The national median rent for a one-bedroom apartment has climbed 12 percent over the past year, to a record high of $1,400 a month, according to Zumper’s March rent report. This has left renters facing a financial squeeze, especially as the desire for more space has become a priority amid the pandemic and the rise of remote work.
Working at home, however, does open less expensive real estate markets to renters. To help determine what you can expect for your money, a recent study by RentCafe examined how many square feet could be rented in the 100 largest U.S. metros for $1,500 a month — conveniently close to the national median. (For the purpose of the study, Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens were considered separate markets, and only apartments in buildings with at least 50 units were included.)
Paying $1,500 a month is a bargain in Manhattan, if you can find it. The average rent in the borough was found to be $4,269 a month in March, with an average apartment size of about 745 feet — meaning $1,500 nets you just 262 square feet. Next most expensive was Boston, where $1,500 gets you 340 square feet; in San Francisco, it’s 347 square feet. That square footage approaches the size of a small studio unit, but in these expensive cities you’ll need a roommate or two if $1,500 is your limit.
Looking to the middle of the list, you’ll find Colorado Springs, where you can rent an average of 873 square feet for $1,500 a month, and Pittsburgh, where you’ll get 868. In both areas, that’s likely to get you a one- or two-bedroom apartment.
If space is a huge priority, consider the Midwest. In Wichita, Kan., $1,500 was found to rent the most space — 1,597 square feet. Toledo, Ohio, was next, with 1,482 square feet, followed by Tulsa, Okla., with 1,447 square feet. In all of these relatively affordable cities, you’re likely to find a three- to four-bedroom unit for your $1,500.
This week’s chart shows the metropolitan markets where you can rent the most and least amount of space for $1,500 a month, according to RentCafe.