133,700 — 1,507th lowest of 3,046 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $50,411 — 1,211th lowest of 3,046 counties (tied)

30. Los Angeles County, California
> Rental occupied housing units: 54.0%
> Median rental cost: $1,534 — 58th highest of 3,045 counties
> Median home value: $615,500 — 23rd highest of 3,046 counties
> Median household income: $71,358 — 337th highest of 3,046 counties

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29. Dougherty County, Georgia
> Rental occupied housing units: 54.1%
> Median rental cost: $774 — 1,208th highest of 3,045 counties (tied)
> Median home value: $106,200 — 851st lowest of 3,046 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $40,947 — 391st lowest of 3,046 counties

28. Queens County, New York
> Rental occupied housing units: 54.9%
> Median rental cost: $1,629 — 40th highest of 3,045 counties
> Median home value: $575,600 — 35th highest of 3,046 counties
> Median household income: $72,028 — 315th highest of 3,046 counties

27. Winchester city, Virginia
> Rental occupied housing units: 55.3%
> Median rental cost: $1,096 — 314th highest of 3,045 counties (tied)
> Median home value: $247,800 — 366th highest of 3,046 counties
> Median household income: $61,102 — 800th highest of 3,046 counties

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26. Essex County, New Jersey
> Rental occupied housing units: 55.6%
> Median rental cost: $1,211 — 191st highest of 3,045 counties
> Median home value: $395,900 — 89th highest of 3,046 counties
> Median household income: $63,959 — 624th highest of 3,046 counties

25. Whitman County, Washington
> Rental occupied housing units: 55.8%
> Median rental cost: $842 — 850th highest of 3,045 counties (tied)
> Median home value: $230,200 — 461st highest of 3,046 counties
> Median household income: $42,288 — 496th lowest of 3,046 counties

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24. St. Louis city, Missouri
> Rental occupied housing units: 55.9%
> Median rental cost: $840 — 859th highest of 3,045 counties (tied)
> Median home value: $143,700 — 1,367th highest of 3,046 counties
> Median household income: $45,782 — 765th lowest of 3,046 counties

23. Richmond city, Virginia
> Rental occupied housing units: 56.3%
> Median rental cost: $1,070 — 350th highest of 3,045 counties
> Median home value: $244,200 — 384th highest of 3,046 counties
> Median household income: $51,421 — 1,325th lowest of 3,046 counties

22. Riley County, Kansas
> Rental occupied housing units: 56.4%
> Median rental cost: $943 — 561st highest of 3,045 counties
> Median home value: $205,900 — 615th highest of 3,046 counties
> Median household income: $51,098 — 1,280th lowest of 3,046 counties (tied)

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21. Norfolk city, Virginia
> Rental occupied housing units: 56.5%
> Median rental cost: $1,077 — 336th highest of 3,045 counties
> Median home value: $215,800 — 549th highest of 3,046 counties
> Median household income: $53,026 — 1,506th highest of 3,046 counties

20. Alexandria city, Virginia
> Rental occupied housing units: 56.6%
> Median rental cost: $1,774 — 22nd highest of 3,045 counties
> Median home value: $572,700 — 36th highest of 3,046 counties
> Median household income: $102,227 — 43rd highest of 3,046 counties

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19. Arlington County, Virginia
> Rental occupied housing units: 57.5%
> Median rental cost: $2,005 — 6th highest of 3,045 counties
> Median home value: $731,700 — 13th highest of 3,046 counties
> Median household income: $122,604 — 7th highest of 3,046 counties

18. District of Columbia, District of Columbia
> Rental occupied housing units: 57.5%
> Median rental cost: $1,607 — 44th highest of 3,045 counties
> Median home value: $618,100 — 21st highest of 3,046 counties
> Median household income: $90,842 — 85th highest of 3,046 counties

17. Madison County, Idaho
> Rental occupied housing units: 58.3%
> Median rental cost: $775 — 1,206th highest of 3,045 counties (tied)
> Median home value: $229,800 — 464th highest of 3,046 counties
> Median household income: $44,419 — 657th lowest of 3,046 counties

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16. Geary County, Kansas
> Rental occupied housing units: 58.3%
> Median rental cost: $954 — 532nd highest of 3,045 counties (tied)
> Median home value: $143,100 — 1,374th highest of 3,046 counties
> Median household income: $52,019 — 1,414th lowest of 3,046 counties

15. Emporia city, Virginia
> Rental occupied housing units: 59.0%
> Median rental cost: $756 — 1,311th highest of 3,045 counties (tied)
> Median home value: $121,600 — 1,249th lowest of 3,046 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $30,058 — 35th lowest of 3,046 counties

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14. Harrisonburg city, Virginia
> Rental occupied housing units: 59.5%
> Median rental cost: $911 — 647th highest of 3,045 counties (tied)
> Median home value: $220,100 — 519th highest of 3,046 counties
> Median household income: $49,117 — 1,069th lowest of 3,046 counties

13. Clarke County, Georgia
> Rental occupied housing units: 59.5%
> Median rental cost: $872 — 741st highest of 3,045 counties (tied)
> Median home value: $186,800 — 754th highest of 3,046 counties
> Median household income: $40,363 — 355th lowest of 3,046 counties

12. Charlottesville city, Virginia
> Rental occupied housing units: 59.9%
> Median rental cost: $1,188 — 206th highest of 3,045 counties (tied)
> Median home value: $329,100 — 164th highest of 3,046 counties
> Median household income: $59,598 — 908th highest of 3,046 counties

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11. Fredericksburg city, Virginia
> Rental occupied housing units: 60.2%
> Median rental cost: $1,287 — 150th highest of 3,045 counties
> Median home value: $376,700 — 106th highest of 3,046 counties
> Median household income: $69,528 — 385th highest of 3,046 counties

10. Tunica County, Mississippi
> Rental occupied housing units: 61.0%
> Median rental cost: $793 — 1,089th highest of 3,045 counties (tied)
> Median home value: $101,800 — 748th lowest of 3,046 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $34,485 — 118th lowest of 3,046 counties

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9. San Francisco County, California
> Rental occupied housing units: 62.0%
> Median rental cost: $2,010 — 5th highest of 3,045 counties
> Median home value: $1,152,300 — 2nd highest of 3,046 counties
> Median household income: $119,136 — 12th highest of 3,046 counties

8. Suffolk County, Massachusetts
> Rental occupied housing units: 63.7%
> Median rental cost: $1,657 — 38th highest of 3,045 counties
> Median home value: $547,300 — 39th highest of 3,046 counties
> Median household income: $74,881 — 260th highest of 3,046 counties

7. Petersburg city, Virginia
> Rental occupied housing units: 63.9%
> Median rental cost: $958 — 521st highest of 3,045 counties (tied)
> Median home value: $111,800 — 1,008th lowest of 3,046 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $43,029 — 550th lowest of 3,046 counties

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6. Hudson County, New Jersey
> Rental occupied housing units: 67.6%
> Median rental cost: $1,450 — 78th highest of 3,045 counties
> Median home value: $400,800 — 86th highest of 3,046 counties
> Median household income: $75,062 — 259th highest of 3,046 counties

5. Kings County, New York
> Rental occupied housing units: 69.7%
> Median rental cost: $1,483 — 67th highest of 3,045 counties
> Median home value: $734,800 — 12th highest of 3,046 counties
> Median household income: $63,973 — 623rd highest of 3,046 counties

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4. Aleutians West Census Area, Alaska
> Rental occupied housing units: 72.3%
> Median rental cost: $1,476 — 69th highest of 3,045 counties
> Median home value: $316,700 — 180th highest of 3,046 counties
> Median household income: $87,443 — 114th highest of 3,046 counties

3. Chattahoochee County, Georgia
> Rental occupied housing units: 75.7%
> Median rental cost: $1,135 — 263rd highest of 3,045 counties
> Median home value: $82,000 — 272nd lowest of 3,046 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $45,700 — 759th lowest of 3,046 counties

2. New York County, New York
> Rental occupied housing units: 75.9%
> Median rental cost: $1,787 — 17th highest of 3,045 counties
> Median home value: $1,024,500 — 6th highest of 3,046 counties
> Median household income: $89,812 — 94th highest of 3,046 counties

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1. Bronx County, New York
> Rental occupied housing units: 79.9%
> Median rental cost: $1,247 — 168th highest of 3,045 counties
> Median home value: $427,900 — 73rd highest of 3,046 counties
> Median household income: $41,895 — 459th lowest of 3,046 counties

Methodology

To determine the counties with the highest share of renters, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed five-year estimates of the share of housing units that are occupied by renters from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey.

Counties were excluded if rental rates were not available in the 2020 ACS, if there were fewer than 1,000 housing units, or if the sampling error associated with a county’s data was deemed too high.

The sampling error was defined as too high if the coefficient of variation — a statistical assessment of how reliable an estimate is — for a county’s rental rate was above 15% and greater than two standard deviations above the mean CV for all counties’ rental rates. We similarly excluded counties that had a sampling error too high for their population, using the same definition.

Counties were ranked based on the percentage of housing units that are occupied by renters. To break ties, we used the number of housing units that are occupied by renters. 

Additional information on median rental cost, median home value, and median household income are also five-year estimates from the 2020 ACS.

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