MONEY

Where Rent Is Cheap and Jobs (Sort of) Plentiful

For most people, housing costs are the biggest monthly expense–and a particular drag when you’re unemployed. So where can you live in America for cheap today?

According to Reis Inc., which tracks the rental market, the lowest average rent for an apartment can be found in these five cities:

  1. Wichita, KS – $516
  2. Oklahoma City – $543
  3. Tulsa, OK – $577
  4. Knoxville, TN – $587
  5. Chattanooga, TN – $619

What’s more, each city has an unemployment rate lower than the current national average of 10.0%. (An updated jobs report from the BLS is due out this Friday.)

…Not that you’re guaranteed to find a job in any of these places. As Oklahoma City University finance professor Keith Hazelton points out in his blog, unemployment in the wind-swept state is likely to rise if the U.S. economy doesn’t kick into high gear by the end of the year.

But whereas Hazelton thinks the jobless rate could top 11% nationally in late 2010, he argues that, in Oklahoma, the number is likely to hover near 7% (up from 6.6% today). He writes:

“Oklahoma did not participate in the nation’s housing bubble nor much of the commercial real estate bubble now in the process of popping…Oklahoma and other energy states went through their own mini-depression from 1982-1992 as collapsing energy prices brought down banks, retail, home values, etc. The banks and businesses that survived emerged far more cautious about leverage and credit quality, having witnessed first-hand the ill effects of a debt-deleveraging, deflationary episode, in which many parts of the nation now find themselves immersed…”

Wait…the state’s “mini” depression lasted from 1982 to 1992? Does that mean it will take a decade (or more!) for the U.S. economy to recover from its “great” recession?

Pack your bags. Oklahoma, here we come!

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