The 6 Best Cities for Renters in 2022

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The 6 Best Cities for Renters in 2022

Teresa Bergen · Jan 13, 2022

A “best city” designation is highly subjective, since choosing your home is always so personal. Where one person might thrive in the desert with coyotes and cacti for neighbors, another might prefer the camaraderie of cafés and commuting. In this year’s list, we’ve tried to balance reasonable rent, scenic and cultural attractions, and quality of life, as well as provide a range of regions and terrain. So no, New York City didn’t make the list. But all of our winners boast plenty of fun things for residents to do.

WIthout further ado, here are the 6 best cities for renters in 2022:

Virginia Beach, VA

King Neptune statue in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

With a population of more than 450,000, this city in the Hampton Roads area of southeastern Virginia promises plenty of big city living and, as you probably guessed from the name, beaches. In fact, its 35 miles of coastline holds the Guinness Book of World Records title for longest pleasure beach.

Virginia Beach offers a wide range of job possibilities, with high-tech manufacturing, corporate headquarters of internationally known businesses, defense contractors, a multi-billion dollar offshore wind industry, a naval air station, and all the tourism and service positions that come with the beaches. The city also made a recent list of best cities for African Americans, with more than 5 percent of businesses in the metro area being Black-owned.

The average Virginia Beach apartment is 972 square feet and currently rents for $1,176 per month. Not bad for a thriving beach town.

El Paso, TX

Downtown El Paso

For cactus lovers who enjoy big skies, lots of open space, and proximity to the Mexican border, El Paso has some great options for renters. With a population of 682,669, it’s definitely a big city, sitting right on the border across from Juarez, Mexico. Speaking Spanish will definitely come in handy here. If you don’t already speak Spanish, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to learn a new language in El Paso as you get to know the border culture.

Many residents of this city in Texas’ westernmost corner work for the massive Fort Bliss, an army base located nearby. Other big public sector employers include US Customs and Border Patrol, public school districts, the University of Texas at El Paso, the city, and the county. There are also plenty of private employers around, including DISH Network, Western Refining, University Medical Center, and Automatic Data Processing.

Rent is much lower here than it is in many American cities. An average El Paso apartment is 814 square feet and rents for $770 per month. With all those savings, you might even have money left over to enjoy a UTEP basketball game or attend the El Paso Opera. The surrounding area is popular for birdwatching and has a strong biking community. Mountain bikers can enjoy trails just outside the city. People who want to learn about El Paso’s indigenous community should visit Ysleta del Sur Pueblo to meet members of the Tigua tribe and delve into their vibrant culture at the cultural center.

Columbus, OH

Aerial view of downtown Columbus, Ohio.

Columbus is a thriving Midwestern town with lots to love about it, from its bustling riverfront park and promenade to a restaurant culture that ranges from the traditional food of its German roots to tasty modern vegan innovations. The state capital has plenty of big attractions, including the Columbus Art Museum, the lovely Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, a huge zoo, and many, many football fans rooting for the Ohio State Buckeyes. Big employers include Ohio State University, Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, Cardinal Health, Big Lots, Wendy’s, and Ohio State University.

What do renters get? An average Columbus apartment measures 885 square feet and rents for $918 per month.

Fremont, CA

Aerial view of Lake Elizabeth in Fremont, CA.

Brace yourselves, readers, because rent on this list suddenly skyrocketed. While Fremont won’t seem like a bargain to most Americans, those who live in the Bay Area of California pay an average of $2,824 in rent, up about 5 percent from last year. So those who really, really want to live in this exciting part of California might do a happy dance when they find an 831 square foot apartment for just $2,406 a month in Fremont.

Living here feels more San Jose than San Francisco, but you’ll still be close to all the Bay Area and Silicon Valley attractions (if you can get through the traffic, at least). Fortunately, Fremont boasts plenty of local employers like Tesla, Western Digital, Seagate, Kaiser Permanente, and Boston Scientific if you want to avoid a stressful commute.

Nearly 60 percent of Fremont residents identify as Asian, so Asian renters will have access to lots of stuff that feels familiar, and non-Asians will have the opportunity to learn about other cultures. Above all else, Fremont is home to large number of people from India. Many outsiders experience different culture through food before anything else, and Fremont certainly has some excellent Indian restaurants. But to get an even more fun immersive experience, get to know your new neighbors by taking up the homegrown cardio dance workout Bombay Jam.

Lexington, Kentucky

Aerial view of downtown Lexington, Kentucky.

More a city mouse than a country mouse? Lexington combines the rural with the urban. The city of 323,780 is known as the “horse capital of the world” in a state famous for its blue grass. If you love horses, you’ll probably fit right in. If you don’t, keep your mouth shut.

This Kentucky city is very enticing for job seekers. You have the huge University of Kentucky, plus opportunities at Amazon, Trane, UPS, IBM, Toyota, Lexmark International, and Lockheed-Martin, to name a few. And with an unemployment rate of only 5.5 percent, your prospects are stellar.

Best of all, rent is quite reasonable in Kentucky’s second biggest city. Expect to pay about $898 for a 901-square-foot apartment.

Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Enormous Falls Park in Sioux City, South Dakota.

Many people who didn’t start there never consider moving to South Dakota, and most who think about the state picture the western side, where the faces of Mount Rushmore gaze stonily out into the distance. But Sioux Falls is a very affordable city in eastern South Dakota, with an average rent of $733 for a one-bedroom apartment. In fact, the cost of living here is about 6 percent below the national average.

As you might expect from the name, Sioux Falls also offers some impressive waterfalls. Enormous Falls Park surrounds the falls with green space and is a popular place with picnickers, walkers, and sunbathers. SculptureWalk is another fun feature. Each spring, a local panel chooses new sculptures to display downtown on loan from artists all over the country and beyond. Strolling downtown, you can see more than 60 of these artworks. Believe it or not, Sioux Falls also has one of the country’s best Middle Eastern restaurants, Sanaa’s Gourmet Mediterranean, owned by chef and cookbook author Sanaa Abourezk.

Choosing a place to live is a huge decision. But whether you’re artsy or outdoorsy, more interested in opera or dive bars, there’s sure to be an apartment out there in a place that you can enthusiastically call home.

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