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Small, Lively Cities Considered Best Locations to Rent

According to a new report from RentCafe, an Austin suburb —Round Rock— has been named the best city for renters in 2022, as Texas reconfirms the rising appeal as a coveted place to live.

Raleigh, North Carolina came in second place, followed by small cities located mainly in the South and Southeast.

This new data comes from a new annual ranking of best cities for renters, based on proprietary data, and a mix of 17 metrics that best define a great renting experience: from the cost of living and the quality of rental housing, to the local economy and the quality of life.

best&worst-cities-for-renters-by-categoryData was analyzed for hundreds of cities across the nation, and narrowed down to 115 candidates for the best cities to live as a renter in 2022. In addition to cost of living, selection and quality of apartments available in each city was a factor, along with the quality of the neighborhoods where rentals are located, occupancy rates, opportunities for job growth, air quality, etc.

Gathered under three main categories: Cost of Living & Housing, Local Economy and Quality of Life, 2022’s best cities to live in as a renter are:

  1. Round Rock, Texas

As a small Texas city just 15 miles north of Downtown Austin, Round Rock earned the title of the nation’s best place to rent. An up-and-coming tech center and the “sports capital of Texas”, the state where renters have the most access to sports amenities, Round Rock benefits from great year-round weather and a suburban feel — much sought-after in recent years —, as well as many parks and great outdoor areas. Round Rock scores high in all the main categories of our index, the mix of which helped the city come in first place. More specifically, Round Rock ranks 13th in cost of living, 10th in terms of local economy and 12th in quality of life.

  1. Raleigh, North Carolina

The runner-up is Raleigh, NC, a city that ranks high in quality-of-life metrics, such as a high share of apartments located in top neighborhoods, while also boasting a booming job market. The city abounds in highly educated residents — more than half of them hold at least a bachelor’s degree. Raleigh also has that increasingly popular urban-suburban vibe, which allows people to enjoy the benefits of the big-city life, as well as the quiet and safety of suburbia. In 2021, Raleigh was one of the top 20 U.S. cities with the most apartment construction, thanks to a five-year high of approximately 4,800 new apartments delivered —a sign of constant development and demand that make this North Carolina city a thriving apartment scene.

  1. Conroe, Texas

Conroe, TX —located in Houston metro— is the third-best city for renters in 2022. In particular, Conroe comes in third place in terms of cost of living and housing, which makes it very appealing to renters. Here, more than 70% of apartments are high-end, ensuring a great selection of high-quality housing for apartment-dwellers.

  1. Greenville, South Carolina

Greenville, South Carolina is fourth among the top places for renters of any age. A renter-majority city (56.9%), Greenville is the second-best U.S. location in terms of cost of living among the cities analyzed, while also boasting a high share of college-educated residents.

  1. Orlando, Florida

Florida’s presence at the top of our list comes as no surprise, as its ideal weather, access to beaches, and great housing options make it the state of perpetual sunshine in every way — and an all-time favorite destination for renters. More precisely, Orlando, FL is the nation’s fifth-best city to rent in, as it benefits from an urban-suburban feel, a strong local economy, a solid apartment market and countless entertainment options.

Jacksonville, Florida is the country’s best large city for renters, also making the overall ranking as the sixth-best place among cities of all sizes. Due to its attractive cost of living —the 8th-best among all the cities analyzed— as well as great weather and plenty of entertainment options, Jacksonville is a popular hotspot for renters who are looking for that perfect combination of lively social scenes and serene outdoor areas.

As the most populous city in North Carolina, Charlotte is the 7th-best city overall and also ranks highly among large cities in terms of local economy, coming in at 19th place. Known for its many beautiful lakes, the city is the corporate headquarters of Bank of America and other financial giants. In particular, Charlotte —which is home to many young professionals and families— was the second-best large city for renters. It boasts an urban-suburban feel, ensuring that its residents get the best of both worlds: business opportunities and big-city perks, but also a tranquil and safe environment.

Austin, Texas is the third-best large city for renters —which is to be expected, given its reputation as a top tech hub and a magnet for population migration in recent years. Austin is known for its thriving local economy (the 7th-best among large cities), great weather, many parks, rivers and bike trails, as well as the apartment boom that has taken place in the past years. In fact, as many tech giants have relocated from California to Texas, Austin has registered impressive growth in apartment construction, now catering to renters better than ever before. The city also ranks 10th in the overall top of best cities for renters.

Apart from being the second-best city for renters, Raleigh is also the number one best mid-sized city in our top. Among mid-sized cities, the city comes in 9th place in terms of quality of life, making it a perfect location for renters who are looking to live a healthy, happy lifestyle and 12th in the local economy ranking.

The second-best mid-sized city for renters is Atlanta, Georgia’s most populous city and the one with the highest number of business applications, which goes to show its rising appeal as a business and economic hub. Atlanta is also known for its many urban parks and walking areas, which helped the city score the 17th position on our list with the best quality of life. Atlanta is also the 9th-best city for renters in the nation, all sizes considered.

As the economic center of Western Florida, Tampa sure is a good place to rent. Residents here enjoy great weather year-round, lots of flora and fauna, as well as an urban-suburban feel. The city also has a cost of living that is lower than the national average and scored 23rd in terms of quality of life. Tampa’s neighborhoods are generally good for families and given its third position in the top best mid-sized cities and 15th spot in the general ranking, it’s also a great place to be as a renter.

The fifth smallest city in the ranking is Charleston, SC. With one of the lowest unemployment rates (3.4%), a large number of highly educated residents, as well as a historic charm, beautiful beaches and world-renowned restaurants, it’s no wonder that Charleston is the fifth-best small city to for renters, as well as the 8th-best in general and local economy.

The city of Savannah, Georgia is the absolute best in the nation in terms of cost of living, while the local economy champion is Plano, Texas. Residents of San Francisco, California are the ones that benefit from the best quality of life, based on RentCafe’s analysis.

To read the full report, including charts and methodology, click here.

About Author: Demetria Lester

Demetria C. Lester is a reporter for DS News and MReport magazines with more than eight years of writing experience. She has served as content coordinator and copy editor for the Los Angeles Daily News and the Orange County Register, in addition to 11 other Southern California publications. A former editor-in-chief at Northlake College and staff writer at her alma mater, the University of Texas at Arlington, she has covered events such as the Byron Nelson and Pac-12 Conferences, progressing into her freelance work with the Dallas Wings and D Magazine. Currently located in Dallas, Texas, Lester is an avid jazz lover and likes to read. She can be reached at [email protected].

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