Best Housing Markets for Renting a Duplex

Affordable options to consider around the U.S.

Row houses and American flag in Brooklyn
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When you want the space of a home without the price tag that comes with it, a duplex for rent can be a great option. Not only do duplexes offer that home-like feeling (hello, beautiful yard!), but they also mean independence from the close quarters of apartment living (goodbye, noisy next door neighbors!).

Finding a duplex for rent isn’t difficult, but figuring out how the pricing for those units stacks up to single-family homes is trickier. We’ve broken down the best (and worst) duplex markets below for when you want to rent instead of buy.

Best Cities to Rent a Duplex 

When it comes to multi-family units, there are five cities that stood out from the pack in 2018—at least in terms of affordability. Each of these metros offered a low median price per square foot and plenty of amenities for would-be residents.

  • Atlanta: At only $74 per square foot of space, Atlanta offers the most bang for your buck as a renter.
  • Orlando: Despite its many perks (think: Disney World, Universal Studios), Orlando is among the country’s more affordable rental markets. Renters pay just $90 per square foot.
  • Chicago: Chicago’s price per square foot is just $92, making it the third-most affordable major rental market.
  • Tampa: Just a short drive from Orlando, Tampa is another affordable rental market. Renters pay just $99 per square foot in the city.
  • Charlotte: Charlotte, North Carolina, has a price just slightly higher than Tampa’s at $102.

Worst Cities

While California weather can be lovely, the housing market is often tough. In fact, if you’re looking to rent an affordable duplex, you’ll want to steer clear of the West Coast altogether. The region claims some of the highest prices per square foot in the country. 

Some of these high-cost cities include:

  • San Francisco: $474 per square foot
  • Anaheim, California: $339 per square foot
  • San Diego: $303 per square foot
  • Los Angeles: $296 per square foot
  • Oakland, California: $291 per square foot
  • Seattle: $271 per square foot

Other Great Markets to Consider

For the most part, the market for duplexes follows the overall rental market. So if you’re hunting for a deal, these ultra-affordable markets may be a good bet. 

  • Bismarck, North Dakota: Bismarck was ranked No. 1 in terms of rental market affordability in 2019. Renters pay about $892 per month, on average.
  • Chesapeake, Virginia: This small Virginia town was No. 2 in affordability in 2019. It also took second for lowest median rent growth forecast, meaning lower rents to come!
  • Casper, Wyoming: Casper’s average rent sits around $846.
  • Sioux Falls, South Dakota: Renters pay about $825 per month in Sioux Falls.
  • Newport News, Virginia: Newport News is a top-five market in terms of affordability. Renters in the city pay $1,003.

Best Markets to Watch

Planning to stay in your town for a while? You may want to factor in overall rental market trends. As of October 2019, here are the markets where rental prices have been heading downward:

  • Houston: Rents have dropped 0.5% in Houston over the last year. The current average rent is $1,378.
  • Buffalo, New York: Rents are down 0.3% in Buffalo. The average renter pays $1,015.
  • Baltimore: Rents are down 0.1% in Maryland’s largest city. They currently sit at $1,605.

You may also want to avoid these cities where rents have trended upward over the last year:

  • Phoenix: Up 6.1%
  • Las Vegas: Up 5.9%
  • Riverside, California: Up 4.3%
  • Memphis, Tennessee: Up 4.2%
  • Cleveland: Up 4.1%

Time of Year Matters

Another way to snag more affordable rent is to time your lease carefully. Due to seasonal fluctuations, some months are more affordable for renters than others. In many markets, November through March are the best months to snag a discount. In some cities, you can see as much as a 4.7% difference in rents just by changing the timing on your lease.

Renting a duplex may be the right move for you if you’re looking for a little more space than an apartment. Check out more affordable markets like Atlanta, Orlando, and Chicago, and consider renting during the winter months to save even more money.  

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