15 Most Expensive Cities to Rent in Based on Monthly Income

Rent can take a big bite out of your monthly budget, especially if you are living in one of these most expensive cities.

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Updated July 18, 2024
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Renting has become a more affordable housing option, given the high mortgage interest rates. According to Census data, 44.5 million people were renters in 2023, up from 43.9 million in 2022.

Depending on where you live, though, the cost of paying rent can quickly dominate your budget. Although housing is often the biggest expense for everyone, it’s a bigger slice of your income in some cities.

A FinanceBuzz study found these 15 cities to be the most expensive cities to rent, based on the percentage of monthly income that goes toward housing. Some cities with higher rent prices are not on this list because the median income in the city balances out the higher rental cost.

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FinanceBuzz took a look at the 100 largest cities in the U.S., based on the most recent Census estimates. From there, the study looked at the average cost of rent versus the median income in the city to derive the percentage of monthly income consumed by average rent in these cities.

15. St. Petersburg, Florida

Wangkun Jia/Adobe Parkshore Plaza and yachts bayfront pier

Residents of St Petersburg on the Gulf Coast earn a median household income of $69,941 and the average cost of rent sits at $1,991. On average, renters are putting 27% of their monthly income toward rent.

14. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Christopher Boswell/Adobe Downtown Philadelphia Pennsylvania City Center

In the City of Brotherly Love, residents spend an average of 27% of their monthly income on rent. While the average cost of rent is $1,893 per month, making it one of the lowest options on this list, the median household income is $56,517. With that, Philly residents face one of the most expensive rental options in the country.

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13. New York, New York

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New York City is notorious for having high rental rates. The good news for New Yorkers is that when median income is taken into account, rent is slightly more affordable in the Big Apple than in Philly or St. Pete. The bad news is that New Yorkers are still spending an average of 27% of their monthly income on rent.

On average, rent is $3,789 per month in the city that never sleeps. That takes a significant amount out of the median annual income of $74,694.

12. Irvine, California

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Irvine residents boast a median annual income of $123,003. But an average annual rent of $3,147 leads residents to spend an average of 27% of their monthly income on housing costs.

11. Boston, Massachusetts

jovannig/Adobe Boston Massachusetts Beautiful city skyline

If you live in Boston, it's likely that rent consumes a major part of your paycheck. With a median income of $86,331 and average rent prices of $3,842 per month, Bostonians spend around 27% of their gross monthly income on rent.

10. Baltimore, Maryland

Kevin Ruck/Adobe Baltimore Maryland Inner Harbor Drone Skyline

Baltimore, often known as the Charm City, might be a great place to live, but the cost of rent is less than charming for most residents.

The average rent for the area is $1,550, which might seem relatively affordable at first glance. However, when you consider the median income of $55,198, rent still accounts for 27% of residents’ income each month.

9. Port St. Lucie, Florida

RobertMiller/Adobe Jupiter Island Martin County Florida

On the east coast of Florida, Port St. Lucie is a tropical paradise for some. But the tropical locale comes with a steep price tag.

The average rent for the area is $1,882 per month. When combined with a median income of $70,613, residents are spending an average of 28% of their income on rent.

8. Los Angeles, California

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Los Angeles is another notoriously expensive city, with average rent at $2,691 per month. A median annual income of $76,135 leads to residents spending 28% of their income on rent.

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7. Anaheim, California

Nancy Pauwels/Adobe neighborhood in Anaheim Orange County California

Anaheim offers close proximity to Disneyland, but if you want to be neighbors with Mickey Mouse, it comes at a high cost.

With a median income of $85,133, Anaheim residents pay an average of $2,368 in rent. That’s 28% of their income out the door to cover housing costs.

6. Santa Ana, California

Matt Gush/Adobe skyline downtown Santa Ana California

Santa Ana draws residents with its temperate climate. But if you want to live in breezy Southern California, you might face sticker shock.

With an average rent of $2,574 per month and a median income of $79,351, Santa Ana residents funnel 29% of their income toward rent.

5. Orlando, Florida

Kevin Ruck/Adobe Orlando Florida Downtown Skyline during day

Orlando, home to Walt Disney World, puts you in the middle of the Sunshine State. But the magical location comes with a rental price tag of $1,902 per month.

While that’s a lower rate than many of the places on this list, a median income of $65,354 means that Orlando residents pay an average of 29% of their income toward rent.

4. Cleveland, Ohio

Jason/Adobe moon over skyline and bridge Cleveland

Cleveland might be a surprise on this list. But with a median income of $37,351, the average monthly rent of $1,363 puts a strain on many households. On average, Cleveland residents spend 29% of their income on rent.

3. Newark, New Jersey

SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe Newark New Jersey USA Skyline

The sticker price for rent in Newark is $1,526 per month. That’s considerably less than their New York neighbors, but it’s not necessarily more affordable.

With a median income of $49,688, Newark residents spend an average of 31% of their monthly income on rent.

2. Miami, Florida

espiegle/Adobe Miami Florida Skyline from palm trees

Miami is in the heart of sunny South Florida. Many people are drawn to the Miami-Dade area despite increasing home insurance rates. So it might not be surprising that Miami is one of the least affordable places for renters.

With a median income of $60,989 and an average monthly rent of $2,538, Miami residents spend an average of 31% of their monthly income on rent.

1. Detroit, Michigan

Leonid Andronov/Adobe Downtown Detroit from Hart Plaza

Detroit tops this list as the most expensive city to be a renter. While rental prices seem modest compared with some other locations on this list at $1,212, a median annual income of $36,453 pushes renters to funnel 33% of their monthly income toward rent in the Motor City.

Bottom line

Antonioguillem/Adobe Happy female roommates moving home resting

If you hope to live in an expensive city, you may have to consider a side hustle even with a full-time job to make ends meet. Or you may need to join forces with a roommate to cover the cost of rent.

Whether you’re a new college grad or thinking of relocating for retirement, make sure to run the numbers before heading to a new hometown.

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Author Details

Sarah Sharkey

Sarah Sharkey is a personal finance writer who enjoys diving into the details to help readers make more informed decisions. She covers mortgages, insurance, money management, travel, and more.