7 Exceedingly Renter-Friendly Cities You Should Consider Moving To

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It’s not exactly an easy time to be a renter—with millions unemployed, rents going unpaid, and that $600 a week in unemployment benefits, which ended in July, in constant renewal limbo

But rent prices in general are trending downward for the first time in about five years, and renting can be a good housing alternative to avoid the white-hot heat of the current real estate market (which has about 18 percent fewer houses on the market than last year, making competition extra brutal). 

As more employers ditch the office for remote work—some of them permanently—renters may be searching for a new city to get increased square footage for a much-needed home office, or they may just be searching for a new opportunity in a city where the rents aren’t sky high. 

Here are seven cities where it’s great to be a renter, based on criteria such as the average cost of rent, job market prospects, accessibility to outdoor activities (a COVID-19 necessity), and proximity to schools. 

Scottsdale, Arizona

Scottsdale is heaven for anyone who enjoys hiking amidst beautiful scenery like the McDowell Mountains. Located east of Phoenix, Scottsdale is family-friendly—with some of the best schools in the state—and has incredibly comfortable year-round weather, save for a few 100+ degree days in the summer. 

Scottsdale is not only desirable for renters because of its affordability relative to the rest of the West (Apartment site Zumper recently reported that Scottsdale rents actually dropped about 2 percent in October), but also because of its opportunities. The mid-size city came in at No. 1 on Wallethub’s list for the best places to find a job at the beginning of 2020. 

Boise, Idaho

Although Boise is the only city with rising rents on this list (per Zumper’s data, it’s risen about 7 percent in 2020), it’s easy to see why renters are coming to this picturesque little Western city in droves. And it’s quite literally droves—Idaho itself saw 194 percent more people moving into the state than out this year, and Boise has been one of the fastest-growing cities in the country in the past few years. 

So, what’s so special about this spot with a population of about 200,000? Namely it’s access to tech jobs in its own miniature version of Silicon Valley, and its proximity to unbelievable nature. I heard a rumor that a hike in Boise National Forest can make you forget all about the news cycle. 

Credit: Trucker from Pittsburgh/Shutterstock.com

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Gritty, old, sports-crazed, and with beautiful architecture, Pittsburgh is as charming as they come in the East—and all for a pretty good price too, with Zumper reporting that already affordable rents have dropped about 7 percent in the last year. 

Beyond the rent prices, Pittsburgh is a prime area career-wise, as it was named No. 10 on Wallethub’s list of best places to find a job. One of its main industries is healthcare—an industry that is growing for obvious reasons. Whatever the reason you may have for moving to Pittsburgh, you may want to do it soon. 

Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Beyond the astoundingly inexpensive rent (which dropped almost 5 percent in the month of October alone, per Zumper’s latest numbers), Winston-Salem is a charming and highly educated mid-sized city that’s located in the beautiful Piedmont Triad Region in North Carolina. Winston-Salem is home to five large universities, including Wake Forest, Salem College, Carolina University, Winston-Salem University, and the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. 

If you long to stroll through a leafy campus the rest of your career, Winston-Salem might be the place you want to start (or continue) your career. 

Plano, Texas

Plano is ‘burby, sure, but in sprawling Dallas-Fort Worth, each individual suburb has its own distinct Texas-sized personality and population—and Plano is no different. If you’re a fan of shopping (The Shops at Legacy are legendary) or eating (Lockhart Smokehouse may as well be a religion), you might want to hang your cowboy hat in a Plano apartment. 

Plano is not just a good place for barbecue, it’s also where many major corporations have offices such as Bank of America, Capital One, Harley-Davidson Finance, and Blue Cross Blue Shield, so the job prospects for renters look pretty good. And even though there are a lot of big jobs in this mid-sized Texas city, the rent is affordable and has recently decreased 5.8 percent according to Zumper. 

Salt Lake City, Utah

The stunning views of the white-capped Wasatch Mountains, and yes, the natural beauty and spectacle of the Great Salt Lake are just a couple of perks of living in Salt Lake City. But for renters, the biggest benefits of living here are the inexpensive rent prices (which actually decreased this year about 9 percent according to Zumper’s data) coupled with the opportunity to find work in a city that ranked No. 25 on Wallethub’s list of best cities to find a job. 

Salt Lake City, like Boise, is another city poised to be one of the next great Silicon Valleys, with ample opportunity for tech jobs at companies like Overstock.com, ClearLink, and eBay. And you can take a break from your busy coding schedule by hitting the nearby slopes in Alta or Park City on the weekends. 

Madison, Wisconsin 

Even if you didn’t attend the University of Wisconsin for undergrad, it’s easy to see why Madison is loved by many—including savvy renters who appreciate its bargain-worthy rent prices, which fell an even further 5.8 percent this year according to Zumper.

Midwest to its core, Madison is a hardcore sports town (if you’re not a Badgers fan, you might as well jump on the bandwagon now), but it also boasts having more bicycles than cars, with access to over 200 miles of biking and hiking trails, as well as over 260 parks.