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How much space you can afford to rent on a normal person's income in the biggest US cities

Aliyev Alexei Sergeevich | Getty Images

The amount of space you can afford to rent on a normal person's income differs a lot depending on where you live. You'll likely be able to spread out in Houston or Phoenix but you could feel quite cramped squeezing into 265 square feet in Brooklyn.

That's according to real-estate website RENTCafé. It collected the median monthly renter household income from the U.S. Census Bureau and the average rent from real-estate site Yardi Matrix in the 100 most populous U.S. cities, and then it determined how much space you can afford in each place, assuming you don't spend more than the expert-advised 30% of your income on rent.

Here's how much space you could afford, without becoming rent-burdened, in the top 10 most populous U.S. cities, along with each city's average apartment size and rent. Cities are ranked from most populous to least, with New York City broken up into boroughs.

Los Angeles, California

What you can afford on a median income: 333 square feet
Average apartment size: 792 square feet
Average rent: $2,463

Chicago, Illinois

What you can afford on a median income: 370 square feet
Average apartment size: 747 square feet
Average rent: $1,898

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Brooklyn, New York

What you can afford on a median income: 265 square feet
Average apartment size: 697 square feet
Average rent: $2,796

Queens, New York

What you can afford on a median income: 419 square feet
Average apartment size: 731 square feet
Average rent: $2,195

Houston, Texas

What you can afford on a median income: 757 square feet
Average apartment size: 879 square feet
Average rent: $1,094

Manhattan, New York

What you can afford on a median income: 290 square feet
Average apartment size: 723 square feet
Average rent: $4,113

Phoenix, Arizona

What you can afford on a median income: 727 square feet
Average apartment size: 799 square feet
Average rent: $1,037

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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

What you can afford on a median income: 368 square feet
Average apartment size: 798 square feet
Average rent: $1,592

San Antonio, Texas

What you can afford on a median income: 756 square feet
Average apartment size: 853 square feet
Average rent: $1,018

San Diego, California

What you can afford on a median income: 552 square feet
Average apartment size: 876 square feet
Average rent: $2,154

The data highlights that location matters: The more populated the city, the less space you can generally afford without becoming rent-burdened. "New York, Boston, and Los Angeles," for example, "are places where many dream of … having a better job, a bigger income, and thus, more accessibility to the downtown lifestyle," says RENTCafé.

But "these cities offer the least amount of space one can afford to rent on a median income, even though they are among the cities with the highest average monthly incomes in the country."

On the other end of the spectrum, "you could afford the most space with the same percentage of your monthly income in Gilbert, AZ, Chandler, AZ, Plano, TX, and Henderson, NV, all offering about 1,000 or more square-feet worth of space."

In a separate study that aimed to find the most affordable cities to live and work in 2019, Tulsa, Oklahoma, came out on top, with 85 percent of a business professional's average $68,147 salary left over after rent. It was followed by Lexington, Kentucky, and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Check out the full list here.

No matter where you are on the map, living within your means and employing common-sense budgeting tactics can help you save in the long run. Here are a few tips to help you get started.

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