Scatter chart comparing rent growth and average monthly rent for 20 U.S. cities

Best and Worst Cities for Renters

Forbes released its list of best and worst U.S. cities for renters today based on data provided by Marcus and Millichap. 46 cities were included in the list and the average monthly rent for the U.S. was reported to be $1,284 with average YOY growth of 3.3%.

I created this scatter chart showing average rent and growth in average rent for 20 cities from the list, the 10 most affordable and the 10 most expensive. The 10 cities on the left side of the vertical quadrant line are the most affordable. Six of these cities, Columbus, Jacksonville, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Kansas City and St. Louis, have below average growth in average rent. St. Louis is the only one of the top 10 most affordable cities where rents are declining. In the lower right quadrant, you can see that Manhattan, San Francisco and San Jose are the most expensive cities, but they have below average increases in rent.

Best and Worst Cities for Renters Chart Only

I included the data for all 46 cities in the chart data sheet and then determined that the chart was too cluttered when all data points were plotted. Instead of deleting the middle 26 cities, I used the Series task pane and de-selected “Visible” for the cities that I wanted to exclude from the chart. I also added marker and regression groupings of “Affordable” and “Expensive” to clearly delineate the 2 categories and enable a legend. I included the legend just to reinforce the message that the chart only included the 10 most affordable and 10 most expensive cities. I in-place edited the legend labels to include this detail rather than just showing the “Affordable” and “Expensive” marker groupings.

Using the Format Chart task pane, I made the horizontal and vertical quadrant lines visible and I set them to be manual at the U.S. averages of $1,284 and 3.3%. If I left them as automatic, the quadrant lines would have been shown at the average for just the 20 data points on the chart rather than the reported U.S. averages.

I adjusted the scale of the X axis by starting it at $500 instead of $0 to make it easier to see the rent differences, especially for the affordable cities.

Here is the chart in SlideShare to download and edit using Mekko Graphics: