When it comes to rent prices, it’s usually all about location, location, location.

Whether you’re willing to pay the price tag or want to avoid big-ticket neighborhoods altogether, it pays to know what to expect in prospective areas.

Here, we look at the country’s priciest neighborhoods (based on price per square foot), broken out by studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units.

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The most expensive neighborhoods for studios

You wouldn’t think a studio could get all that expensive. It’s just one room plus a bathroom, right? This assumption couldn’t be any more wrong. This is a prime example of when big things (in this case, the rent price) comes in small packages — at least in certain cities.

boston seaport district

5. Seaport District (Boston, MA)

  • Average price per square foot: $5.52

Boston isn’t known for being affordable, so the studio prices aren’t all that surprising. Still, $2,870 per month for a 520-square-foot studio or $5.52 per square foot is a tough bill for many to swallow.

The good news is that the 2020 monthly rate is down more than 20 percent from the previous year when you could expect to pay $3,589 for the same space. Sweet Caroline, that’s expensive! One thing to note is that the Seaport District is actually made up of four neighborhoods (Fort Point, Fan Pier, the Convention Center and the Marine Industrial Park), so don’t get confused when shopping around.

4. Neighborhood Nine (Cambridge, MA)

  • Average price per square foot: $5.64

In 2020, a 425-square-foot studio in the Neighborhood Nine area of Cambridge costs $2,397 per month, which is $5.64 per square foot. This isn’t too shocking, as it’s home to Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and thus some of the brainiest (and highest-earning) people in the world.

The neighborhood’s 12,000 residents enjoy proximity to all things Cambridge, as well as historic beauty and the 50-acre Danehy Park, a recreational and athletic facility, which is surprisingly non-smelly since it was built on a former landfill!

3. Downtown Santa Monica (Santa Monica, CA)

  • Average price per square foot: $5.95

The first of two area neighborhoods on the studio list, Downtown Santa Monica is the place to be in Southern California. Unfortunately, it’s also the place to pay big bucks for a studio. A 413-square-foot place in the ‘hood runs about $2,458 in 2020, down only slightly from $2,476 in 2019. That’s $5.95 per square foot!

But many are willing to pay the price, as this neighborhood is home to the two biggest shopping spots in the area, Third Street Promenade and Santa Monica Place. Then, of course, you have the beach, boardwalk and everything in between.

norwalk ct

2. East Norwalk (Norwalk, CT)

  • Average price per square foot: $6.50

The coastal community of East Norwalk is located on the eastern shore of delightful Norwalk Harbor. So, it’s no shocker that a 239-square-foot studio in 2020 costs $1,554 (down a smidge from $1,590 in 2019). At $6.50 per square foot, that’s too much for some, but others are happy to pay the rate for the neighborhood’s proximity to both the water and New York City.

1. Pico (Santa Monica, CA)

  • Average price per square foot: $6.88

You didn’t really think this list would be topped by anywhere other than Southern California, did you? At $6.88 per square foot, the Santa Monica neighborhood of Pico is home to the nation’s most expensive studio units. It’s the only ‘hood on our list that’s seen a recent price uptick, from $2,825 for a 425-square-foot studio in 2019 to $2,924 for the same space in 2020. As some locals might say, that’s pretty gnarly.

The 25 most expensive studio neighborhoods

Just because the neighborhood you’re interested in didn’t appear in the top five that doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods yet. Check out this chart featuring the 25 most expensive studio neighborhoods in the U.S.

The most expensive neighborhoods for one-bedrooms

So, you want a little more space than a studio, but don’t feel the need to go square-footage crazy. Here’s how much a one-bedroom apartment stands to cost you in these pricey places. Get ready to notice some trends, as only two states are represented on this list.

5. Southeast San Francisco (San Francisco, CA)

  • Average price per square foot: $5.72

To the surprise of absolutely no one, it’s pretty expensive to live in San Francisco. The Southeast neighborhood of San Fran is no exception, with a one-bedroom, 599-square-foot apartment in 2020 clocking in at $3,427 per month. At $5.72 per square foot, this is down from $3,873 in 2019.

Why the hefty rent? This particular portion of San Francisco has seen tremendous growth and development in recent years and is projected to continue along this trajectory.

northlake seattle

4. Northlake (Seattle, WA)

  • Average price per square foot: $6.43

It’s only getting more expensive to live in the Northlake part of Seattle, which saw a whopping 66.69 percent increase in monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment from 2019 to 2020. Nowadays, a 593-square-foot one-bedroom rents out for $3,812 per month! That’s $6.43 per square foot.

This steep price tag is likely due to its proximity to pretty much everything in Seattle, especially since it’s on the shore of Lake Union. Probably its most unique characteristic is Gas Works Park, a former oil plant turned parkland that’s known for its impressive Pacific Northwest views.

3. Wallingford (Seattle, WA)

  • Average price per square foot: $6.43

Right down the road is the Wallingford neighborhood of Seattle, which saw the same one-bedroom rent increase of nearly 67 percent from 2019 to 2020. In fact, it has the same rent rate as Northlake at $3,812 per month for 593 square feet. That’s $6.43 per square foot.

On Lake Union’s north shore, Wallingford is a dream come true for outdoor enthusiasts, with all of the biking, hiking, climbing and other activities one could hope for. With trolley tracks all around, locals also move here for the area’s largest shopping district, sprinkled liberally with dining options.

2. Mission District (San Francisco, CA)

  • Average price per square foot: $6.65

Back in the Bay Area, San Francisco’s Mission District dubiously boasts the second-highest rent rates for one-bedroom apartments. In 2020, a 533-square-foot place will run a renter about $3,544 a month in rent or $6.65 per square foot. That’s more than most people’s mortgages!

Named for the 18th-century Mission Dolores, the neighborhood is known for its vibrant Hispanic culture, punctuated by the characteristic Mission-style burrito. Mission Street, is beloved by hipsters, especially, for its unparalleled shopping and dining.

panoramic hill berkeley ca

1. Panoramic Hill (Berkeley, CA)

  • Average price per square foot: $7.79

The price per square foot of this ultra-hip neighborhood is $7.79, so a 177-square-foot one-bedroom apartment rings in at $1,378. That’s smaller than most studios! On the eastern end of the University of California, Berkeley community, Panoramic Hill is home to the 208-acre Claremont Canyon Regional Preserve, which is filled with equestrian and hiking trails, not to mention stunning (if expensive!) views.

The 25 most expensive one-bedroom neighborhoods

These five neighborhoods aren’t the only ones that’ll make you sweat at the rental price tag. Here are the rest of the top 25 priciest neighborhoods for one-bedroom apartments in America.

The most expensive neighborhoods for two-bedrooms

A two-bedroom apartment is a great option for people who need a little more elbow room or those who have a roommate. The only problem is that it’ll cost you extra in these five cities.

southeast san francisco

5. Southeast San Francisco (San Francisco, CA)

  • Average price per square foot: $4.84

Ah, Southeast San Fran. We meet again. A 958-square-foot, two-bedroom unit averages $4,640 per month in 2020, down a tad from $4,692 the year before but still clocking in at $4.84 per square foot.

It seems plenty of people are willing to pay big bucks to live on San Francisco Bay and just down the street from the airport. The neighborhood is also literally a stone’s throw from iconic Haight-Ashbury, so that’s pretty cool.

4. D Street – West Broadway (Boston, MA)

  • Average price per square foot: $4.99

Back in Beantown, a 1,059-square-foot, two-bedroom apartment in 2020 cha-chings in at $5,280 or $4.99 per square foot, down 14.19 percent from the year before. Located just next to Seaport District and all of the delicious seafood that involves, D Street-West Broadway is convenient to everything from the waterfront, to the nightlife and so on.

It’s also ultra-walkable, making it a pretty sweet place to live if you can afford it.

3. Seaport District (Boston, MA)

  • Average price per square foot: $5.00

Noticing a trend here? Waterfront equals big bucks. People are simply willing to pay for the privilege of living in this area, even though a two-bedroom, 1,058-square-foot unit is $5,288 per month in 2020 or $5 per square foot (a decrease of nearly 17 percent from 2019, though, so there’s that).

Smack on Boston’s Main Channel, the Seaport District is where you can find the Institute of Contemporary Art, a gem in and of itself.

san francisco mission district

2. Mission District (San Francisco, CA)

  • Average price per square foot: $5.52

At the risk of sounding repetitive, let’s head back across the country to the Mission District neighborhood in San Fran. Here, an 889-square-foot, two-bedroom apartment costs $4,903 per month or $5.52 per square foot.

The colorful Mission District murals, found in alleys, storefronts and on the sides of buildings take some of the edge off of paying so very much for such a small place, fortunately.

1. Pico (Santa Monica, CA)

  • Average price per square foot: $5.62

Topping two of our lists is the picturesque SoCal neighborhood of Pico, where for $5.62 per square foot you can call a 971-square-foot two-bedroom apartment your own. That’s $5,459 per month.

People are simply just fine with forking over the cash to live in what many consider to be the world’s most ideal climate, adjacent to some of the prettiest beaches and best waves around.

The 25 most expensive two-bedroom neighborhoods

Don’t get too high and mighty. Just because your neighborhood of choice didn’t make the top five doesn’t mean it isn’t pretty pricey. See the chart below for the rest of the top 25, which has a whole lot of California.

Best of both worlds

It’s your call as to whether you want to drop big bucks on a rental in an expensive neighborhood. Everyone has their own priorities, and that’s just fine. But here’s some good news for those penny-pinchers out there — there are plenty of cheaper places to live as well, you just need to know where to look.


We found the cheapest neighborhoods by taking the average rent prices in specific areas and dividing them by the average square footage for each unit type in the area to determine a price per square foot. Neighborhoods with insufficient inventory were excluded.

Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and Rent.com’s multifamily rental property inventory of one-bedroom apartments. Data was pulled in November 2020 and goes back for one year. We use a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each individual unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.

The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.

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