10 Cities Where It’s Actually Cheaper to Rent Than Buy

published Mar 4, 2019
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On the fence about homeownership? There are many factors that should go into your decision to rent or buy property—and not all of them are purely financial. Perhaps you’re not sure if you’re going to stay in your current city long-term. And, hey, it’s pretty nice to be able to call your landlord when something needs fixing.

But for many, the ultimate decision comes down to dollars and cents. Whether it’s more affordable to rent or buy depends a lot on where you choose to live. Thankfully, you don’t have to calculate this decision yourself: Online loan marketplace LendingTree compared monthly rent prices and mortgage costs for homes in the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the United States… and the results may surprise you.

Three cities where median rents are cheapest compared to median mortgages are Louisville, Kentucky; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Rents are, on average, about $310 less than mortgages in these areas.

Rounding out the top 10 cities where you’ll save by renting are the following metro markets:

4. Boston, Massachusetts

$1,417 median rent vs. $1,700 median mortgage

5. San Francisco, California

$1,856 median rent vs. $2,130 median mortgage

6. New York, New York

$1,489 median rent vs. $1,738 median mortgage

7. Providence, Rhode Island

$1,106 median rent vs. $1,242 median mortgage

8. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

$1,159 median rent vs. $1,367 median mortgage

9. Raleigh, North Carolina

$1,200 median rent vs. $1,383 median mortgage

10 Chicago, Illinois

$1,180 median rent vs. $1,362 median mortgage

On the other end of the spectrum, high rents make buying the cheaper option in Miami ($1,477 median rent vs. $1,125 median mortgage); Orlando ($1,263 vs. $1,036); and Virginia Beach ($1,318 vs. $1,163).

But all homes aren’t created equal. The study concludes that the rent vs. buy comparison largely depends upon size. When it comes to average-sized houses, buying is usually the better deal. But when you look at the largest and smallest homes, renting often works in your favor.

For example, if you’re looking at a loft or a studio, those are cheaper to rent rather than buy in 39 of the cities analyzed. However, if you need a large house with five or more bedrooms, that’s going to be cheaper to rent than buy in all but seven of the largest metro markets.

To see the complete results and where your city falls in the rent vs. buy debate, head on over to LendingTree.