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Manhattan is notoriously expensive. And so is Chicago. But how do these cities compare to others across the globe?

From a renter’s perspective, both Manhattan and L.A. are more “cost burdensome” than Chicago. But before you assume Chicago rents aren’t that bad, Chicagoans are still paying 38% of their income each month for rent.

The research teams at PwC and RENTCafé looked at rental prices in the world’s 30 best cities to live in and compared them with the local median incomes to see just how (un)affordable these fine urban hotspots are.

While Chicago is seen as a city with great opportunity, we still fall among the worst cities in terms of rent burden:



A few additional highlights from the research:

  • Among the 30 global hubs that made PwC’s “Cities of Opportunity” list, NYC’s Manhattan is the priciest place to rent in the world and the second-least affordable. Manhattanites shell out an astounding 59% of their income on rent.
  • Deciding between Chicago and Los Angeles as your next place to live? Both cities are moderately rent burdened, but L.A. takes the lead in the unaffordability race. The 47% rent burden places Los Angeles fourth among the cities with the worst rent-to-income ratio whereas housing eats up “only” 38% of Chicagoans’ median income.
  • San Francisco’s median income – approx. $92,100 – is one of the highest in the world’s cities of opportunity, second only to Singapore. Think that’s enough to avoid affordability problems? Not really. San Franciscans pay approx. $37,800 on rent per year, pushing the rent-to-income ratio to 41%.
  • At the other end of the spectrum, Kuala Lumpur emerges as the best choice for renters in search of more relaxed lifestyles. Rent barely takes 20% of the median household income in Malaysia’s capital city.


For the full study, visit here. Main photo credit.