Here’s how many square feet you can afford to rent on a median income in these popular US cities

You may make the big bucks in the big city, but that doesn't necessarily mean your pad is going to reflect that.

When it comes to finding the perfect spacious apartment, you have to take into account both your location and annual salary. And in some cities, such as New York City, Boston or Los Angeles, you may just have to accept that you'll always feel a little cramped.

In order to give renters a better idea of what kind of spaces they can actually afford, real estate website RENTCafé teamed up with commercial real estate research platform Yardi Matrix to analyze 100 of the most populous cities in the U.S.

"We looked at the median monthly renter household income from the U.S. Census Bureau and the average rent from Yardi Matrix," RENTCafé explained in a blog post, adding the site adjusted inflation to reflect 2019 values. "Based on the median monthly income in each city, [we show you] the maximum square feet you can get if you were to spend no more than 30% of your income on rent."

The real estate site then displayed the U.S. cities in an interactive infographic that shows which locations give you the most bang for your buck.

Per the data, Gilbert, Arizona, came out on top with 1,174 square feet and Brooklyn, New York, came in dead last — with Manhattan not too far behind — at just 265 square feet based on a median income. Boston was just one square foot above (266) Brooklyn.

Plano, Texas, and Virginia Beach, Virginia, were also touted as desirable places to live if you want decent space for your dollars. Each offer around 1,100 square feet for your median salary.

Overall, RENTCafé said it found the major metropolitan cities that boast about having the best job opportunities typically offer the smallest spaces.


"In Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Boston, if you were to limit your spending to 30% of your income on rent, you’d have to live in less than 300 square feet of space. Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, you could rent 333 square feet," RENTCafé explained.

Of the 100 U.S. cities examined, RENTCafé found only 14 offered a "comfortable life while living within your means."

  1. Gilbert, Arizona
  2. Plano, Texas
  3. Wichita, Kansas
  4. Tulsa, Oklahoma
  5. Chandler, Arizona
  6. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  7. Virginia Beach, Virginia
  8. North Las Vegas, Nevada
  9. Irving, Texas
  10. Paradise, Nevada
  11. Arlington, Virginia
  12. Fremont, California
  13. Henderson, Nevada
  14. Bakersfield, California

It's perhaps even more daunting to consider what you'd get when buying a home. According to 2018 research conducted by Freddie Mac, 78 percent of renters believe it's more affordable to continue renting than to own a property.