- Small, southeastern cities are best for renting high-end apartments at a great value, ruling the top 10
- 17 of the 100 best cities for renting high-end apartments are in Georgia, 11 in the Atlanta metro
- Only 4 large cities made the top 100 best places for renting high-end apartments
More than one year into the pandemic, renters are prioritizing rent deals that promise more space and better amenities, according to a recent RENTCafé survey. And since nothing says more space and amenities galore better than a high-end apartment, we wanted to see where in the U.S. you could rent a higher-quality apartment at the greatest value: a feasible rent price, generous square footage and a coveted location.
High-end can describe a wide range of apartments — from resort-style communities to crisp high-rises with exquisite finishes to unique apartments near plenty of job opportunities, world-renowned restaurants, and entertainment options for every taste. We all dream of living in a larger place in a better location with a great view and a reasonable monthly rent. But, where can you make the most out of living large?
To discover the sweet spots of quality and price, we checked the average rent and size of high-end apartments in more than 600 cities and towns using Yardi Matrix apartment data. And, because having a wide selection is important, we also factored in the share of high-end apartments in each city, as well as how many of those apartments are in what are considered to be top locations within that city.
It turns out that, when it comes to renting high-end apartments, small cities will get you the most bang for your buck.
Looking to live large? Turn to small cities for the best high-end deals
If you’re working with a budget, but still want to live large, small cities are the way to go. With monthly prices in the low $1,000s and apartment sizes between 1,000 – 1,300 sq. ft., these cities are proof that comfort doesn’t have to come at an excessive price.
The best city for renting a high-end apartment at great value in the U.S. is Hoover, AL, the largest suburb in the Birmingham metro. Offering the best mix of quality, size, location and price, Hoover high-end apartments have an average size of 1,147 sq. ft. for less than $1,100 per month. The city is also a great choice if you like your luxury living with a side of golf and boating.
Coming in second for best value is Warner Robins, GA voted this year’s best place to live in Houston County, Georgia. Here, for around $1,000, you can live in a high-end rental of around 1,164 sq. ft. Also recognized as one of the best places to live in the country is Shawnee, KS, third in the top, which has some of the most spacious apartments on the list — 1,231 sq. ft. on average at a price of $1,173 per month.
In fourth place is history-heavy Columbus, GA, a city that can scratch your outdoorsy itch no matter your preferred adventure. River rafting, hiking, outdoor concerts and so much more await you here along with top-quality, spacious apartments at a great value.
Meanwhile, Phenix City sets itself apart with the largest apartments among our top entries, averaging 1,276 sq. ft. Located on the Georgia-Alabama border and taking fifth place in the top, this town of around 40,000 residents may surprise you with the best of both states.
In sixth place, located just 30 minutes from Warner Robins lies Macon, GA. As one of the most sought-after filming locations in the nation, the city is no stranger to luxury living. In fact, its inventory seems to accommodate crews working on movies like I, Tonya, or the upcoming Marvel blockbuster, Black Widow.
Perhaps the place that best embodies small-town charm on our list is Daphne, AL, sitting in seventh place nationally. With more than half of its apartments in the high-end category and an average space of around 1,165 sq. ft., Daphne also earns points as one of Alabama’s safest cities. Similarly, Lexington, one of the fastest-growing areas in the Midlands of South Carolina, has the widest pool of apartments to choose from, as 89% here are considered high-end.
Next is Union City, GA, one of the best bedroom communities to a major metro at a short, 25-minute drive from Atlanta. Wrapping up the Top 10 is Greer, SC, where lakes and greenery are guaranteed to offer you some pretty amazing views alongside 1,094 sq. ft. of quality living space.
Southeast offers the best high-end rental options
The United States has no shortage of upscale rentals, with high-end construction on the rise for years. However, looking at areas that offer the best deals when it comes to luxury living, some states have more to give than others.
The great state of Georgia snagged 17 of the Top 100 best locations to rent luxury apartments, including 11 in the Atlanta metro area alone. North Carolina is another state that offers an array of high-end options, with 13 of its cities making the Top 100 — 6 of which are in the Raleigh metro.
For best deals that mix luxury amenities with a good rent price, lots of space and a desirable location, look towards small, southeastern cities in Georgia, Alabama, or South Carolina. While the rankings are pretty evenly split between urban and suburban areas, smaller cities with populations less than 300,000 completely overtake the Top 10 spots for renting high-end at great value.
Notably, just a handful of large cities made the Top 100.
Only 4 large cities in the Top 100 for renting high-end at great value
When it comes to renting, nice finishes and views are not enough to make a decision. Rather, nearby access to high-quality employment, prime entertainment and shopping are key factors in defining a top location. So, although they’re outnumbered by smaller cities, some large cities can still be a great alternative for hunting down high-end apartments at a great value — and often below the $1,399 national average rent.
More precisely, looking at cities with populations greater than 300,000 that offer high-end living at great value, only Lexington, KY, Louisville, KY, Tulsa, OK and Omaha, NE cracked the Top 100. Granted, one compromise that is to be expected in large cities is space. This is confirmed by the four cities in the top of our list, where the average unit size of a high-end apartment ranges between 953 – 1,044 sq. ft.
Lexington, KY is the best large city and 30th nationally for renting high-end, with an average apartment size of 1,044 sq. ft at an average price of $1,188. Renting here puts you within proximity of the state’s flagship public university, the University of Kentucky, as well as nature sanctuaries and some of the best outdoor attractions statewide. It’s followed by Tulsa, OK, 81st nationally on our list, known for its affordability, which extends to its high-end rentals. The city’s best feature is the breath-taking nature just minutes away from downtown.
Not far behind, Omaha — Nebraska’s largest city and billionaire Warren Buffett’s home — comes in third among large cities. Sitting in 84th nationally, 35% of its units are described as high-end and are priced around $1,178 per month. It’s followed by Louisville, KY where 29% of apartments fall under the high-end category, averaging 1,030 sq. ft. for around $1,274 per month.
However, looking beyond the 100 best cities for high-end rentals revealed other large cities where upgrading can get you more bang for your buck. Here are the top 20 cities with more than 300,000 residents where high-end renters can take advantage of a reasonable monthly price, generous square footage and a desirable location:
Some large cities did not make the Top 100, yet are still convenient alternatives for renting high-end. One such example is Jacksonville, FL. With high-end units of about 1,030 sq. ft. going for $1,320 per month making up more than half of its inventory, living large in Florida’s most populous city comes with golf courses by the Atlantic and sunshine all year long.
We can’t talk affordable living without including Wichita, KS. Although apartments here are smaller (903 sq. ft.) than those of other large cities on the list, renting in Wichita puts you within close proximity of museums, art galleries, golf courses and some of the best restaurants in the area. Next up is Oklahoma City, where living large is an exciting experience that comes in at $1,099 for 926 sq. ft, on average, with more restoration projects beautifying the area and improving the quality of life.
If you don’t mind the Texas heat, El Paso and its 919 sq. ft. at $1,048 per month is another cool alternative for getting the best out of high-end living. Further north and squished between two Texas cities is Albuquerque, with 34% of its local inventory being high-end units of 938 sq. ft. at about $1,224. Living large in New Mexico’s most populous city means access to amazing cultural events, unique experiences and even high-tech research facilities. One of the largest and fastest-growing cities in the country, San Antonio, TX, comes in 10th with a cool 48% high-end apartments you can choose from at around $1,248.
As remote work policies have spread, so have preferences for more space and thoughtful amenities. If anything, this past year has taught us that we should make the most out of where we live. And, for renters eager to find their new and upgraded home, these locations are proof that living large can be within reach.
RENTCafé is a nationwide apartment search website that enables renters to easily find apartments and houses for rent throughout the United States. Apartment data was provided by our sister company, Yardi Matrix, a business development and asset management tool for brokers, sponsors, banks and equity sources underwriting investments in the multifamily, office, industrial and self-storage sectors.
High-end refers to properties classified as A+, A, A-, B+ based on Yardi Matrix’s definition and classification of the apartment market.
We analyzed cities with a population of minimum 10,000 (per U.S. Census American Community Survey 5-year estimates), at least 1,000 units and 4 properties (completed and classified as high-end) and excluded fully affordable properties. The final rankings that determine “great value” are based on weights attributed to the main metrics: average rent as of February 2021 (35%), average square footage (35%), share of high-end units within a city (15%) and share of high-end units within top locations as defined by Yardi Matrix (15%).
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