Experts say 'affordable' rent costs 30% of your monthly income. Here are the US cities where people can actually pay that.

Joe Raedle/Getty ImagesIf you’re spending more than 30% of your income on rent, consider a move to one of these cities.
  • For your housing to generally be considered affordable, you shouldn’t pay more than 30% of your income on rent.
  • There are more than 60 US cities where at least half the population is following that rule.
  • You won’t find notoriously expensive cities like New York or San Francisco on the list – many of the entries are cities in the South and Midwest.

A standard measure of housing affordability says you shouldn’t pay more than 30% of your salary on rent.

Of course, that’s near impossible for millions of hardworking Americans, in part because of the soaring cost of housing and stagnating wages in the US.

But there are still some places in America where it’s possible to earn a decent salary while saving money on rent. In fact, there are more than 60 major cities and urban areas where more than half the population spends less than 30% of their income on rent.

Using data from the US Census Bureau’s 2017 American Community Survey, we compiled the 20 large US metro areas with the highest share of residents paying less than 30% of their income on rent. In the No. 1 metro on the list, a whopping 64.4% of the population manages to meet that benchmark each month. As a cutoff, we went with metro areas with at least 500,000 residents.

You won’t find notoriously pricey cities like New York, San Francisco, and Washington, DC, on this list. Instead, the cities where people manage to both earn and save are mostly concentrated in the South and Midwest.

Read on the see the top 20 US cities where you can earn a decent salary and keep most of it, too.


20. Albany, New York

jiawangkun/Shutterstock

Metro population: 886,188

Median household income: $US68,681

Median gross rent: $US968

Percentage of residents spending less than 30% of income on rent: 55.2%


19. Lexington, Kentucky

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Metro population: 512,650

Median household income: $US58,069

Median gross rent: $US817

Percentage of residents spending less than 30% of income on rent: 55.3%


18. Charlotte, North Carolina

ShutterstockA view of the Charlotte skyline from Marshall Park

Metro population: 2,525,305

Median household income: $US61,156

Median gross rent: $US977

Percentage of residents spending less than 30% of income on rent: 55.5%


17. Columbus, Ohio

f11photo/ShutterstockColumbus, Ohio in 2017.

Metro population: 2,078,725

Median household income: $US63,764

Median gross rent: $US916

Percentage of residents spending less than 30% of income on rent: 55.9%


T-15. Salt Lake City, Utah

MoveHub

Metro population: 1,203,105

Median household income: $US71,510

Median gross rent: $US1,068

Percentage of residents spending less than 30% of income on rent: 56.0%


T-15. Knoxville, Tennessee

Metro population: 877,874

Median household income: $US51,848

Median gross rent: $US803

Percentage of residents spending less than 30% of income on rent: 56.0%


14. Nashville, Tennessee

Shutterstock/Sean Pavone

Metro population: 1,904,226

Median household income: $US63,939

Median gross rent: $US1,030

Percentage of residents spending less than 30% of income on rent: 56.2%


13. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Metro population: 2,333,367

Median household income: $US58,521

Median gross rent: $US794

Percentage of residents spending less than 30% of income on rent: 56.5%


12. Kansas City, Missouri

f11photo/Shutterstock

Metro population: 2,126,945

Median household income: $US63,404

Median gross rent: $US935

Percentage of residents spending less than 30% of income on rent: 56.8%


11. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Shutterstock/Jon Bilous

Metro population: 571,903

Median household income: $US65,069

Median gross rent: $US916

Percentage of residents spending less than 30% of income on rent: 56.9%


10. Cincinnati, Ohio

Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Metro population: 2,180,746

Median household income: $US61,653

Median gross rent: $US790

Percentage of residents spending less than 30% of income on rent: 57.1%


9. Raleigh, North Carolina

Sharkshock/Shutterstock

Metro population: 1,335,079

Median household income: $US72,576

Median gross rent: $US1,073

Percentage of residents spending less than 30% of income on rent: 57.4%


8. Toledo, Ohio

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Metro population: 603,668

Median household income: $US50,389

Median gross rent: $US709

Percentage of residents spending less than 30% of income on rent: 57.8%


7. Omaha, Nebraska

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Metro population: 934,184

Median household income: $US65,619

Median gross rent: $US891

Percentage of residents spending less than 30% of income on rent: 57.9%


6. Dayton, Ohio

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Metro population: 803,416

Median household income: $US52,745

Median gross rent: $US764

Percentage of residents spending less than 30% of income on rent: 58.0%


5. Louisville, Kentucky

Metro population: 1,293,722

Median household income: $US57,279

Median gross rent: $US818

Percentage of residents spending less than 30% of income on rent: 58.1%


4. Scranton, Pennsylvania

Wikimedia Commons

Metro population: 555,426

Median household income: $US50,891

Median gross rent: $US764

Percentage of residents spending less than 30% of income on rent: 58.2%


3. Des Moines, Iowa

f11photo/Shutterstock

Metro population: 645,911

Median household income: $US68,649

Median gross rent: $US873

Percentage of residents spending less than 30% of income on rent: 58.7%


2. Ogden, Utah

Paul W Thompson/Shutterstock

Metro population: 666,547

Median household income: $US71,629

Median gross rent: $US931

Percentage of residents spending less than 30% of income on rent: 60.6%


1. Fayetteville, Arkansas

Wikimedia Commons

Metro population: 535,557

Median household income: $US56,038

Median gross rent: $US807

Percentage of residents spending less than 30% of income on rent: 64.4%

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