Top 10 most affordable cities for renters
Nearly half of U.S. renters are burdened by their housing expenses.
That's according to a 2015 report by Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies, which showed that 46 percent of renting households are spending more than the recommended 30 percent of their annual income on housing costs.
But even as rental prices rise across the country, there are still some relatively affordable markets. Personal finance company SmartAsset set out to crunch some numbers and find the cities with the most affordable rents, said AJ Smith, vice president of content strategy.
To find the country's most affordable rents, SmartAsset used data from the 300 largest U.S. cities on ApartmentMap.com to find the average fair market price for a two-bedroom apartment in each city, said Smith. They then calculated how much a family would need to earn each year for the cost of that apartment to equal 28 percent of their income, leaving an extra 2 percent to cover utilities and other housing costs.
In addition to seeing many of last year's most affordable cities make an encore appearance on the list, SmartAsset found that prices in some of these cities actually dropped slightly, Smith said.
For example, this year's most affordable city was Provo, Utah, with an average fair market rent of $572 for a two-bedroom apartment. Last year, Provo ranked third with a rent of $641.
"It's interesting to see a place like Provo that has low unemployment, high incomes and is prosperous, but we're not seeing the rental price rise for the average person there," Smith said.
Over time, however, rent prices in Provo may rise to meet the area's rising income, she said.
Most of these affordable rents were found in midsized Midwestern cities, far from the country's more expensive coasts.
Click ahead to see which U.S. cities offer the best deals for renters.
10. Green Bay, Wisconsin
Required income: $30,043
Green Bay dropped from the fifth-place spot to number 10 this year with an average rent increase of $47, according to SmartAsset. Known for its cheese and its NFL team, this city is also known as the "Toilet Paper Capital of the World" for its paper industry and is home to several major paper manufacturers.
9. Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Required income: $29,571
This is Cedar Rapids' first year on this top 10 list. Another SmartAsset study ranked it as the nation's best city for children last year, citing high tests scores and graduation rates and low rates of children living in poverty.
8. South Bend, Indiana
Required income: $29,375
This northern Indiana city is up one spot from number nine last year, but rents in the city rose an average of $6, according to SmartAsset. South Bend is home to the University of Notre Dame, and the school brings with it a big boost for local businesses.
7. Killeen, Texas
Required income: $29,229
Killeen fell one spot from number six this year and the average rent increased by $23, according to SmartAsset. The city's largest employer is the nearby Fort Hood U.S. Army base.
6. Springfield, Missouri
Required income: $29,186
Also known as the "Queen City of the Ozarks," Springfield's many museums and historic sites make it a popular tourist destination. Springfield dropped from the number two spot to number six this year, with a $40 increase in the average rent price.
5. Toledo, Ohio
Required income: $29,143
Located on the Maumee River near Lake Erie, Toledo has a history as a manufacturing and shipping hub and is known as the "Glass City" because of its once-thriving glass industry. It jumped up two spots on this list from last year, despite a $15 increase in the average rent price.
4. Topeka, Kansas
Required income: $28,800
Topeka is new to SmartAsset's list this year. Because it's the Kansas state capital, about one-fifth of Topeka's residents are employed by the state government, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Renters looking for a reason to relocate may want to check out C.W. Porubsky's Deli and Tavern which, according to Travel and Leisure, apparently has some of the nation's best chili.
3. Independence, Missouri
Required income: $28,757
Independence moved up one spot to number three on this year's list even as its average rent price went up by $17. Once a starting point for pioneers headed west, the city is home to a number of historic landmarks and museums, including the National Frontier Trails Museum, United Nations Peace Plaza and President Harry S. Truman's house.
2. Lawton, Oklahoma
Required income: $25,457
Lawton fell from the top spot to number two this year, even as the average rent price fell $2, according to SmartAsset's study. The city is home to Cameron University and, like Killeen, Texas, is also a military town serving the nearby Fort Sill Army base.
1. Provo, Utah
Monthly Rent: $572
Required income: $24,514
Provo jumped from number three to number one this year, with a $69 decrease in the average fair market rent price. According to SmartAsset's analysis, the median income for the city is $42,113, far higher than the amount required to reasonably afford a two-bedroom apartment in the city.
SmartAsset also listed Provo as one of the best cities for working parents in a report released earlier this year.