Renters eager to shed the high rents that come with living in many metros are headed to smaller cities where monthly payments are more affordable, even if they sometimes face strong competition for the apartment they want. The Midwest has become a desired destination for many. So have several small towns, especially those with colleges at their heart.

A new report from RentCafe lists seven Midwestern cities among the top 20 rental markets nationwide in the first months of 2024. Milwaukee, WI ranked just behind the top scorer, Miami. The ranking is based on the company’s Rental Competitiveness Index (RCI). The national score was 73.4, indicating a moderately competitive market. Milwaukee blew past that with an index reading of 87. So did other Midwest locations like the suburban Chicago area (85.3), Grand Rapids, MI (84.5), Cincinnati (82.4), Lansing-Ann Arbor (82.3), Omaha (79.9), and Kansas City, KS (78.5).


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Philippa Maister

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