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The Best and Worst Cities for Renters


Like coronavirus, relocation is in the air. The pandemic has sent many Americans packing, often moving from highly infected areas to places with lower infection rates or with more green space. Others have been forced to move in with friends or family because of job losses.

As more companies discover that having employees work from home is feasible, and as some who have already moved begin to see the benefits of their new locales, more permanent relocation could follow.

For now, a recent study by Wallethub considered the options for renters in this period of “pandemic pricing,” with lower rents attracting new customers in a volatile market. The study weighed the pros and cons of hundreds of rental markets across the country, including the 150 largest U.S. cities along with other highly populated areas for a total of more than 180 rental markets covering every state.

The rankings (the source for this week’s chart) were determined by rating each market in two categories: quality of life and attractiveness of the rental market. Within each, 24 separate factors were considered and individually weighed.

Quality-of-life rankings took into account, among other factors, the local job market, school systems, weather, recreation friendliness, crime and the availability of coronavirus support. Attractiveness of rental market included the area’s share of renters, vacancy rates, median square footage, median rents and incomes, laws protecting renters, and the cost of living.

Although the study didn’t examine coronavirus infection rates, current data show that among its top 10 rated cities — most in less densely populated states like the Dakotas and Maine — the infection rate is about 15 per 100,000 residents, while in the bottom 10, largely in coronavirus hot-spot Southern states, the average is about 44 cases per 100,000.

A general takeaway, for now and possibly for the long term: Head out to where there are fewer people.

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