The 10 Worst Cities for Renters

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worst cities for rentersAfter the housing bubble burst, thousands of families found themselves saddled with underwater mortgages, peak interest rates and a serious shortage of qualified buyers. For the first time in several generations, renting seemed like a welcome alternative for struggling homeowners.

But depending on where and how you're living, renting can be just as -- if not more expensive -- than owning.

According to new findings from Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies, almost half of renters spend more than 30 percent of their monthly income on rent. Of that group, 26 percent spend more than half their monthly income.

By finding cities with the highest percentage of tenants spending more than half their income on rent, Bloomberg Businessweek identified the 10 worst cities for renters –- and it isn't the lineup of usual suspects.

(Click the gallery after the jump to see the list.)
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The 10 Worst Cities for Renters

Renter households with severe cost burdens: 30.5%
Median gross rent: $1,210
Median utilities cost for renters: $183
Median household income for renters: $38,900

Renter households with severe cost burdens: 30.8%
Median gross rent: $600
Median utilities cost for renters: $140
Median household income for renters: $21,000

Renter households with severe cost burdens: 30.9%
Median gross rent: $970
Median utilities cost for renters: $165
Median household income for renters: $32,000

Renter households with severe cost burdens: 31.6%
Median gross rent: $750
Median utilities cost for renters: $180
Median household income for renters: $25,000

Renter households with severe cost burdens: 31.8%
Median gross rent: $740
Median utilities cost for renters: $160
Median household income for renters: $26,100

Renter households with severe cost burdens: 31.8%
Median gross rent: $870
Median utilities cost for renters: $160
Median household income for renters: $28,400

Renter households with severe cost burdens: 32.7%
Median gross rent: $1,000
Median utilities cost for renters: $180
Median household income for renters: $29,100

Renter households with severe cost burdens: 32.8%
Median gross rent: $760
Median utilities cost for renters: $140
Median household income for renters: $25,000

Renter households with severe cost burdens: 33.1%
Median gross rent: $565
Median utilities cost for renters: $160
Median household income for renters: $16,200

Renter households with severe cost burdens: 34.2%
Median gross rent: $1,040
Median utilities cost for renters: $130
Median household income for renters: $31,900

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Among the unlikely cities named are Akron, Orlando and McAllen, Texas -- and the tide may be turning for renters in other parts of the nation, as well. As we reported earlier this month, one survey found that it's cheaper to buy than rent in 80 percent of 50 major markets.

Additionally, home values are down 32 percent from their peak in May 2006, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Index. While the news may make current homeowners cringe, it also means a lower barrier to entry for new buyers –- provided that they don't intend to sell anytime soon.

Of course, buying is easier said than done for Americans with less than sterling credit; either they can't qualify for a loan, or are unable to make higher-down-payment requirements.

But in cases in which consumers have a real choice and are in no rush to sell, buying is more attractive today than it has been in several years.

Want to know how to deal with other rental issues? Here are some AOL Real Estateguides that can help:

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