Can You Afford Rent in America's 10 Most Expensive Cities?

Couple moving into apartment


Leah Thomas
Leah Thomas866
June 21, 2024 at 4:5AM UTC

If you feel like you’re struggling to pay rent in your city, you’re not alone.

According to a recent survey by SmartAsset. the average household must make at least six figures to afford a two-bedroom apartment in America's seven largest cities. SmartAsset looked at America’s most popular places to live and ranked them based on the average cost of a two-bedroom apartment. 

The results were bleak. In order to live in the number one city on the list, San Francisco, renters need to make $188,000 per year. The average household income is just $103,801.

While the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development suggests a household should not spend more than 30% of its income on housing, financial blogger Erin Lowry told Moneyish that this is difficult for most people to achieve.

“Realistically, hopefully no more than 50% should be going towards your rent,” she said.

Of the 10 cities with the most expensive rents in America, four are located in sunny California. Read on to see who made the list, and what crazy salary they need to make to stay afloat. 

1. San Francisco

The average two-bedroom apartment in San Francisco costs almost $4,400 a month, adding up to approximately $52,600 each year. 

2. New York City

Not-so-surprisingly, New York City is the second least affordable city in the United States. In order to live comfortably, New Yorkers must make around $162,400 a year because their average 2-bedroom rent is $3,800 a month. Yikes.

But if New Yorkers are looking for more affordable options, they can find deals in Queens or Brooklyn. For Brooklyn residents, the average apartment costs $3,200. And for those who favor Queens, you can get a two-bedroom in the borough for only $2,660 on average.

3. Boston

Boston is the third most expensive city in the US. Boston residents must make $143,800 a year on average to cover living expenses. You know, including their $40,300 per year rent. But the median Bostonian household income is just $63,600.

4. San Jose

The average renter in San Jose – the second California city on the list – pays around $2,900 each month for a two-bedroom. That means San Jose residents must make at least $123,000 to live comfortably.

5. Los Angeles

LA is another Cali city with explosive housing costs. In order to afford a two-bedroom, residents must make $118,800 annually, even though the median household income in Los Angeles is only $54,400.

Rounding out the 10 American cities with the most expensive rent are Washington D.C., Chicago, Seattle, San Diego, and Denver.

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