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Price-to-Rent Ratio: Which U.S. Cities Are Better for Renting or Buying a Home? (2023 Data)

rent vs buy price to rent ratio image depicting person holding two buildings which represent an apartment for renting and a home for buying

🏠 Home Buying Still Out of Reach for Many 🏠
It is cheaper to rent than buy in 45 of the 50 most populous U.S. cities. San Jose, California, is the most expensive city for buying a home, whereas Pittsburgh is the most affordable.

The 50 Most Populous Cities, Ranked by Price-to-Rent Ratio | Average Rent vs. Mortgage Payment | Best Cities for Buying | Best Cities for Renting | Is Home Price Growth Outpacing Rent Growth? | Months of Average Rent Needed to Buy a Home by Metro | Rent vs. Buy Calculator | FAQ

The U.S. housing market has experienced a year-over-year decline in home sales as home prices continue to outpace inflation. This trend has led to an affordable housing crisis that is similar to what’s happening around the world in Portugal, the Netherlands, and countless other countries. 

Many Americans have chosen to rent while saving to buy a home, which is still considered part of the “American dream” that is promised to our youth. However, with the average home price increasing 70% more than average rent prices across the U.S. since 2016, it begs the question: Is owning a home still attainable for renters? 

This study aims to identify the cities where it’s most affordable to make the jump from renting to buying a home. Specifically, we highlight the cities where it is more financially sound to purchase a home and where renting is the better option.

We analyzed the 50 most populous U.S. metros based on their price-to-rent ratios. The price-to-rent ratio is calculated by dividing the median home price by the median annual rent. A price-to-rent ratio of 15 or less means it’s better to buy. A price-to-rent ratio of 21 or more means it’s better to rent.

Our data comes from Zillow, the Federal Reserve, the U.S. Census Bureau, the Federal Housing Financing Agency,, Redfin, and Zumper. Typical rent and home prices are based on the median price in the U.S.

Key Rent vs. Buy Statistics 🔑

  • Typical U.S. home prices have increased 70% more than typical rent prices since 2016. Jump to section 👇
  • It is cheaper to rent than buy in 45 of the 50 most populous U.S. cities based on monthly rent and mortgage payment comparisons.👇
  • The city with the highest price-to-rent ratio is San Jose, California (38), while the lowest is Pittsburgh (12).👇
  • San Jose has the highest rent prices ($3,181), while Milwaukee has the lowest ($1,214).👇  
  • San Jose has the highest home prices ($1,431,676), while Pittsburgh has the lowest ($188,418).👇 
  • Rent prices are within 20% of mortgage payments in 22 cities in our study.👇
  • Nationally, the average for monthly mortgage payments is $174 more than the average rent payment in the U.S — it’s $872 more in major metros.👇
  • You can save an average of $592 renting per month rather than owning a home in New York City.👇
  • On the other hand, you can save an average of $107 per month owning a home rather than renting in New Orleans.👇
  • Nationally, it would take 214.7 months of rent to save up for the typical home purchase price — almost 18 years’ worth of rent.👇

The 50 Most Populous Metros, Ranked by Price-to-Rent Ratio

#City2023 Price-to-Rent Ratio*2023 Typical Monthly Rent Price2023 Typical Home Value2016 Typical Monthly Rent Price2016 Typical Home Value
Major Metro
1Pittsburgh, PA12$1,333$188,419$1,019$122,402
2New Orleans, LA12$1,594$227,190$1,261$168,831
3Chicago, IL12$1,874$279,202$1,468$188,180
4Cleveland, OH12$1,340$200,015$960$121,697
5Memphis, TN13$1,489$223,386$956$116,573
6Miami, FL13$2,767$444,989$1,663$220,578
7Detroit, MI14$1,370$223,022$930$125,547
8Oklahoma City, OK14$1,306$217,508$990$133,316
9St. Louis, MO14$1,309$221,941$951$140,387
10Tampa, FL14$2,090$359,669$1,174$165,096
11Cincinnati, OH15$1,435$250,941$942$144,068
12Birmingham, AL15$1,305$230,845$945$135,025
13Philadelphia, PA15$1,794$318,245$1,335$199,692
14Indianapolis, IN15$1,457$258,824$960$135,077
15Houston, TX15$1,640$298,164$1,304$184,858
16New York, NY15$3,068$559,117$2,457$358,569
17Louisville, KY15$1,275$235,497$868$141,978
18Atlanta, GA15$1,930$357,947$1,132$174,846
19Orlando, FL16$2,011$378,390$1,213$189,854
20Buffalo, NY16$1,214$229,955$828$135,782
21Hartford, CT16$1,614$306,316$1,201$218,964
22Virginia Beach, VA16$1,628$312,653$1,156$215,438
23San Antonio, TX16$1,487$286,897$1,074$165,406
24Columbus, OH16$1,463$283,924$987$157,576
25Baltimore, MD16$1,741$342,658$1,399$245,778
26Jacksonville, FL17$1,750$350,862$1,076$168,867
27Kansas City, MO17$1,359$273,315$926$151,427
28Charlotte, NC17$1,763$355,551$1,102$172,124
29Dallas, TX17$1,776$365,604$1,195$196,886
30Boston, MA17$2,949$608,413$2,246$384,631
31Richmond, VA18$1,563$332,515$1,057$196,458
32Minneapolis, MN18$1,609$349,879$1,223$222,779
33Riverside, CA18$2,490$546,495$1,495$296,548
34Providence, RI18$1,897$417,548$1,191$245,606
35Nashville, TN19$1,868$417,731$1,230$200,179
36Las Vegas, NV19$1,789$400,804$1,080$215,764
37Phoenix, AZ19$1,863$434,447$1,033$223,469
38Milwaukee, WI19$1,214$283,175$933$182,521
39Washington, DC20$2,182$523,094$1,785$371,398
40Raleigh, NC20$1,713$418,058$1,152$226,277
41Sacramento, CA21$2,227$552,756$1,425$332,373
42Austin, TX22$1,811$484,644$1,262$270,018
43San Diego, CA24$2,950$835,466$1,859$488,684
44Portland, OR24$1,861$528,379$1,311$321,243
45Denver, CO25$1,950$573,571$1,409$344,412
46Los Angeles, CA25$2,905$871,775$2,024$502,651
47Salt Lake City, UT25$1,723$520,842$1,087$269,415
48Seattle, WA26$2,170$689,871$1,511$374,462
49San Francisco, CA30$3,076$1,094,639$2,550$716,477
50San Jose, CA38$3,181$1,431,676$2,692$889,027
*Price-to-rent ratio is calculated by dividing the median home price by the median annual rent. A price-to-rent ratio of 15 or less means it’s better to buy. A price-to-rent ratio of 21 or more means it’s better to rent.

It is cheaper to rent than buy in 45 of the 50 most populous U.S. cities based on the price differences between annual rent and monthly mortgage payments. However, there are some pretty stark differences between major metros in terms of rent and home prices.

For example, San Jose, California, has the highest rent prices ($3,181), while Milwaukee has the lowest ($1,214).  San Jose also has the highest home prices ($1,431,676), while Pittsburgh has the lowest ($188,419).

Given that both rent and home prices around the country are high, Americans should look at price-to-rent ratios to determine whether they can reasonably save to make a purchase in a certain metro.

18 Best Cities for Buying a Home

The top 18 cities for buying are all cities that have a price-to-rent ratio lower of 15 or lower, which is a good sign that renters are better off buying a home than continuing to rent long-term. 

Pittsburgh, while tied with other cities such as  New Orleans, Chicago, and Cleveland for the lowest price-to-rent ratio of 12, is the best city for buyers because it also has the lowest home prices of all cities we studied ($188,419). New York City has the highest home prices at $559,117, but given that rent is typically $3,068 a month, residents are actually better off springing for a mortgage than paying rent to a landlord.

The South has long been considered the most affordable region in the country, and based on the price-to-rent ratio, that remains true. Half of the top 18 cities for buying are located in the South: New Orleans, Memphis, Miami, Oklahoma City, Tampa, Birmingham, Houston, Louisville, and Atlanta. 

Although Miami and Tampa have had some of the highest increases in home prices in the country over the past year, they’re still better options for buying over renting. They’re also more affordable than one of the most popular cities in the country, Los Angeles, where the typical home value is $871,775, compared to $444,989 in Miami and $359,669 in Tampa.

City2023 Price-to-Rent Ratio2023 Typical Annual Rent2023 Typical Home Value
1Pittsburgh, PA12$15,994$188,419
2New Orleans, LA12$19,129$227,190
3Chicago, IL12$22,487$279,202
4Cleveland, OH12$16,080$200,015
5Memphis, TN13$17,867$223,386
6Miami, FL13$33,208$444,989
7Detroit, MI14$16,440$223,022
8Oklahoma City, OK14$15,677$217,508
9St. Louis, MO14$15,713$221,941
10Tampa, FL14$25,082$359,669
11Cincinnati, OH15$17,216$250,941
12Birmingham, AL15$15,663$230,845
13Philadelphia, PA15$21,528$318,245
14Indianapolis, IN15$17,488$258,824
15Houston, TX15$19,686$298,164
16New York, NY15$36,816$559,117
17Louisville, KY15$15, 300$235,497
18Atlanta, GA15$23,160$357,947

10 Best Cities for Renting Compared to Buying

There are 10 cities in our study with price-to-rent ratios of 21 or above, meaning it’s better to rent. San Jose has the highest price-to-rent ratio in the study at 38. Due to its exorbitant home prices — typically $1,431,676 — it’s demonstrably easier to rent in that area. 

With home prices that high, most renters might not have much of a choice. Unfortunately for renters in San Jose, rent prices are also extremely high. The typical monthly rent in the Bay Area is $3,181 — nearly 3x more than Pittsburgh’s typical monthly rent ($1,214), the lowest in the study.

It’s also useful to compare cities with high price-to-rent ratios to those that are considered “mid-range,” between 15 and 21. For example, Milwaukee has the lowest rent ($1,214) of any other city in the study, but its price-to-rent ratio of 19 places it in the middle of the pack. 

A ratio between 15 and 21 may indicate that the decision to buy or rent depends more on individual circumstances, such as long-term goals and specific housing needs that aren’t easily addressed by a simple cost analysis.

Of the cities with a price-to-rent ratio of 21 or higher, Salt Lake City has the lowest annual rent costs. In Salt Lake City, renters can expect to pay just $26,079 a year, nearly $17,500 less than they would in the most expensive city, San Jose.

City2023 Price-to-Rent Ratio2023 Typical Annual Rent2023 Typical Home Value
1San Jose, CA38$38,178$1,431,676
2San Francisco, CA30$36,918$1,094,639
3Seattle, WA26$26,039$689,871
4Denver, CO25$23,403$573,571
5Los Angeles, CA25$34,858$871,775
6Salt Lake City, UT25$20,679$520,842
7San Diego, CA24$35,398$835,466
8Portland, OR24$22,331$528,379
9Austin, TX22$21,737$484,644
10Sacramento, CA21$26,729$552,756

Typical Rent vs. Mortgage Payment by Metro

Another way to compare rent and home prices is by looking at monthly mortgage payments versus monthly rent. However, this comparison does not take into account other factors, such as the potential increase in a home’s value or additional bills beyond rent and mortgage payments. 

Interest rates are a crucial factor in determining if mortgage or rent payments are more affordable. If interest rates fall to 4% on average, mortgage payments will become cheaper than rent in 30 cities in our study. Additionally, we found that in 22 of the 50 metropolitan areas we analyzed, rent prices are within 20% of mortgage payments. This indicates that in nearly half of American cities, the decision to rent or buy is pretty tough.

The three cities with the largest differences in monthly mortgage payments and rent are all in notoriously expensive California: Los Angeles ($2,802), San Francisco ($4,089), and San Jose ($6,190). This means that in Los Angeles, renters can actually save nearly $3,000 a month instead of springing for a mortgage

In New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Cleveland, and Memphis, it’s actually cheaper month over month to pay the typical mortgage payment than rent. New Orleans has the most savings with the typical monthly mortgage payment costing $107 less than the typical rent.

Across the 50 most populous cities, it’s still cheaper to rent than buy, with renters saving an average of $872 a month compared to those making mortgage payments. Accounting for more suburban and rural areas as well, that average drops down to a $174 difference.

Typical Monthly RentTypical Monthly Mortgage Payment With 6.8% Interest*Monthly Difference
Major Metro Average$1,863$2,736$872
1New Orleans, LA$1,594$1,487-$107
2Pittsburgh, PA$1,333$1,233-$100
3Chicago, IL$1,874$1,828-$46
4Cleveland, OH$1,340$1,309-$31
5Memphis, TN$1,489$1,462-$27
6Detroit, MI$1,370$1,460$90
7Oklahoma City, OK$1,306$1,424$118
8St. Louis, MO$1,309$1,453$144
9Miami, FL$2,767$2,913$146
10Birmingham, AL$1,305$1,511$206
11Cincinnati, OH$1,435$1,643$208
12Indianapolis, IN$1,457$1,694$237
13Tampa, FL$2,090$2,354$264
14Louisville, KY$1,275$1,542$267
15Philadelphia, PA$1,794$2,083$289
16Buffalo, NY$1,214$1,505$291
17Houston, TX$1,640$1,952$311
18San Antonio, TX$1,487$1,878$391
19Hartford, CT$1,614$2,005$391
20Columbus, OH$1,463$1,859$396
21Atlanta, GA$1,930$2,343$413
22Virginia Beach, VA$1,628$2,047$419
23Kansas City, MO$1,359$1,789$430
24Orlando, FL$2,011$2,477$466
25Baltimore, MD$1,741$2,243$502
26Jacksonville, FL$1,750$2,297$547
27Charlotte, NC$1,763$2,327$564
28New York, NY$3,068$3,660$592
29Richmond, VA$1,563$2,177$614
30Dallas, TX$1,776$2,393$617
31Milwaukee, WI$1,214$1,854$640
32Minneapolis, MN$1,609$2,290$681
33Las Vegas, NV$1,789$2,624$835
34Providence, RI$1,897$2,733$836
35Nashville, TN$1,868$2,734$866
36Phoenix, AZ$1,863$2,844$981
37Raleigh, NC$1,713$2,737$1,024
38Boston, MA$2,949$3,983$1,034
39Riverside, CA$2,490$3,577$1,087
40Washington, DC$2,182$3,424$1,242
41Austin, TX$1,811$3,172$1,361
42Sacramento, CA$2,227$3,618$1,391
43Portland, OR$1,861$3,459$1,598
44Salt Lake City, UT$1,723$3,409$1,686
45Denver, CO$1,950$3,755$1,805
46Seattle, WA$2,170$4,516$2,346
47San Diego, CA$2,950$5,469$2,519
48Los Angeles, CA$2,905$5,707$2,802
49San Francisco, CA$3,076$7,165$4,089
50San Jose, CA$3,181$9,372$6,191
*Based on 30-year fixed loan.

Is Home Price Growth Outpacing Rent Price Growth? 

In every single market we studied, home price growth outpaced rent growth from January 2016 to January 2023. Nationally, home price growth has outpaced rent price growth by nearly 70% from 2016 to 2023.

However, from January 2022 to January 2023, rent growth outpaced housing price growth in half of the cities in our study. Cities such as San Francisco (-1.6% difference) and New Orleans (-0.2%) actually experienced slight decreases in home prices as their housing markets slowly deflated. At the same time, rent prices in both cities have increased slightly more than the recommended 2%, which is most affordable for renters.

Florida is home to the four cities — Miami, Jacksonville, Orlando, and Tampa — with the highest increases in home prices. 

However, the city with the highest growth in rent in the past year is Louisville, Kentucky, at 10%. This is largely due to residents from more expensive cities moving to Louisville. Ironically, this has driven up rent prices, but for economists, this is a classic case of high demand driving up prices.

Rent Growth,
2016 to 2023
Home Price Growth,
2016 to 2023
Rent Growth,
2022 to 2023
Home Price Growth,
2022 to 2023
Major Metro Average45.2%72.9%6.1%6.86%
1San Francisco, CA20.7%52.8%3.7%-1.6%
2New Orleans, LA26.5%34.6%2.7%-0.2%
3Sacramento, CA56.3%66.3%1.9%0.7%
4Portland, OR41.9%64.5%6.8%2.2%
5Salt Lake City, UT58.5%93.3%5.9%2.5%
6Denver, CO38.4%66.5%4.9%2.6%
7Seattle, WA43.7%84.2%4.4%2.9%
8San Jose, CA18.2%61%6.3%3.1%
9Minneapolis, MN31.5%57.1%4.1%3.2%
10Washington, DC22.3%40.8%4.3%3.3%
11Phoenix, AZ80.3%94.4%1.1%3.6%
12Austin, TX43.5%79.5%3.8%3.7%
13Los Angeles, CA43.5%73.4%6%3.9%
14Baltimore, MD24.5%39.4%2.6%4.3%
15Las Vegas, NV65.6%85.8%-1%4.5%
16Chicago, IL27.6%48.4%7.6%4.5%
17New York, NY24.9%55.9%8.5%4.8%
18Pittsburgh, PA30.8%53.9%6.3%5.1%
19San Diego, CA58.7%71%8.3%5.2%
20Boston, MA31.3%58.2%7.6%5.4%
21Riverside, CA66.6%84.3%4.6%6.3%
22Milwaukee, WI30.1%55.2%6.8%6.3%
23Virginia Beach, VA40.8%45.1%6.2%6.5%
24Louisville, KY46.9%65.9%10%6.5%
25Detroit, MI47.3%77.6%5.7%6.6%
26Cincinnati, OH52.3%74.2%9.9%7.8%
27St. Louis, MO37.6%58.1%7.7%7.9%
28Indianapolis, IN51.8%91.6%9.8%8.1%
29Buffalo, NY46.6%69.4%9.1%8.1%
30San Antonio, TX38.4%73.5%4.8%8.2%
31Philadelphia, PA34.3%59.4%4.9%8.4%
32Kansas City, MO46.9%80.5%9%8.6%
33Dallas, TX48.6%85.7%5.6%8.7%
34Houston, TX25.8%61.3%4.3%8.7%
35Raleigh, NC48.7%84.8%5.8%8.8%
36Providence, RI59.3%70%8.6%8.8%
37Birmingham, AL38.1%71%4.9%9.1%
38Cleveland, OH39.6%64.4%8.1%9.2%
39Atlanta, GA70.5%104.7%5.4%9.9%
40Charlotte, NC60%106.6%7.6%10%
41Memphis, TN55.8%91.6%7.2%10%
42Nashville, TN51.9%108.7%6.4%10.1%
43Columbus, OH48.2%80.2%7.1%10.3%
44Richmond, VA47.9%69.3%6.8%10.4%
45Hartford, CT34.4%39.9%6.7%10.4%
46Oklahoma City, OK31.9%63.2%5.5%11.1%
47Tampa, FL78.1%117.9%6.8%12.3%
48Orlando, FL65.8%99.3%7.5%12.5%
49Jacksonville, FL62.7%107.8%5.3%13.8%
50Miami, FL66.4%101.7%9.6%16%

Months of Typical Rent Needed to Buy a Home by Metro

By looking at the number of months of rent it would take to buy a home, renters can get a sense of how much they could be saving by owning a home instead of renting. Prospective buyers, on the other hand, can get a sense of how much they would need to save for a down payment and how much they would need to budget for monthly mortgage payments.

Pittsburgh is where it makes the most sense to buy because it only takes 141.4 months of rent to buy a home. However, that’s still 12 years.

Where does it make the least sense to buy? You guessed it — San Jose, where it takes 450 months — or nearly 38 years — of rent to buy a home.

On average for the 50 most populous metros, it takes an average of 214.7 months of rent to buy a home in the U.S. This is sobering because the average American renter probably isn’t thrilled about a home costing nearly 18 years of rent. It doesn’t get much better once we include Americans in suburbia and rural areas — the national average is still 166.3 months of rent — almost 14 years.

MetroMonths of Typical Rent to Buy a Home
Major Metro Average214.7
1Pittsburgh, PA141.4
2New Orleans, LA142.5
3Chicago, IL149
4Cleveland, OH149.3
5Memphis, TN150
6Miami, FL160.8
7Detroit, MI162.8
8Oklahoma City, OK166.5
9St. Louis, MO169.5
10Tampa, FL172.1
11Cincinnati, OH174.9
12Birmingham, AL176.9
13Philadelphia, PA177.4
14Indianapolis, IN177.6
15Houston, TX181.8
16New York, NY182.2
17Louisville, KY184.7
18Atlanta, GA185.5
19Orlando, FL188.2
20Buffalo, NY189.4
21Hartford, CT189.8
22Virginia Beach, VA192.1
23San Antonio, TX193
24Columbus, OH194.1
25Baltimore, MD196.8
26Jacksonville, FL200.5
27Kansas City, MO201.1
28Charlotte, NC201.6
29Dallas, TX205.9
30Boston, MA206.3
31Richmond, VA212.7
32Minneapolis, MN217.4
33Riverside, CA219.4
34Providence, RI220.1
35Nashville, TN223.7
36Las Vegas, NV224.1
37Phoenix, AZ233.2
38Milwaukee, WI233.4
39Washington, DC239.7
40Raleigh, NC244.1
41Sacramento, CA248.2
42Austin, TX267.6
43San Diego, CA283.2
44Portland, OR283.9
45Denver, CO294.1
46Los Angeles, CA300.1
47Salt Lake City, UT302.2
48Seattle, WA317.9
49San Francisco, CA355.8
50San Jose, CA450

Overall, there are stark contrasts in housing affordability around the country. Unfortunately, it appears that it ranges from bad to much worse. Our results show that in most major metros, it could take over a decade and a half to realistically save up for a home.

These findings are particularly significant in the context of the affordable housing crisis in the country. As housing prices continue to rise, it is becoming increasingly difficult for many Americans to afford homeownership.

To address the affordable housing crisis, policymakers can increase the supply of affordable housing, implement rent control measures, and provide financial assistance to low-income families. In the meantime, potential homebuyers should carefully consider their financial situation and explore all available options before deciding whether to rent or buy a home.

Rent vs. Buy Calculator

Analyzing the price-to-rent ratio for where you want to live is a great first step in deciding whether it’s time to buy a home or continue renting. It’s also helpful to take a closer look at your budget and ideal down payment to really visualize what your monthly mortgage payment will look like compared to renting.

This calculator takes into account a variety of factors, including typical rent, typical home prices, down payment percentage, and loan term length, with a set interest rate based on the national average. Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or looking to relocate, this calculator can provide valuable insight to aid in your decision-making process.


Data sources for this study include Zillow (Zillow Home Value Index and Zillow Observed Rent Index), the Federal Reserve, the U.S. Census Bureau, the Federal Housing Financing Agency (FHFA),, Redfin, and Zumper. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is it better to buy or rent?

It is better to buy a home if you live in an area where your typical monthly mortgage payment would be lower than the typical rent. It is better to rent if you live in an area with an expensive housing market where renters would have to save up for more than five years to afford a down payment on a typical home.

What is a price-to-rent ratio?

The price-to-rent ratio is a measure used in real estate to evaluate the relative affordability of buying versus renting a property. It is calculated by dividing the median home price by the median annual rent. A price-to-rent ratio of 15 or less means it’s better to buy. A price-to-rent ratio of 21 or more means it’s better to rent.

What is a healthy price-to-rent ratio?

The ideal or healthy price-to-rent ratio varies depending on the location and market conditions. Generally, a ratio of 15 or below is favorable for buyers, while a ratio above 21 suggests renting may be more cost-effective. However, other factors, such as duration of stay, interest rates, tax benefits, and maintenance costs, should also be considered.

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