Do you suppose city and chamber officials would mind if “Welcome to Santa Ana” signs included in small tape “the fourth worst place in America to be a renter?”
That dubious distinction comes from a study titled “Rental Bang for Your Buck,” which names the five best and five worst U.S. cities for tenants.
Rental markets were ranked in the 100 most-populous U.S. cities based on:
- Median asking prices per square foot for all rentals advertised on Zillow.com.
- Estimated rental value of a typical residence within a given city (including owner-occupied properties not available for rent)
- How much each community's median rental value has increased or decreased over the past 12 months
- Each market's “break-even period,” an estimate of how many years of homeownership it takes before buying a place that costs less than renting
Santa Ana is sandwiched between fifth-worst Boston and third-worst Minneapolis.
Fourth-worst market for renters: Santa Ana, Calif.
Bang for Your Buck score: 26.92
The typical property in this community some 30 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles carries a $2,179-a-month rental value, the 11th-highest among America's largest cities.
Santa Ana's rental values are also growing at 4.21% a year, or more than twice the U.S. norm. Similarly, the median Santa Ana rental lists for $1.68 a square foot, well above the $1.02 typical nationwide. “Santa Ana is an expensive market for renters,” Gudell says.
The 329,000-population community also has a 2.76-year break-even period for buying vs. renting. That's below the U.S. median — bad news for tenants.
Numbers one and two at being worst are in Flordia, Miami and Hialeah respectively.
The best cities for renters, according to Zillow, are:
1. St. Louis
2. Fayetteville, N.C.
3. Virginia Beach, Va.
4. El Paso, Texas
5. Knoxville, Tenn.