Median rents have hit record highs across the country, thanks to inflation and pandemic-related shortages of housing and building supplies. In many parts of the country, people who choose to rent may find it difficult to meet conventional wisdom’s rule that monthly rent should not exceed 30% of one’s monthly income. While rent prices are prohibitively high across a large part of the country, in nearly every state there is at least one county where rents fall well below the national average.
To find the county with the lowest rent in every state, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed five-year estimates of median gross rent among counties and county equivalents from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey. It is important to note that the figures reflected here are for 2020, the most recent data available through the census. While prices today are much higher across much of the country, the least expensive rental market in each state in 2020 is likely still one of the least expensive markets in 2022. The national 2020 median rent was $1,096. In 49 of the 50 states, there is at least one county with a lower 2020 median gross rent.
Housing costs reflect the income levels of the population living there. Costs tend to be less expensive in poorer communities. The U.S. median household income is $64,996. Of the 50 counties on this list, 49 have lower typical household incomes compared to their home state and 28 have median household incomes of less than $50,000. This is the richest town in every state.
Nationwide, 2020 median gross rent comes to 29.6% of median household income. Even after accounting for the lower incomes in most of these counties, rent remains relatively affordable in more than two-thirds of the places on this list. In Washington County, Kansas, median gross rent comes to 16.7% of income. These are the U.S. cities where the most families need food stamps.
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