US cities where renters get the most space for their money

  • Johnstown, Pennsylvania is the city with the cheapest average rent per square foot
  • Cities in Pennsylvania and Illinois make up the top four cities for rent-to-space ratio
  • Cities in New York, Indiana, and Maryland also make the top ten

A new study has revealed the US cities in which rent pays for the most physical space.

The research by New Jersey Real Estate Network analyzed data regarding monthly prices and square footage of rental listings in metropolitan areas with at least 1,000 listings to establish the cities where renters get the most room for their money.

Johnstown, in Cambria County, Pennsylvania ranks as the best city for renters seeking accommodation at an affordable rate. Rent per square foot (/²ft) here sits at $0.65 per month. This is the cheapest nationwide at 63% below the average rate of $1.78/²ft a month. For perspective, the cities of Milwaukee WI, Pueblo CO, and Tallahassee FL, constitute approximately average in this metric with rent prices in the $1.78/²ft per month region.

The city of Decatur, Illinois comes in as the second cheapest city for space-seeking renters. Here rent sits at an average of $0.69/²ft, 61% below the nationwide average. Current rental listings in Decatur average a size of 1,177²ft, and the average monthly rent price is approximately $816.60.

In third Pottsville, Pennsylvania boasts the third-best rent-to-space ratio, rent coming in at an average of $0.76/²ft. This is 57% below the nationwide average. Current rental listings in Pottsville average approximately 1,000²ft, making for an average total monthly rent price of $760.

The fourth most favorable rent-to-space figure comes from Carbondale, Illinois, where rent/²ft costs $0.79. With current listings averaging square footage of approximately 930, the average monthly rent here is $734.

This is followed by the cities of Ogdensburg NY, Peoria IL, Muncie IN, and Altoona PA, in fifth, sixth,seventh, and eighth respectively. All of these cities boast rent prices /²ft averaging between $0.86 and $0.87 per month.

In the penultimate top-ten spot is the city of Cumberland, Maryland where rent equates to $0.89/²ft per month, and the final spot is occupied by Terre Haute, Indiana with an average rent of $0.892/²ft.

US cities with the cheapest rent per square foot:

Rank Metropolitan Area Monthly price of rent per square foot ($)
1 Johnstown, PA $0.65
2 Decatur, IL $0.69
3 Pottsville, PA $0.76
4 Carbondale, IL $0.78
5 Ogdensburg, NY $0.86
6 Peoria, IL $0.865
7 Muncie, IN $0.867
8 Altoona, PA $0.87
9 Cumberland, MD $0.89
10 Terre Haute, IN $0.892


A spokesperson from New Jersey Real Estate Network spoke on the findings: “In an increasingly expensive rental market it is interesting to uncover the cities in which renters can find the best value in terms of spacious accommodation.”

“There is also a clear trend in this data suggesting that renters in the east of the country generally get more room for their money. This top ten of cheapest rent per square foot is occupied solely by eastern cities while conversely, the most expensive cities per square foot are almost solely west coast, mountain state, and Hawaiian, with the one east coast exception of Key West in Florida.”

New Jersey Real Estate Network is a locally-owned guide to real estate in New Jersey founded by Robert Dekanski.


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