JUST BECAUSE YOU’RE TRYING TO BE COST-WISE DOESN’T MEAN YOU HAVE TO GIVE UP ON GOOD TASTE.
Style or affordability? We say you can find both. Proof that you needn’t sacrifice your top-shelf taste for a budget-friendly apartment, these nine rental homes with trendy interior design are as eye-catching as they are affordable. Each has a monthly rate that’s less than the median rent for their popular locations. Better still, for many of these you don’t even have to rely on your own good taste, as they come chicly furnished.
1. New Orleans, Louisiana
Pretty, private cottage just blocks from Bourbon Street
If you scooped up this furnished studio cottage in New Orleans, you’d be able to list Cafe Du Monde (renowned for its beignets and chicory coffee), the French Market (the oldest public market in the U.S.), Preservation Hall (a historic venue for live jazz), and countless other famous French Quarter attractions among your regular neighborhood stops. But this renovated cottage offers a stylish retreat from the hustle and bustle just blocks away. It’s slightly off the street and features a lushly landscaped courtyard enclosed by ivy-cloaked walls.
And it just gets better inside. French doors open into a recently renovated studio that features exposed wooden ceiling beams, hardwood floors, and even a rolling ladder leading to a sleeping loft. With the French Quarter’s median rent at $3,125, this charmer’s $1,500 rate is an affordability standout.
2. Charleston, South Carolina
Light-filled loft convenient to downtown Charleston
The floor-to-ceiling windows alone are enough to put this loft-style one-bedroom in Charleston on your must-check-out list. That blast of sunshine is the perfect complement to the unit’s long, narrow layout that has a distinctly urban feel. While you can expect to fork over $2,200 (the median monthly rent) for other apartments in Charleston’s North Central neighborhood, just $1,240 gets you a lease at East Central Lofts. That’ll leave a little cash in your wallet to enjoy the craft brews and free Friday night concerts at Palmetto Brewing right across the street.
3. Chevy Chase, Maryland
Stylish subterranean space with a wood-burning fireplace
Not only are utilities included in the rent of this one-bedroom apartment in Chevy Chase, Maryland, it’s listed for $1,950 per month, which is well below Chevy Chase’s median rent of $3,850. Also worth noting here is the fact that the rental is located on basement level—but you wouldn’t suspect it given the unit’s bright and cheery vibe. It’s also newly constructed, so the fresh look of those granite countertops, stainless appliances, and wood-burning fireplace is genuine.
Follow the private entry stairs up to street level, and you’ll find yourself in the middle of Chevy Chase West, a quiet residential area that’s popular among commuters due to a location central to both Bethesda and D.C. From this one-bedroom apartment, the trendy shops, restaurants, and attractions of Bethesda Row can be reached in just five minutes by foot.
4. Denver, Colorado
Artist-inspired lofts in a design-driven district
Situated just north of downtown in the larger Five Points neighborhood, Denver’s River North Art District (“RiNo” for short) sports a high concentration of historic warehouses and factories. Nowadays, the buildings host art galleries, art studios, indie boutiques—and apartments that are fittingly artsy. Block 32 at RiNo features colorful, loft-style interiors with modern finishes and an industrial feel. Some even come equipped with dedicated studio space. One-bedroom, one-bathroom units start at $1,396, which is around half the median rent for Five Points.
5. Seattle, Washington
Glass-walled apartment with contemporary flair
With stark white walls and trim alongside dark cupboards and appliances, the monochrome look of this 283-square-foot studio is as modern as they come. And thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows, residents of 1404 Boylston in Seattle can take in a bird’s eye view of the surrounding Central Business District.
Down below, they might spy locals heading toward Elliot Bay Bookstore, Garage (a swanky billiards hall-meets-bowling alley), the 48-acre Volunteer Park, and the dozens of restaurants, breweries, and after-hours clubs that form the framework of this cool and eclectic neighborhood. Rent at the on-trend 1404 Boylston starts at $1,300 for a studio, which is a steal compared to the neighborhood’s median rent of $1,950.
6. Portland, Oregon
Bike-friendly micro studio with built-in furniture
Sure, studios and “micro studios” at The Arthur in Downtown Portland are aesthetically delightful, but they feature another type of design genius as well: efficient use of space. The Murphy bed and built-in folding tables free up floor space and make the tiny units feel surprisingly roomy. The cleverly integrated furniture was added during the building’s transformation from a historic hotel into an apartment building.
Today, the rentals start at $845 per month—way less than the neighborhood’s median $3,495. Their petite size is a perfect fit with Portland’s walkable, bike-friendly culture, as residents can easily make pseudo-living rooms out of the many nearby coffee shops, bars, and other public spaces. The Arthur even features a bicycle parking garage, so you don’t have to figure out where to stash your bike in your efficient living space.
7. Austin, Texas
Soothing, artsy aesthetic on 55 acres
You’d be forgiven for thinking Austin’s West Oak Hill neighborhood was 10 miles from downtown, rather than 10 minutes. Set on 55 rural acres, this 853-square-foot one-bedroom at the Lantana Ridge community is as rustic outside as it is modern inside. The furnished apartment blends mid-century-chic furnishings with contemporary features and colors in a way you’d probably never pull off on your own. And who doesn’t get a small thrill from built-in shelving? West Oak Hill is the home for Austinites who want to stay in touch with nature. Populated by many families, the growing area is one where you can easily find everything you need in nearby strip malls, but also hear the coyotes at night.
8. Saint Pete Beach, Florida
Lovely renovated bungalow just blocks from the beach
If you’ve got your sights set on year-round beach living, do it in style with this two-bedroom bungalow in Saint Pete Beach, Florida. Situated on a barrier island about seven miles west of St. Petersburg, the resort city is revered for its sugar-white sand and turquoise Gulf waters. You’ll feel like you’re at the beach the moment you open your eyes in this bedroom that looks out onto a tropical backyard through two wall-sized windows. That yard includes a sit-here-all-day patio and a covered, wooden bike port, making the outdoors just another room of the beachy home. Plus, plenty of restaurants and tiki bars are accessible from this sunny spot, even though it costs far less than Saint Pete Beach’s median rent of $3,000.
9. Manchester, Connecticut
Converted mill apartments with exposed brick and beams
Historical meets modern at the unique Lofts at the Mills in the quaint New England town of Manchester, Connecticut. Exposed brick and wooden beams are the norm for units inside this former-mill-turned-apartment-community. With 15-foot windows and large, arched windows to match, a studio for $985 per month is a steal in an area where the median rent is $1,400. If you love the classic feel of the building’s original architecture, you’re also going to enjoy the nearby historic Main Street shopping district in Manchester.