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50 cities where it's better to buy than to rent

Stacker analyzed home and rent prices from Zillow to see where it makes more sense to buy than rent.

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A neighborhood of brick homes with American flags.

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It's an oft-heard joke that millennials would rather spend money on avocado toast than buy a home, but the reality is much more complicated.

In decades past, owning a home was a cornerstone of personal achievement, but increasingly, this dream is falling out of favor. As of 2022, 77.8% of the Silent Generation and 76.8% of baby boomers owned homes, in contrast to just 51.5% of millennials. In the same year, almost 25% of millennials stated they would "always rent" and never purchase a house.

There are a variety of reasons. Millennials came into adulthood right around the time the real estate market collapsed in the late 2000s. They are also facing record-breaking student loan debt, inflated mortgage rates, and the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, which raised housing prices as more people shifted to work-from-home setups.

While buying a home may once have been a given, members of all generations are now seriously weighing when it is best to rent. Stacker analyzed home and rent prices from Zillow to see where it makes more sense to buy than rent. This analysis measured the 500 largest cities by population.

The price-to-rent ratio was calculated by dividing the 2023 median home price in that city by the annualized rent. The price-to-rent ratio is an industry metric used to measure whether it is cheaper to buy or rent, or whether the housing market is overvalued in that location. It does not take into account affordability.

In the 500 largest cities in the U.S., the average price-to-rent ratio was 18.58. Most of the cities on the list are in the Midwest and South, where home prices are lower than on the coasts.

Buying a home is a big financial decision with many one-time upfront closing costs, including down payments and fees. This analysis does not consider those costs, nor the monthly mortgage payment, which can vary depending on the type of loan secured, interest rates, or credit scores.

Read on to find out where it's worth it to splurge on a down payment and where you'd be better off keeping your savings intact.

#50. Plainfield, Illinois

An aerial view of Plainfield.

Hendrickson Photography // Shutterstock

- Price-to-rent ratio: 12.34
- Median sale price: $351,632
- Median annual rent: $28,492 ($2,374 per month)

#49. Vero Beach, Florida

An aerial view of turquoise water on Vero Beach.

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- Price-to-rent ratio: 12.32
- Median sale price: $368,463
- Median annual rent: $29,903 ($2,492 per month)

#48. Rochester, New York

A waterfall under a bridge with the Rochester skyline in the background.

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- Price-to-rent ratio: 12.30
- Median sale price: $206,245
- Median annual rent: $16,764 ($1,397 per month)

#47. McAllen, Texas

A river.

MechanicSloth // Shutterstock

- Price-to-rent ratio: 12.25
- Median sale price: $212,890
- Median annual rent: $17,384 ($1,449 per month)

#46. Fayetteville, North Carolina

A historic brick building in downtown Fayetteville.

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- Price-to-rent ratio: 12.12
- Median sale price: $195,603
- Median annual rent: $16,137 ($1,345 per month)

#45. Warren, Michigan

An aerial view of Warren.

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- Price-to-rent ratio: 12.11
- Median sale price: $187,180
- Median annual rent: $15,462 ($1,288 per month)

#44. San Angelo, Texas

Buildings on the river in downtown San Angelo.

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- Price-to-rent ratio: 12.0
- Median sale price: $194,459
- Median annual rent: $16,206 ($1,350 per month)

#43. Trenton, New Jersey

An aerial view of Trenton at sunset.

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- Price-to-rent ratio: 11.85
- Median sale price: $274,061
- Median annual rent: $23,129 ($1,927 per month)

#42. Aurora, Illinois

Red brick buildings on the river in Aurora.

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- Price-to-rent ratio: 11.81
- Median sale price: $269,858
- Median annual rent: $22,853 ($1,904 per month)

#41. Elgin, Illinois

An aerial view of Elgin on the river.

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- Price-to-rent ratio: 11.75
- Median sale price: $282,257
- Median annual rent: $24,031 ($2,003 per month)

#40. Kansas City, Kansas

A row of two-story homes.

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- Price-to-rent ratio: 11.67
- Median sale price: $179,430
- Median annual rent: $15,377 ($1,281 per month)

#39. Lansing, Michigan

Downtown Lansing.

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- Price-to-rent ratio: 11.66
- Median sale price: $142,079
- Median annual rent: $12,189 ($1,016 per month)

#38. Sunrise, Florida

An aerial view of Sunrise.

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- Price-to-rent ratio: 11.63
- Median sale price: $358,388
- Median annual rent: $30,815 ($2,568 per month)

#37. Tuscaloosa, Alabama

An aerial view of a waterway going through Tuscaloosa.

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- Price-to-rent ratio: 11.61
- Median sale price: $208,246
- Median annual rent: $17,939 ($1,495 per month)

#36. Augusta, Georgia

An aerial view of Augusta at sunset.

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- Price-to-rent ratio: 11.51
- Median sale price: $177,428
- Median annual rent: $15,418 ($1,285 per month)

#35. El Paso, Texas

An aerial view of El Paso in the foothills.

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- Price-to-rent ratio: 11.46
- Median sale price: $207,594
- Median annual rent: $18,109 ($1,509 per month)

#34. Chicago, Illinois

A row of old homes.

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- Price-to-rent ratio: 11.44
- Median sale price: $284,648
- Median annual rent: $24,886 ($2,074 per month)

#33. Wichita Falls, Texas

Buttercup flowers in a field with Wichita Falls in the background.

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- Price-to-rent ratio: 11.37
- Median sale price: $160,241
- Median annual rent: $14,099 ($1,175 per month)

#32. High Point, North Carolina

An aerial view of High Point.

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- Price-to-rent ratio: 11.23
- Median sale price: $224,055
- Median annual rent: $19,951 ($1,663 per month)

#31. Columbus, Georgia

Columbus on the water.

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- Price-to-rent ratio: 11.07
- Median sale price: $151,975
- Median annual rent: $13,729 ($1,144 per month)

#30. Amarillo, Texas

Downtown Amarillo.

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- Price-to-rent ratio: 10.95
- Median sale price: $196,598
- Median annual rent: $17,961 ($1,497 per month)

#29. New Haven, Connecticut

An aerial view of New Haven.

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- Price-to-rent ratio: 10.87
- Median sale price: $278,151
- Median annual rent: $25,599 ($2,133 per month)

#28. Springfield, Illinois

Looking over the tops of buildings in Springfield.

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- Price-to-rent ratio: 10.74
- Median sale price: $143,236
- Median annual rent: $13,341 ($1,112 per month)

#27. South Bend, Indiana

An aerial view of South Bend.

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- Price-to-rent ratio: 10.68
- Median sale price: $167,834
- Median annual rent: $15,713 ($1,309 per month)

#26. Dearborn, Michigan

An aerial view of Dearborn.

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- Price-to-rent ratio: 10.67
- Median sale price: $217,416
- Median annual rent: $20,382 ($1,699 per month)

#25. Lehigh Acres, Florida

An aerial view of homes surrounded by trees.

Charliegarciar // Shutterstock

- Price-to-rent ratio: 10.67
- Median sale price: $264,914
- Median annual rent: $24,837 ($2,070 per month)

#24. Saginaw, Michigan

Saginaw on the water.

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- Price-to-rent ratio: 10.66
- Median sale price: $113,316
- Median annual rent: $10,626 ($885 per month)

#23. Macon, Georgia

An aerial view of historic buildings in Macon.

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- Price-to-rent ratio: 10.58
- Median sale price: $152,303
- Median annual rent: $14,395 ($1,200 per month)

#22. Saint Louis, Missouri

Saint Louis on the water.

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- Price-to-rent ratio: 10.36
- Median sale price: $163,341
- Median annual rent: $15,761 ($1,313 per month)

#21. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

An alley between historic row homes.

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- Price-to-rent ratio: 10.35
- Median sale price: $222,947
- Median annual rent: $21,535 ($1,795 per month)

#20. Syracuse, New York

An aerial view of Syracuse.

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- Price-to-rent ratio: 10.18
- Median sale price: $166,788
- Median annual rent: $16,378 ($1,365 per month)

#19. Delray Beach, Florida

An aerial view of Delray Beach.

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- Price-to-rent ratio: 10.18
- Median sale price: $343,930
- Median annual rent: $33,788 ($2,816 per month)

#18. Akron, Ohio

Downtown Akron.

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- Price-to-rent ratio: 10.03
- Median sale price: $116,181
- Median annual rent: $11,587 ($966 per month)

#17. Brownsville, Texas

Downtown Brownsville.

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- Price-to-rent ratio: 9.94
- Median sale price: $160,700
- Median annual rent: $16,167 ($1,347 per month)

#16. Lawton, Oklahoma

Lawton on the water.

YuniqueB // Shutterstock

- Price-to-rent ratio: 9.87
- Median sale price: $121,269
- Median annual rent: $12,284 ($1,024 per month)

#15. Beaumont, Texas

An aerial view of Beaumont.

Jacob Boomsma // Shutterstock

- Price-to-rent ratio: 9.47
- Median sale price: $142,484
- Median annual rent: $15,043 ($1,254 per month)

#14. Memphis, Tennessee

An aerial view of Memphis on the water.

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- Price-to-rent ratio: 9.43
- Median sale price: $150,509
- Median annual rent: $15,959 ($1,330 per month)

#13. Montgomery, Alabama

An aerial view of Montgomery.

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- Price-to-rent ratio: 9.34
- Median sale price: $135,527
- Median annual rent: $14,511 ($1,209 per month)

#12. Scranton, Pennsylvania

Downtown Scranton.

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- Price-to-rent ratio: 9.33
- Median sale price: $143,237
- Median annual rent: $15,357 ($1,280 per month)

#11. Hartford, Connecticut

The Hartford skyline.

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- Price-to-rent ratio: 9.21
- Median sale price: $160,649
- Median annual rent: $17,452 ($1,454 per month)

#10. Baltimore, Maryland

Red brick row homes.

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- Price-to-rent ratio: 8.95
- Median sale price: $178,338
- Median annual rent: $19,933 ($1,661 per month)

#9. Shreveport, Louisiana

The downtown Shreveport skyline.

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- Price-to-rent ratio: 8.67
- Median sale price: $124,429
- Median annual rent: $14,354 ($1,196 per month)

#8. Toledo, Ohio

An aerial view of downtown Toledo.

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- Price-to-rent ratio: 8.65
- Median sale price: $111,810
- Median annual rent: $12,922 ($1,077 per month)

#7. Peoria, Illinois

The Peoria riverfront.

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- Price-to-rent ratio: 8.21
- Median sale price: $118,204
- Median annual rent: $14,404 ($1,200 per month)

#6. Dayton, Ohio

Homes in Dayton.

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- Price-to-rent ratio: 7.94
- Median sale price: $111,867
- Median annual rent: $14,097 ($1,175 per month)

#5. Birmingham, Alabama

An aerial view of homes and downtown Birmingham.

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- Price-to-rent ratio: 6.68
- Median sale price: $105,727
- Median annual rent: $15,838 ($1,320 per month)

#4. Cleveland, Ohio

Homes with the Cleveland skyline in the background.

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- Price-to-rent ratio: 6.28
- Median sale price: $103,380
- Median annual rent: $16,453 ($1,371 per month)

#3. Flint, Michigan

An aerial view of Flint.

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- Price-to-rent ratio: 5.19
- Median sale price: $48,244
- Median annual rent: $9,303 ($775 per month)

#2. Jackson, Mississippi

Downtown Jackson.

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- Price-to-rent ratio: 5.06
- Median sale price: $68,496
- Median annual rent: $13,545 ($1,129 per month)

#1. Detroit, Michigan

Two-story homes.

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- Price-to-rent ratio: 4.19
- Median sale price: $63,566
- Median annual rent: $15,168 ($1,264 per month)

Photo selection by Lacy Kerrick.