Top 10 most affordable cities for renters

Last Updated Jul 18, 2016 10:52 AM EDT

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    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.

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    Ilyce R. Glink is an award-winning, nationally-syndicated columnist, best-selling book author and founder of Best Money Moves, an employee benefit program that helps reduce financial stress. She also owns ThinkGlink.com, where readers can find real estate and personal finance resources.