The 25 Least Affordable Places to Rent in the U.S.

LA Miami Florida opener
This is the least affordable place to rent in the U.S. right now. Getty/Sean Pavone

Renting a home or apartment has become harder to afford in more than half of the metropolitan areas across the country, according to new data from Zillow. Out of 94 locations tracked by the online real estate marketplace, 50 cities have seen the share of household income needed to pay for a typical rental rise since last March while only 44 places have become more affordable.

That's true even though rents have flatlined or dropped since the start of the COVID crisis in many of the most expensive cities in the U.S. as apartment dwellers fled crowds and cramped living quarters to seek more spacious living situations outside of urban areas, which in turn drove down demand and prices. Rents, for example, are down nearly 10 percent in New York City since last March, 9 percent in San Francisco, more than 8 percent in San Jose and 6 percent in Boston and Seattle.

Yet in about a quarter of metro areas, even after taking into account COVID price drops, rent eats up almost a third of a typical resident's pay—and, often, more in higher-priced neighborhoods.

What's fueling the squeeze? In many places where rents have fallen but affordability has gotten tougher, incomes may have dropped more than lease prices due to layoffs and reduced work hours during the pandemic. Then too, rents rose over the past year in a number of places, tightening affordability—especially in smaller places sporting milder climates, lots of outdoor spaces and a lower cost of living than the biggest cities as they attracted new residents from more expensive or cramped locales. That was the case, for example, in the metro areas around Colorado Springs, Colorado and Tampa, Florida.

Thinking about making a move? Renter, beware: Here are the 25 least affordable places to lease a home or apartment in the U.S. right now (Find the 25 most affordable here.)

LA Hartford Connecticut
Connecticut state capitol building in Hartford, Connecticut. Sean Pavone/Getty

25. Hartford, Connecticut

Share of household income spent on rent: 30.3%
One-year change in affordability: 2.4%
One-bedroom median rent: $1,380
Two-bedroom median rent: $1,558
One-year change in rent prices: 5.4%

Connecticut's state capital, founded in 1635, is one of the oldest cities in the U.S. and for decades following the Civil War, it was also one of the richest. That isn't true today, but the city does have several historical landmarks of note, such as the country's oldest public art museum the Wadsworth Atheneum, the oldest publicly-funded park and the Mark Twain House, where the famous author wrote many of his most prominent books.

LA Chicago Illinois
Boats traveling on the Chicago River through downtown Chicago, Illinois. Melpomenem/Getty

23. Chicago, Illinois

Share of household income spent on rent: 30.7%
One-year change in affordability: 2.4%
One-bedroom median rent: $1,638
Two-bedroom median rent: $1,835
One-year change in rent prices: -3.5%

The third biggest city in the nation, Chicago is an international center for dozens of industries including telecommunications and transportation, in addition to being the nation's railroad hub. Several major Fortune 500 companies—including Allstate, Boeing, Caterpillar, Kraft Heinz, McDonald's, United Airlines Holdings and Walgreens—operate headquarters here. It's home to many well-known attractions too, such as Millennium Park, Navy Pier, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Willis (Sears) Tower, the Museum of Science and Industry and Lincoln Park Zoo.

LA Bakersfield California
The downtown area of Bakersfield, California. Chris Boswell/Getty

23. Bakersfield, California

Share of household income spent on rent: 30.7%
One-year change in affordability: -0.6%
One-bedroom median rent: $890
Two-bedroom median rent: $1,110
One-year change in rent prices: 8.4%

Located in the San Joaquin Valley and Central Valley region of California, Bakersfield is the center for two huge industries within the state: agriculture and energy production. The city is also well-known as the birthplace of a specific country music genre known as the Bakersfield sound, heavily influenced by rock 'n roll and featuring electric instrumentation and a defined backbeat.

LA Fresno Califrornia
Downtown Fresno, California's skyline. StellaMc/Getty

22. Fresno, California

Share of household income spent on rent: 30.9%
One-year change in affordability: 1.7%
One-bedroom median rent: $1,120
Two-bedroom median rent: $1,330
One-year change in rent prices: 7.3%

Situated in the center of California's San Joaquin Valley, Fresno is another agricultural hub. It offers proximity to many of the country's best parks as well. Yosemite National Park sits about 60 miles to the north, Kings Canyon National Park is 60 miles to the east and Sequoia National Park lies 75 miles to the southeast.

LA Charleston South Carolina
The French Quarter in Charleston, South Carolina. Sean Pavone/Getty

21. Charleston, South Carolina

Share of household income spent on rent: 31.1%
One-year change in affordability: 3.4%
One-bedroom median rent: $1,297
Two-bedroom median rent: $1,473
One-year change in rent prices: 3.3%

South Carolina's largest city remains a favorite of travelers, regularly taking the top spot in rankings of destinations by national media outlets. But residents likely appreciate this Lowcountry spot's food and art scene even more. The city remains a busy port town at its core, with multiple shipping terminals making it the fourth-largest container seaport on the East Coast. Recently it has become a magnet for information technology businesses as well.

LA Denver Colorado
Aerial view of City Park and the Denver, Colorado skyline with the Rocky Mountains in the background. RoschetzkyIstockPhoto/Getty

19. Denver, Colorado

Share of household income spent on rent: 31.2%
One-year change in affordability: -0.3%
One-bedroom median rent: $1,477
Two-bedroom median rent: $1,811
One-year change in rent prices: -0.4%

Colorado's capital and largest city sits near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and has, since the 1990s, morphed into a tech industry hub, attracting a wide mix of people from outdoor enthusiasts to legal marijuana upstarts. The Mile High City offers residents districts transformed from manufacturing centers to areas full of new restaurants, breweries and distilleries and museums as well as close proximity to nature, like the music venue Red Rocks—the only naturally occurring amphitheater in the world with perfect acoustics.

LA Colorado Springs Colorado
Aerial view of Colorado Springs, Colorado at dusk. Jacob Boomsma/Getty

19. Colorado Springs, Colorado

Share of household income spent on rent: 31.2%
One-year change in affordability: 6%
One-bedroom median rent: $1,341
Two-bedroom median rent: $1,583
One-year change in rent prices: 7.3%

Located just 60 miles south of Denver, Colorado Springs is definitely a spot for the sporty. Sitting near the base of Pikes Peak and the eastern edge of the Southern Rocky Mountains, it gives outdoor lovers plenty to explore. It also provides ample work along the lines of their passion, as it is home to 24 national sports governing bodies, including the United States Olympic Committee and the United States Olympic Training Center.

LA New York City
The Brooklyn Bridge stands in front of New York City's many skyscrapers in the Financial District. Dibrova/Getty

18. New York, New York

Share of household income spent on rent: 31.4%
One-year change in affordability: 0.7%
One-bedroom median rent: $2,264
Two-bedroom median rent: $2,641
One-year change in rent prices: -9.8%

The nation's biggest city crams a whopping 8 million people into an area only 300 square miles large so it's not surprising space is at a premium here, especially if you want to be in the borough of Manhattan. But living in New York gives you access to the heart of the world's finance industry, as it houses the two largest stock exchanges in the world, top-of-the-line theater and entertainment, and endless shops and restaurants. Plus, you can claim Lady Liberty as your neighbor.

LA Tampa Florida
The skyline of downtown Tampa, Florida. Sean Pavone/Getty

17. Tampa, Florida

Share of household income spent on rent: 31.7%
One-year change in affordability: 0.2%
One-bedroom median rent: $1,341
Two-bedroom median rent: $1,576
One-year change in rent prices: 7%

Florida's third largest city, Tampa, hugs the Gulf of Mexico, offering residents that famed sunny weather and clear blue ocean water without sacrificing big-time amenities. Its port is the largest in the state. Its downtown features a riverwalk running along the Hillsborough River and it is home to several art museums, such as the Glazer Children's Museum and the Tampa Museum of Art.

Melbourne, Florida
The beach in Melbourne, Florida. RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP via Getty Images)

16. Melbourne, Florida

Share of household income spent on rent: 31.9%
One-year change in affordability: 4.8%
One-bedroom median rent: $1,242
Two-bedroom median rent: $1,409
One-year change in rent prices: 4.7%

Located about 70 miles southeast of Orlando, Melbourne sits on Florida's Atlantic coastline facing the Indian River. The city has its own international airport and is powered by a mix of defense and technology companies. The Brevard Zoo, located within its boundaries, also offers residents the unique chance to kayak through some animal exhibits.

LA Las Vegas Nevada
The Vegas Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada at night in 2016. F11photo/Getty

15. Las Vegas, Nevada

Share of household income spent on rent: 32.4%
One-year change in affordability: 9.9%
One-bedroom median rent: $1,216
Two-bedroom median rent: $1,417
One-year change in rent prices: 7.3%

The internationally renowned party and gambling city ranks among the most visited tourist destinations in the U.S. and comes up in the top three as a business convention destination. But Sin City isn't just about hospitality and adult entertainment. The city has been pushing to revitalize its less touristy parts, with the Smith Center for the Performing Arts, the DISCOVERY Children's Museum and a new City Hall complex to show for it.

LA Boston Massachusetts
Boston, Massachusetts skyline as seen from over Quincy Market. Sean Pavone/Getty

14. Boston, Massachusetts

Share of household income spent on rent: 32.6%
One-year change in affordability: -0.9%
One-bedroom median rent: $2,152
Two-bedroom median rent: $2,641
One-year change in rent prices: -6.1%

New England's biggest city is also one of the oldest in the U.S., hosting many key events of the American Revolution, including the Boston Tea Party and the Battle of Bunker Hill. Nowadays, Boston is a hub of scientific research with many top-tier colleges and universities such as Harvard and MIT within its boundaries. All those students and fresh ideas are also likely why it's a leader in innovation with almost 5,000 startups calling it home.

LA Sacramento California
Aerial view of Sacramento, California. Brandon Williams/Getty

13. Sacramento, California

Share of household income spent on rent: 33%
One-year change in affordability: 4.9%
One-bedroom median rent: $1,717
Two-bedroom median rent: $2,023
One-year change in rent prices: 7%

California's capital city, Sacramento is known as a key financial center on the West Coast and the home of major higher education institutions including California State University, Sacramento and University of California, Davis. Attractions like the California Museum, the Crocker Art Museum, the California State Railroad Museum and the Old Sacramento State Historic Park can also be found within its city limits.

LA Honolulu Hawaii
Waikiki Beach and the Diamond Head Crater in Honolulu, Hawaii. Okimo/Getty

12. Honolulu, Hawaii

Share of household income spent on rent: 33.2%
One-year change in affordability: -0.4%
One-bedroom median rent: $1,775
Two-bedroom median rent: $2,314
One-year change in rent prices: 4.6%

Island living is never cheap and Hawaii's capital city is no exception. Its tropical climate, beautiful beaches and diverse scenery all make it a much sought after living destination. But nature isn't the city's only strength. Honolulu serves as a major business hub for the state and Oceania.

LA Los Angeles California
View of the Los Angeles, California skyline from Echo Park. Abstractnative/Getty

11. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, California

Share of household income spent on rent: 33.4%
One-year change in affordability: -1%
One-bedroom median rent: $2,190
Two-bedroom median rent: $2,734
One-year change in rent prices: -0.7%

California's largest city is home to about four million people, most notably Hollywood actors and actresses, as it anchors the country's entertainment industry. But the city is more than just movies. With the Pacific ocean, mountains and deserts all within short distance, it offers something for all kinds of outdoor activity lovers. And its container port is the busiest in the Americas.

LA New Orleans Louisiana
Bourbon Street in New Orleans, Louisiana, at twilight. Sean Pavone/Getty

10. New Orleans, Louisiana

Share of household income spent on rent: 33.5%
One-year change in affordability: 6.6%
One-bedroom median rent: $1,224
Two-bedroom median rent: $1,393
One-year change in rent prices: 4.4%

Known for its jazz music, French-Creole cooking and massive Mardi Gras festivities, Louisiana's largest city is more than just the historic French Quarter or its Bourbon Street nightlife. It is also one of the world's busiest ports, handles much of the country's oil refining and petrochemical production, acts as a regional hub for the healthcare industry, and houses 11 colleges and universities, including Tulane University.

LA Baton Rouge Louisiana
State Capitol Park in Baton Rouge Louisiana, Felix Mizioznikov/Getty

9. Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Share of household income spent on rent: 33.6%
One-year change in affordability: 8.3%
One-bedroom median rent: $969
Two-bedroom median rent: $1,062
One-year change in rent prices: 3.8%

Louisiana's capital city may be best known as the home of Louisiana State University, but Baton Rouge is also a major player in the petrochemical and medical fields and hosts a burgeoning motion picture industry, labeled Hollywood South. Its port also sees a healthy amount of traffic, as the tenth largest in the country.

LA Fort Myers Florida
View of downtown Fort Myers, Florida with the yacht basin in the foreground. Fotoguy22/Getty

8. Fort Myers, Florida

Share of household income spent on rent: 33.7%
One-year change in affordability: 4.3%
One-bedroom median rent: $1,296
Two-bedroom median rent: $1,590
One-year change in rent prices: 5.4%

Located on Florida's Southwest Coast about 40 miles north of Naples, Fort Myers faces the Caloosahatchee River and is within a short drive of the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Its major attractions, beyond its proximity to the beach, are the winter estates of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford.

LA Orlando Florida
Downtown Orlando, Florida skyline at sunset. Bobby Uzda/Getty

7. Orlando, Florida

Share of household income spent on rent: 34%
One-year change in affordability: 1.2%
One-bedroom median rent: $1,310
Two-bedroom median rent: $1,530
One-year change in rent prices: 2%

One of the biggest global tourist destinations in the world thanks to its plethora of theme parks, including Disney World and Universal Studios, Orlando has been rapidly expanding since the 1970s to cater to those hospitality and tourism industry needs. But residents are more likely to be found enjoying the city's warm weather at Lake Eola Park, visiting the Orlando Museum of Art and Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, or dancing and drinking Downtown. The city is also home to the nation's largest university by enrollment: the University of Central Florida.

LA Stamford Connecticut
View of downtown Stamford, Connecticut. Stockphoto52/Getty

6. Stamford, Connecticut

Share of household income spent on rent: 34.3%
One-year change in affordability: 11.2%
One-bedroom median rent: $2,096
Two-bedroom median rent: $2,779
One-year change in rent prices: 5.6%

Located only about 40 miles northwest of New York City, Stamford houses numerous Fortune 500 companies and large corporations within its boundaries including: Charter Communications, Synchrony Financial, United Rentals, Conair, WWE, NBC Sports Group and Vineyard Vines. It is also home to UConn Stamford and Norwalk Community College.

LA Springfield Massachusetts
Springfield, Massachusetts, skyline. Sean Pavone/Getty

5. Springfield, Massachusetts

Share of household income spent on rent: 34.4%
One-year change in affordability: -1%
One-bedroom median rent: $1,050
Two-bedroom median rent: $1,166
One-year change in rent prices: 6.4%

The 25-mile distance between Springfield and Hartford, Connecticut, to the south, is known as the Knowledge Corridor because it contains over 32 universities and liberal arts colleges. In Springfield itself, you can find Springfield College, Western New England University and American International College. Outside education, the city acts as the headquarters for a wide range of companies including MassMutual Financial Group, Smith & Wesson, Merriam Webster and the American Hockey League.

LA Ventura California
Ventura, California at sunset. Mac McIntire/Getty

4. Ventura, California

Share of household income spent on rent: 35.5%
One-year change in affordability: 5.6%
One-bedroom median rent: $2,070
Two-bedroom median rent: $2,465
One-year change in rent prices: 4.8%

Located between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara along U.S. Route 101, Ventura is known as a relaxing spot where you can walk on the beach, surf or kayak. Outdoor clothing maker Patagonia has its headquarters here too.

LA San Diego California
View of San Diego, California, from across the bay. Sean Pavone/Getty

3. San Diego, California

Share of household income spent on rent: 36.2%
One-year change in affordability: 3.2%
One-bedroom median rent: $2,100
Two-bedroom median rent: $2,557
One-year change in rent prices: 4.2%

California's second largest city hugs the Mexico border and Pacific Ocean and is known for its harbor, beaches and ties to the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. But the city has recently begun to emerge as a player in the healthcare and biotechnology industries, though military and defense-related activities as well as tourism still largely power its economy. San Diego offers residents numerous attractions beyond the water, such as Balboa Park, San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld San Diego, historic sites like the Mission San Diego de Alcalá and Old Town San Diego State Historic Park and an annual Beer Week to celebrate local craft brewing.

LA Sarasota Florida
View of downtown Sarasota from the Ringling Bridge. Karolina Borkowski/Getty

2. Sarasota-North Port-Bradenton, Florida

Share of household income spent on rent: 37.2%
One-year change in affordability: 3.5%
One-bedroom median rent: $1,335
Two-bedroom median rent: $1,596
One-year change in rent prices: 6.8%

Sarasota lies north of Fort Myers along Florida's southwestern coast and is a common tourist destination thanks to its Gulf of Mexico beaches and resorts. The city is known for a post-war modern architecture style, called the Sarasota School of Architecture, as well as for being the winter headquarters of the Ringling Brothers Circus. The circus' legacy continues at The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art located within the city. And Sarasota's role as a hub of culture and arts can also be seen in its numerous musical, dance, theatre, circus and other performing arts venues as well as its annual Sarasota Film Festival.

LA Miami Florida
South Beach in Miami, Florida. ULora/Getty

1. Miami-Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Share of household income spent on rent: 38.4%
One-year change in affordability: 1.3%
One-bedroom median rent: $1,750
Two-bedroom median rent: $2,109
One-year change in rent prices: 3.3%

When Will Smith sang "I'm going to Miami," he wasn't alone. The city—Florida's biggest—welcomes millions of international visitors a year, second only to New York City. While some tourists come for its beaches, vibrant nightlife and Cuban food, many arrive to sail as PortMiami is the busiest cruise port in the world.

But the city is more than a fun spot to visit. Known as the "Capital of Latin America," Miami's population is more than 70 percent Hispanic or Latino, making it one of the largest majority-minority cities in the U.S. Its large concentrations of international banks and company headquarters make it a major finance and trade player. Miami also hosts the Calle Ocho Festival, the Florida Grand Opera, the Miami International Film Festival, Art Basel, and its own annual fashion week.

NOTES: All data provided by Zillow. Housing affordability, expressed as the percentage of typical income a household would spend on lodging costs, is as of January 2021, the most recent data available. The percentage change in affordability is from January 2020 to January 2021; a negative value indicates a spot has become easier to afford. Median cost for a one-bedroom and two-bedroom rental in each city is as of February 2021; the total price change for the entire rental market in each area is from March 2020 to February 2021. Median one-bedroom and two-bedroom costs for: Bakersfield, California, Fresno, California, and Springfield, Massachusetts, come from Zumper, as Zillow did not have those figures available.