Rent prices are within 20% of mortgage payments in 22 of the 50 most-populous cities, leaving Americans with a tough decision to make on renting versus buying.

With the average U.S. home price increasing 70% more than average rent prices since 2016, renting could become a long-term reality for many Americans, according to new research from Home Bay, an online publication owned by Clever Real Estate that connects readers with expert real estate advice.

The report analyzed the 50 most-populous U.S. metros based on their price-to-rent ratios, calculated by dividing the median home price by the median annual rent, to identify the cities where it’s most affordable to make the jump from renting to buying a home. A ratio of 15 or lower means it’s better to buy, while 21 or higher means it’s better to rent. The national average is 18.

The city with the highest price-to-rent ratio is San Jose, California (38), while the lowest is Pittsburgh (12).

The 10 best cities to buy a home based on the price-to-rent ratio are:

  1. Pittsburgh, PA (price-to-rent ratio of 12)
  2. New Orleans, LA (12)
  3. Chicago, IL (12)
  4. Cleveland, OH (12)
  5. Memphis, TN (13)
  6. Miami, FL (13)
  7. Detroit, MI (14)
  8. Oklahoma City, OK (14)
  9. St. Louis, MO (14)
  10. Tampa, FL (14)

On the other hand, the 10 cities where renting over buying makes the most sense based on price-to-rent ratios are:

  1. San Jose, CA (38)
  2. San Francisco, CA (30)
  3. Seattle, WA (26)
  4. Salt Lake City, UT (25)
  5. Los Angeles, CA (25)
  6. Denver, CO (25)
  7. Portland, OR (24)
  8. San Diego, CA (24)
  9. Austin, TX (22)
  10. Sacramento, CA (21)

In addition to the highest price-to-rent ratio, San Jose also has the highest rent prices ($3,181) and the highest home prices ($1,431,676). In contrast, Milwaukee has the lowest rent prices ($1,214), and Pittsburgh has the lowest home prices ($188,418).

It is more affordable to rent than buy a home in 90% of the most-populous U.S. cities based on the price differences between monthly rent and mortgage payments. On average, renters save $174 a month, adding up to $2,088 per year.

In some cities, the savings renters experience are massive — in Los Angeles, renters save nearly $3,000 a month by paying rent instead of a mortgage, and in San Francisco, residents save a whopping $4,089 monthly by renting.

The study found that, nationally, it would take 166.3 months of rent – almost 14 years – to save up for the typical home purchase price. In San Jose, the number jumps to 450 months – or nearly 38 years.

Read the full report at:

About Home Bay

Home Bay is a web property of Clever Real Estate, an online platform that connects home buyers and sellers with top-rated agents at a discount rate.

Please contact Sam Huisache at with any questions or for an interview.

Sam Huisache
Data Writer
Clever Real Estate