One in six Americans lives in an economically “distressed” ZIP code, according to the Economic Innovation Group’s (EIG) 2017 Distressed Communities Index.
Courtesy Adobe Stock/Tang90246

If your company operates a building in Scottsdale, Ariz., you might have some of the happiest residents in the country.

Apartment List recently released the results of the third annual Apartment List Renter Survey, which analyzed 45,000 responses from renters around the country, to rank which cities have the highest renter satisfaction. Respondents gave their city an overall score, on a scale of 1 to 10, based on 11 factors, including affordability, job opportunities, commute time, and safety.

Over 60% of renters reported individual satisfaction with the recreational activities, pet-friendliness, and commute time in their areas. The four factors most closely tied to overall satisfaction are safety, job opportunities, social life, and recreational activities.

The top-rated cities for renter satisfaction along with Scottsdale are Plano, Texas, and Cambridge, Mass., which all ranked highly for safety and a low crime rate, and Huntington Beach, Calif., where residents cited satisfaction with available recreational activities.

Among large cities, Raleigh, N.C.; Minneapolis; Boston; and Virginia Beach, Va., earned the top scores for renter satisfaction, but small and mid-sized cities tended to receive better overall scores—38% of them received an A- or higher, compared with only 24% of large cities. (Apartment List calculated the overall satisfaction grades using the average city ranking [from 1 to 10]. It calculated category satisfaction grades using the percentage of residents who were "very satisfied" or "somewhat satisfied" with that aspect of life in their city.)

Satisfaction differs among demographics, too. Renters with children, for example, gave Hollywood, Fla.; Tampa, Fla.; and Austin, Texas, top scores for satisfaction, due to good job opportunities and quality of schools, while millennial renters were most satisfied in Boulder, Colo.; Madison, Wis.; and Arlington, Va. College towns, including Cambridge, Mass.; Boulder, Colo.; Provo, Utah; Ann Arbor, Mich.; Madison, Wis.; and Raleigh, N.C., were rated highly for their social life.

Renters were least satisfied in Detroit; Tulsa, Okla.; Oakland, Calif.; and Tucson, Ariz., all of which scored poorly for safety and crime rates, as did Stockton, Calif.; New Orleans; and Memphis, Tenn., where renters reported feeling unsafe. Respondents were the most dissatisfied with job opportunities in cities in Southern California and the Southwest that were hard-hit by the recession, including San Bernardino and Santa Ana, Calif.; Glendale and Mesa, Ariz.; and Albuquerque, N.M.

Affordability remains an issue with renters across the country. Only 38.4% are satisfied with the cost of living in their city. However, the report also found that, despite overall displeasure with affordability, the cost of a rental is weakly correlated with overall satisfaction. This indicates that renters choosing to live in expensive cities are satisfied enough with other aspects of their city to express overall satisfaction.

View the report and find more details on each city and factor here.