Rental Price Check: What Does $750 and $1,000 Get You in Eight Cities?

How far does your dollar stretch? We set out to check out some prices across the country and see what you can get at $750 (affordable rent for someone making $30,000) and $1,000 (for someone making $40,000) per month. It’s no surprise that prices vary from city to city, but the size of that variation might catch you off guard—it’s pretty huge. (San Francisco residents, we feel your pain.)

$950 a month in Denver listed by Zillow

$950 a month rental in Denver listed by Zillow

These results are based on current posted listings (as of April 2014). As we searched, there were a few ground rules: first, we started by searching for units priced at monthly rates of $750 and $1,000 in each city (in some cases, as you’ll see, this just wasn’t possible). Second, we looked for representative examples. So no shockingly-cheap outliers that were far below the next-cheapest unit, which raises some red flags regarding condition and other factors. (Similarly, nothing that looked seriously sketchy in the photos—cinder block prison cell bedroom in Denver, we’re looking at you.)

New York City
At the $750 level, you won’t find much in any of the boroughs–but go up just a bit and you’ll find some not-to-expensive options scattered here and there including this spacious studio in a house in Staten Island. 

An even $1,000 still won’t get you much of anything in Manhattan, but you’ll find a decent amount of selections start once you get deep into the boroughs. You might even find an apartment at this price point that isn’t even a studio (believe it), like this one a block from Von Briesen Park in Staten Island, with 800 square feet, including a large master bedroom. The trendy areas in Brooklyn will be out of reach even with a $1000 budget, but you can find places in that range within a subway commute in Queens and the Bronx.

Miami
Miami has become one of the country’s most expensive places to rent, but even at $750 per month, you’ll find a few units here and there, like this recently-renovated apartment in the Wynwood Arts District.

You won’t be living the high life in South Beach for $1,000, but that will get you a nice apartment in a brand-new Biscayne Corridor building, with central air and a washer/dryer in the unit.

Chicago
The Windy City’s apartments include many historic buildings with cozy charm. But the nice ones don’t come cheap.

In Chicago $750 is studio territory. If you’re an organized, compact-living type, that can work out just fine, and you’ll find plenty of offerings in cool historic buildings in great neighborhoods–like this one in Edgewater, with hardwood floors and a new kitchen.

Head south to Hyde Park for a charmingly walkable community with tons of history and array of one- and two-bedroom options for under $1,000, like this one, with its hardwood floors and beautifully private courtyard.

San Francisco
What will $750 get you in this famously expensive city? Nothing. And if you venture across the bay to Oakland, you’re still out of luck. Sorry.

With some digging, you may be able to find some affordably-priced outliers, but generally speaking prices start around $950, the price for this one-bedroom apartment in Eureka Valley. It does at least have some nice amenities to go with the price tag, like washer/dryer in the unit, granite countertops, and off-street parking.

Seattle
Tiny but in excellent condition, this studio apartment in Westlake is what you can get in Seattle for $750–well, $758, to be precise.

Options open up considerably when you reach the $1,000 range, with the pickings including this new one-bedroom apartment in an amenity-filled building: rooftop garden, theater, fitness center … and, oh yeah, great skyline views.

Austin
Austin has a reputation as the up-and-comer, but it’s still considerably more affordable than many of its counterparts on this list.

There are plenty of great options below $750. You won’t find many frills, but you’ll can find a perfectly nice one-bedroom unit like this one near the University of Texas at Austin campus.

For $1,000, though, there are plenty of frills available, as in this well-appointed apartment (think marble bathroom accents, modern fixtures, and a sleek, modern kitchen).

Nashville
How ‘bout an entire house? If that’s what you’re looking for, at a reasonable monthly rate, here’s the city for you.

Even below $750, there’s plenty to choose from (and, no, they’re not just shacks). Here’s one with 800 square feet of living space, on a quiet street near “all the East Nashville hotspots,” available for a mere $700 per month.

Of course, there are even more options at $1,000 per month, including this one in East Lake, with two bedrooms, and nice yard, and over 1,000 square feet of living space.

Denver
As with most of the cities off the coasts, Denver has more than a few good, affordable options for apartment-hunters.

At the $750 level, the offerings aren’t necessarily charming, but they’re certainly serviceable, like this one-bedroom unit in Cheesman Park (with a funky kitchen peninsula!).

Step up to $1,000 and a fairly typical offering is this roomy (850 square feet), recently refurbished apartment, with a beautiful kitchen, hardwood floors, and a generally cheery vibe.

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Doug Mack is a writer based in Minneapolis and the author of the travel memoir Europe on 5 Wrong Turns a Day: One Man, Eight Countries, One Vintage Travel Guide (Perigee Books/Penguin). He has lived in apartments large and small, historic and modern, in Minneapolis and Chicago. Visit his web site at www.douglasmack.net or find him on Twitter @douglasmack.

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