Where Is It Cheaper to Rent? New York City (Really)

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Thinking of giving up that rental apartment to plunge into home ownership? Before taking the leap, you might be wise to check out the results of a new report, released Thursday by Trulia, a residential real estate research firm. It provides a cost analysis of the country's 50 largest cities, showing which are the places where it's significantly less expensive to own than rent, and vice versa.

Minneapolis tops the list of markets that offer the best bargains for renters who want to become homeowners. Other cities hard hit by the foreclosure crisis fill out much of the rest of the top 10 — including Miami; Fresno, Calif.; Mesa, Ariz.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Phoenix; and Las Vegas.

"The large numbers of foreclosures in these areas caused home prices to plummet, so much so that it's actually significantly less expensive in these cities to buy than it is to rent," the report says. The study took into account the total costs and benefits of home ownership — including mortgage principal and interest, property taxes, insurance, closing costs and tax deductions — and compared those with the cost of renting. To ensure apples-to-apples analysis, the study compared the average list price and average rental price for two-bedroom apartments, condos and townhouses.

Rounding out the top 10 "buy" list were three Texas markets: Arlington, San Antonio and El Paso.

When it comes to renting, New York City ranks first on the list of cities where it's far cheaper to pay the landlord than the bank. Others include several West Coast cities — Portland, Ore.; Seattle; San Diego; and San Francisco — as well as Oklahoma City; Kansas City, Mo.; Cleveland; Omaha, Neb.; Fort Worth, Texas; and Dallas.

In some of these cities, such as Kansas City and Cleveland, low rents are largely responsible for their appearance on the list.

"We're not suggesting that it's unwise to buy in these areas though — just that it's significantly more expensive to buy than rent," the report said.

Ironically, New York City is not only the best city for renters but also the most expensive of the 50 markets, with average rents on a two-bedroom at a budget-blowing $3,538 a month, but renting still comes out as more cost-effective than buying a home, since the average listing in New York City is a chunky $1,383,612.