The Best Cities for Renters in 2021

in Find an Apartment, Moving on by
Austin, TX

Last year was a strange one, and many people have been reconsidering various aspects of their lives, including where to live. During this pandemic, many experts have noted drastic changes in the rental market and major population shifts between American cities. If you’re one of those people who’s considering moving, below is a list of six great cities for apartment living in 2021.

Note that some of these cities aren’t quite at the height of their usual potential, but then again, nowhere is during the era of COVID-19. Nonetheless, all of these places are extremely livable and among the most promising areas to rent – and they will be for a long time going forward.

Portland, ME

Portland, ME

Though less famous than the Portland in Oregon, this Portland is something of a hidden gem. Situated right by the ocean along Maine’s Casco Bay, it’s the perfect place for those who love sailing, kayaking, paddleboarding, and anything outdoorsy. But Portland is also popular for its nightlife and arts scene. The city has become a hub for young creative people, and these days its quaint cobblestone streets are lined with boutique coffee shops and industrial breweries that look like they’re straight out of Brooklyn.

Portland is also a great place to work thanks to the creative energy of its culture, which has led to the establishment of numerous co-working spaces in the area. Add to this an amazing New England food scene, historic locations and architecture, readily accessible hiking trails, and the world-class Portland Museum of Art, and it starts to look like a pretty appealing place for renters in 2021.

Austin, TX

Austin is undeniably “hot” city now, both for renters and for people relocating from other states. Despite this, it’s still fairly affordable, and rent prices have dropped in some neighborhoods since the beginning of the pandemic.

In general, Austin is a city prized for its culture — particularly its music scene, art scene. and overall progressive and inclusive vibe. It’s also a hub for technology, serving as the home of countless startups and campuses for Apple, Dell, and Samsung. It’s also in Texas, which means you’re guaranteed find great barbeque and down-home people amid all the punk bands and techies. There’s great access to nature here, too, so it’s a perfect place for anyone who likes hiking and getting outdoors. And so far, the lockdowns haven’t been as significant in Austin as they have in other areas, which has attracted many transplants in recent months.

Des Moines, IA

Des Moines, IA

Des Moines isn’t on too many people’s radar these days, but it should be. People who’ve visited or live there know that it’s one of the most appealing spots to rent right now. In particular, the town seems to appeal to young professionals and new families, drawing people in with its vibrant culture of local shops, trendy pubs, seasonal events, and cultural festivals (though the latter two have been put on hold temporarily due to the pandemic, but they’ll certainly be back). This bike-friendly city is also home to great parks and lakes, and it’s renowned for its local entertainment scene.

If all that isn’t enough, Des Moines has also seen a big job market boom in recent years, with major investments made in insurance, finance, distribution and logistics, and publishing. Its healthcare sector is growing, too, and the city is now home to two top medical centers. Furthermore, if you’re an entrepreneur, it’s a great place to run a business, boasting operating costs that are a full 15 percent cheaper than the national average.

Charlotte, NC

Charlotte, NC

Charlotte is a place where old meets new. Due to its mix of charming locals, northern transplants, and international expats, this city offers southern hospitality and homeliness in the context of a busy, high-energy metropolis. It’s a melting pot, and it’s a great spot for locals and outsiders alike. In recent years, Charlotte has been on the rise, with new housing and office buildings going up and new cultural attractions and institutions opening all the time.

At the same time, it’s still very affordable, and it’s a great place for young professionals looking to start their adult lives. The temperate climate, popular beaches, beautiful mountains, and exciting college sports all add to the appeal. In fact, move.org has identified Charlotte among the top five destinations for people who have moved during the pandemic, so it also seems to be a popular choice for those looking to start fresh as national vaccinations begin.

Denver, CO

Denver, CO

Denver is a large, bustling city located in a beautiful, serene environment. Even from the center of town, amid the tall office buildings, you can spot the Rocky Mountains at the end of many streets, each peak capped with snow even at the height of summer. Overall, Denver is an extremely appealing place to live and rent in due to its friendly and healthy people, its gorgeous mountain setting, and its lively business environment.

It’s also famous for its open-minded politics. Denver is home to the people who pushed for the first cannabis legalization laws in the country, though the city has also been behind many other civil rights and activist movements. Colorado is a state of extremes and spirited political energy, and you’re often just as likely to find someone who’s a diehard pro-gun libertarian as you are to find someone who’s a socialist and wants to legalize LSD. Denver is where all these fiery, ambitious people meet to make unexpected things happen.

Minneapolis, MN

Minneapolis, MN

If you can deal with the cold, Minneapolis is truly a hidden oasis amid the tundra of the Midwest. This up-and-coming city is known for its outstanding schools, buzzing arts scene, and thriving job market. Minneapolis is also home to sixteen Fortune 500 companies and to the University of Minnesota, a top research institute and the workplace of many famous authors and professors. On top of that, the city houses multiple nationally-renowned arts museums and is (surprisingly to some) a truly multicultural and international city, with citizens from all over the world living along its quaint streets.

It’s also known for its open-minded and boundary-pushing culture. With a thriving LGBTQ scene and countless gay bars, Minneapolis was declared the “Gayest City in America” by the LGBTQ magazine The Advocate, ranking right above San Francisco no less. Over the summer, many Americans learned about Minneapolis’s progressive politics during the George Floyd protests, and while it was a rocky time for some residents, others found it exciting that their city had become the center of an important national discussion.

All in all, COVID-19 has presented us with a time of transition and unexpected changes. For some, this will mean moving and figuring out what part of the country to rent in next. The list above gives six of the best options, but it’s also important to consider your own life and circumstances. Take some time to figure out what’s important to you, be it work or schools or the kinds of neighbors you hope to have. A move is both challenging and exciting, but if you’re looking for a bit of adventure and a change of scenery, 2021 is a great time to explore.

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