5 Cities where Renters Get Big Bang for Their Buck

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By Sarah Brady

Lots of people dream of moving to a big metropolitan city like Los Angeles, New York or Chicago. However, moving to a big city isn’t easy when it comes to the cost of living adjustment. The price of housing, which is most people’s biggest expense, is a major consideration when you’re mapping out where you’ll head next.

If you’re flexible about your next locale, there are plenty of cities across the U.S. that offer excitement, but without the huge rent price tag. Here are five major U.S. cities to consider:

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

The largest city in Wisconsin is located right on the shore of Lake Michigan, which gives residents plenty of beaches, fishing and boating to enjoy. Known as the “City of Festivals” , Milwaukee is home to Summerfest and a long list of year-round festivities.

According to ApartmentList, Milwaukee’s rent has been on the rise ion recent years, but it’s still a place to live in than 80 other U.S. cities, and the median rent is $1,132 in 2024.

Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis, home of Graceland and the National Civil Rights Museum, is dotted with historical landmarks. This southern city is known for its food, live music and Mississippi riverfront activities.

Memphis is near the top of several lists of most affordable places to live in the South and in the U.S. According to Apartments.com, Memphis is the second most affordable city nationwide, with the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment at $987 as of late 2023.

St. Louis, Missouri

St. Louis isn’t just known for its signature barbeque, it’s also a city filled with urban parks, museums and music venues.

If you’re thinking of relocating, consider the fact that St. Louis sits atop several lists of most affordable cities in the U.S. According to 2024 figures from RentCafe, the cost of living in Saint Louis is 11% lower than the rest of the U.S. and rent is $1,194 a month on average.

El Paso, Texas

If you like the idea of weekend trips to Mexico or sunshine year-round, try the Sun City. El Paso, Texas is a haven for anyone who loves outdoor activities like biking or running and it’s also known for its abundance of steak houses.

To top it off, El Paso may indeed be the most affordable city in the U.S. A SmartAsset study found that $100,000 goes the farthest in El Paso, in part because there are no state or local income taxes there. According to RentCafe, the cost of buying or renting in El Paso is 29% lower than the rest of the U.S. and the average rent is $1,052, which is about $700 lower than in Austin, Texas.

Louisville, Kentucky

Louisville, Kentucky is home of the Kentucky Derby and, in addition to being a top U.S. destination for foodies, it has access to a variety of natural wonders. While rent has been rising in Kentucky, Apartments.com says rent is now at an average of $1,056 a month, which is 30% lower than the national average of $1,498.