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After the year we’ve had, even people in America’s happiest cities—determined in a new study by Wallethub, based on 31 factors—are looking for a silver lining. For many the one upside to 2020 was rent finally got a little more affordable as prices dropped to historic lows. But some cities have reached the very bottom of the bell curve, according to Realtor.com’s new data: If you want a deal, now’s the time to make a move. We picked out some of our favorite destinations that hit both marks—joy inducing and full of last-chance deals—to consider.

New Orleans

There’s a reason it’s called The Big Easy. The weather’s warm, the food’s great, and every year they throw a legendary party where whiskey flows like water and beaded necklaces are currency. So take note: There’s an apartment available right now on Bourbon Street. The historic home shows off peak Nola architecture with ornamental window treatments and an ivy-covered rear courtyard. Act fast: Realtor.com reported rents were already up 18.7 percent in the area year-over-year. 


Grind City is rapidly changing, with people moving out of larger metros and into smaller metros like this West Tennessee city. Given Memphis is also the birthplace of the blues (the downtown scene is dotted with bars playing live music), it’s no wonder that there’s been a double-digit percentage increase in rent prices. Right near the medical center and Victorian Village, this apartment building has plenty of curb appeal and is outfitted with subway tile ready to pair with any furniture you plan on bringing to the new pad—and all for under $1,000 a month!


Grunge music, stratosphere-piercing restaurants, Dr. Frasier Crane, and coffee so good they sell it in airports as Seattle’s Best: It makes sense that this place is ranked 20th on the list of  America’s 182 happiest cities. If you’re looking for somewhere to make tossed salads and scrambled eggs, though, the suburbs are lined with whole properties at apartment-level prices. This one-bedroom, only a 15-minute drive to downtown, has a lush back garden and a fully outfitted laundry room. 


Boston is steeped in history—plenty of neighborhoods, like Beacon Hill and Back Bay, still look like they did when tea was thrown into the harbor. Most people struggled to divide home and work life when the shutdown happened, but in this two-bedroom condo in South End, you can literally separate the two with a spiral stairwell to “commute” down. The apartment also features exposed brick with built-in bookshelves, ideal for carving out a reading nook

Riverside, California

If city living is not your speed, Riverside is the Los Angeles suburb for you. The smaller metro is full of fun attractions: hiking up Mount Rubidoux and roaming the botanical gardens and art galleries downtown. For anyone willing to make the hour-long commute to L.A., real-estate dollars stretch a little further out east. This two-bedroom Craftsman has new appliances, a backyard patio, and a charming front porch, from which you’ll want to wave to all your new, equally happy neighbors.

Our Winter Renovation issue is here! Subscribe now to step inside Leanne Ford’s latest project—her own historic Pennsylvania home. Plus discover our new rules of reno.