The Most Vacant Cities in America: 2022 Data

Written by Sam M. HuisacheJuly 13th, 20228 minute read

Image of empty road and underpass suggesting a vacant city

🏚️ What are the most vacant cities in America? 🏚️
The three most vacant cities in the U.S. are all in Florida: Orlando, Miami, and Tampa. These cities are known for tourism and vacation homes, which means houses sit vacant for much of the year.

Most Vacant Cities, Ranked | Overall Vacancy Trends | Vacancy and Cost of Living | Homeowner vs. Rental Vacancy Rates | Methodology | FAQ

More than 16 million housing units in the U.S. are vacant, bringing the overall vacancy rate to 11.6%. Vacancy is a hot topic right now because the decreasing rate is causing rent and home prices to rise.[1] These problems are compounded by low housing inventory in many areas and the increasing visibility of homelessness in major cities.[2][3]

Americans are looking for cities with affordable living solutions, but some areas have more options than others. We found that the majority of areas with high vacancies are located in tourist-centric regions that tend to have vacancies associated with unused seasonal homes. Four out of the seven cities with vacancy rates exceeding the national rate are in Florida.

In other regions, industrial decline, high unemployment, and economic depression cause high vacancy rates.

To find out where U.S. residents are experiencing the highest rates of vacancy, we analyzed data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Zillow, and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

We ranked the 50 most-populous metros by the overall number of vacant housing units among homeowners and renters. We then compared their homeowner vacancy rates (HVR) and rental vacancy rates (RVR) to get a more nuanced picture of what housing options are available to residents in the studied cities. HVR and RVR both measure the proportion of homeowner and rental inventory which are vacant.

Most Vacant Cities Statistics 🏘
  • There are more than 16 million vacant housing units in the U.S. (16,078,532).
    • 5.8% of rental units are vacant, while 1.4% of homeowner units are vacant — a 314% difference.
  • The overall vacancy rate in the U.S. is 11.6%.
  • The most vacant city is Orlando, Florida, with an overall vacancy rate of 15.3% and 160,952 vacant housing units.
  • Seven metros have an overall vacancy rate that exceeds the national rate of 11.6%:
    1. Orlando, Florida (15.27%)
    2. Miami (14.75%)
    3. Tampa, Florida (13.71%)
    4. Birmingham, Alabama (13.23%)
    5. New Orleans (13.1%)
    6. Riverside, California (12.13%)
    7. Jacksonville, Florida (11.87%)
  • Florida tops our list of most vacant cities:
    • Four of the seven cities with vacancy rates exceeding the national average are in Florida.
  • Forty-three of the 50 most-populous U.S. metros have an overall vacancy rate lower than the national average of 11.6%.
  • The least vacant city is Minneapolis, with an overall vacancy rate of 4.6%.

[/table]

Overall Vacancy Trends in America

To analyze vacancy trends, we examined 2020 U.S. Census data, the most recent and comprehensive data available. We found that the most vacant city is Orlando, Florida, with an overall vacancy rate of 15.3% and 160,952 vacant housing units. Orlando also has the highest rental (9.7%) and homeowner (3.1%) vacancy rates.

📉 The national vacancy rate is decreasing 📉
The percentage of vacant housing units decreased from 12.3% in 2011 to 11.6% in 2020. The rate is still 2.6 percentage points higher than the 9% recorded in 2000.

The overall vacancy rate in the U.S. is 11.6%. Seven metros have an overall vacancy rate that exceeds that percentage:

  1. Orlando, Florida (15.27%)
  2. Miami (14.75%)
  3. Tampa, Florida (13.71%)
  4. Birmingham, Alabama (13.23%)
  5. New Orleans (13.1%)
  6. Riverside, California (12.13%)
  7. Jacksonville, Florida (11.87%)

These metros are in areas with a lot of vacation homes and short-term rentals, or they have been affected by significant natural disasters in recent memory. Natural disasters, for example, can lead to economic decline in affected areas that reverberate for years. The remaining 43 metros on our list all had an overall vacancy rate lower than the national average.

The 50 Most-Populous Cities, Ranked by Vacancy

Rank
City
% Vacant
Total Housing Units
Total Occupied
Vacant Units
Homeowner Vacancy Rate
Rental Vacancy Rate
-
United States
11.6%
138,432,751
122,354,219
16,078,532
1.4%
5.8%
1
Orlando, FL
15.27%
1,054,209
893,257
160,952
3.1%
9.7%
2
Miami, FL
14.75%
2,548,767
2,172,740
376,027
1.7%
6.4%
3
Tampa, FL
13.71%
1,436,297
1,239,349
196,948
1.9%
6.9%
4
Birmingham, AL
13.23%
487,435
422,926
64,509
1.4%
8.1%
5
New Orleans, LA
13.1%
559,877
486,509
73,368
1.5%
7.5%
6
Riverside, CA
12.13%
1,566,442
1,376,503
189,939
1.6%
4.2%
7
Jacksonville, FL
11.87%
656,551
578,620
77,931
1.9%
6.3%
8
Las Vegas, NV
11.34%
912,465
809,026
103,439
1.8%
8%
9
Memphis, TN
11.3%
569,954
505,544
64,410
1.1%
8%
10
Phoenix, AZ
10.22%
1,943,813
1,745,219
198,594
1.5%
5%
11
Providence, RI
9.96%
705,332
635,095
70,237
1.2%
4.7%
12
Pittsburgh, PA
9.91%
1,129,809
1,017,860
111,949
1.5%
5.4%
13
St. Louis, MO
9.86%
1,262,226
1,137,735
124,491
1.6%
6.2%
14
Detroit, MI
9.66%
1,910,964
1,726,401
184,563
1.4%
4.8%
15
Cleveland, OH
9.56%
963,209
871,132
92,077
1.3%
5.7%
16
Oklahoma City, OK
9.54%
578,343
523,154
55,189
1.5%
7.8%
17
Louisville, KY
9.17%
547,307
497,106
50,201
1.3%
6.7%
18
Virginia Beach, VA
9.11%
739,434
672,053
67,381
1.8%
6.8%
19
Houston, TX
9.02%
2,646,682
2,407,993
238,689
1.4%
8.5%
20
Indianapolis, IN
8.99%
868,045
790,050
77,995
1.2%
6.6%
21
Buffalo, NY
8.92%
530,247
482,932
47,315
1.3%
5%
22
New York, NY
8.91%
7,756,312
7,065,536
690,776
1.4%
3.5%
23
Baltimore, MD
8.76%
1,164,762
1,062,780
101,982
1.4%
6.4%
24
San Antonio, TX
8.6%
903,779
826,094
77,685
1.3%
7.5%
25
Charlotte, NC
8.18%
1,062,398
975,476
86,922
1.1%
6.4%
26
Kansas City, MO
8.15%
918,223
843,359
74,864
1.1%
5%
27
Cincinnati, OH
8.05%
946,325
870,103
76,222
1%
4.5%
28
Chicago, IL
7.97%
3,856,019
3,548,735
307,284
1.5%
5.3%
29
Nashville, TN
7.75%
788,546
727,452
61,094
0.9%
6.5%
30
Atlanta, GA
7.66%
2,330,974
2,152,319
178,655
1.5%
6%
31
Hartford, CT
7.61%
516,829
477,495
39,334
1.2%
5.3%
32
Sacramento, CA
7.5%
909,133
840,925
68,208
0.9%
3.4%
33
Philadelphia, PA
7.46%
2,497,830
2,311,452
186,378
1.3%
5.5%
34
Raleigh, NC
7.44%
548,432
507,613
40,819
0.8%
5.7%
35
Columbus, OH
7.34%
869,406
805,628
63,778
1%
4.8%
36
Dallas, TX
7.28%
2,821,032
2,615,579
205,453
1.1%
7.6%
37
Richmond, VA
7.25%
526,129
488,001
38,128
1.1%
4.9%
38
Austin, TX
7.04%
856,586
796,315
60,271
1.1%
5.8%
39
San Diego, CA
6.98%
1,215,528
1,130,703
84,825
0.9%
3.8%
40
Milwaukee, WI
6.82%
680,891
634,436
46,455
1%
5.4%
41
Los Angeles, CA
6.19%
4,661,034
4,372,505
288,529
1%
3.7%
42
Boston, MA
6.06%
1,972,346
1,852,755
119,591
0.8%
3%
43
San Francisco, CA
6%
1,810,522
1,701,865
108,657
0.7%
3.7%
44
Washington, DC
5.75%
2,381,231
2,244,311
136,920
1%
4.9%
45
Seattle, WA
5.43%
1,617,780
1,529,875
87,905
0.9%
3.6%
46
Salt Lake City, UT
5.31%
427,135
404,471
22,664
0.7%
5.6%
47
Denver, CO
5.11%
1,156,748
1,097,674
59,074
0.7%
4.5%
48
San Jose, CA
5%
688,111
653,703
34,408
0.5%
4.2%
49
Portland, OR
4.94%
1,007,774
957,977
49,797
0.9%
3.6%
50
Minneapolis, MN
4.55%
1,456,697
1,390,448
66,249
0.6%
3.6%

Homeowner and Rental Vacancy Rates by Metro

The U.S. rental vacancy rate (5.8%) is 314% higher than the homeowner vacancy rate (1.4%). This is not surprising considering the U.S. housing market has been a seller's market since 2020, and demand for homes is high.

Considering there is also a housing shortage in some areas, it makes sense that homes would be more occupied than rentals. A housing shortage doesn't just mean there's low inventory. It could also suggest that there's an overall lack of affordable housing in the area, which can be caused by a variety of factors.[4]

Twenty metros have rental vacancy rates that exceed the U.S. rate of 5.8% for rentals. Fourteen metros have homeowner vacancy rates that exceed the U.S. rate of 1.4%.

It's important to compare homeowner vacancy rates with rental vacancy rates because they can affect different residents in different ways. For example, in cities where it's expensive to purchase a home, a low rental vacancy rate could be disastrous for residents needing affordable housing. On the other hand, a high rental vacancy rate could suggest a metro is experiencing economic decline and losing residents to other cities.

Homeowner and rental vacancy rates are important to separate because, in some areas, it may be more financially sound to buy versus rent. With increasing home prices, many potential buyers are priced out of the market and are opting to rent for the foreseeable future. In areas with expensive home prices, vacancy rates may be higher.

Metros With Homeowner Vacancy Rates Above the National Average

Of the 50 most-populous metros, these 14 cities have the highest homeowner vacancy rates:

Rank
City
Homeowner Vacancy Rate
Rental Vacancy Rate
-
United States
1.4%
5.8%

1

Orlando, FL

3.1%

9.7%

2

Tampa, FL

1.9%

6.9%

3

Jacksonville, FL

1.9%

6.3%

4

Las Vegas, NV

1.8%

8%

5

Virginia Beach, VA

1.8%

6.8%

6

Miami, FL

1.7%

6.4%

7

St. Louis, MO

1.6%

6.2%

8

Riverside, CA

1.6%

4.2%

9

Oklahoma City, OK

1.5%

7.8%

10

New Orleans, LA

1.5%

7.5%

11

Atlanta, GA

1.5%

6%

12

Pittsburgh, PA

1.5%

5.4%

13

Chicago, IL

1.5%

5.3%

14

Phoenix, AZ

1.5%

5%





In metros where homes are more affordable to purchase, the rental vacancy rate may be higher. This may also be the case in tourist areas where seasonal rentals are common. Some studies even suggest that short-term rentals contribute to housing crises in metros where they are common.[5]

Metros With Rental Vacancy Rates Above the National Average

Of the 50 most-populous metros, these 20 cities have the highest rental vacancy rates:

Rank
City
Rental Vacancy Rate
Homeowner Vacancy Rate
-
United States

5.8%
1.4%
1
Orlando, FL

9.7%

3.1%

2
Houston, TX

8.5%

1.4%

3
Birmingham, AL

8.1%

1.4%

4
Las Vegas, NV

8%

1.8%

5
Memphis, TN

8%

1.1%

6
Oklahoma City, OK

7.8%

1.5%

7
Dallas, TX

7.6%

1.1%

8
San Antonio, TX

7.5%

1.3%

9
New Orleans, LA

7.5%

1.5%

10
Tampa, FL

6.9%

1.9%

11
Virginia Beach, VA

6.8%

1.8%

12
Louisville, KY

6.7%

1.3%

13
Indianapolis, IN

6.6%

1.2%

14
Nashville, TN

6.5%

0.9%

15
Miami, FL

6.4%

1.7%

16
Baltimore, MD

6.4%

1.4%

17
Charlotte, NC

6.4%

1.1%

18
Jacksonville, FL

6.3%

1.9%

19
St. Louis, MO

6.2%

1.6%

20
Atlanta, GA

6%

1.5%





Vacancies, Cost of Living, and Home Values

Vacancy rates should be analyzed by what's causing them, which can differ by location. In some areas, high vacancy rates correlate with a high cost of living. That, in turn, could raise the homelessness rate as home and rent prices outpace income.

Ultimately, the average rental vacancy rate is slightly higher in cities where home ownership costs haven't grown from 2000 to 2020. However, the cost of living is higher in metros where home values have increased over this time period.

An interesting case is the least vacant city, Minneapolis, which has an overall vacancy rate of 4.6%, yet its rental prices aren't increasing at the same rate as other cities across the country. Typically, low vacancy rates lead to higher prices, but it's important to be mindful of outliers such as Minneapolis because they can be great options for those who are open to moving to a more affordable area.[6]

Below, we use regional price parities to measure the cost of living alongside typical home values to see how the overall cost of living in an area can impact its vacancy rates.

Vacancy Rates vs. Cost of Living

Table is ordered from highest % increase in typical home value to lowest.

City
Regional Price Parity Score
Homeowner Vacancy Rate
Rental Vacancy Rate
Overall Vacancy Rate
% Increase in Typical Home Values (2000-2020)
United States
100
1.4%
5.8%
11.6%
98.4%
Los Angeles, CA

111.895

1%

3.7%

6.2%

190.5%

San Francisco, CA

117.369

0.7%

3.7%

6.0%

176.3%

Riverside, CA

103.713

1.6%

4.2%

12.1%

171.8%

San Diego, CA

113.393

0.9%

3.8%

7.0%

157.8%

Seattle, WA

111.951

0.9%

3.6%

5.4%

157.0%

Portland, OR

105.671

0.9%

3.6%

4.9%

149.7%

Miami, FL

109.983

1.7%

6.4%

14.8%

146.2%

Sacramento, CA

106.098

0.9%

3.4%

7.5%

144.2%

San Jose, CA

112.122

0.5%

4.2%

5.0%

142.3%

Tampa, FL

99.101

1.9%

6.9%

13.7%

127.5%

Washington, DC

111.532

1%

4.9%

5.8%

127.3%

Salt Lake City, UT

97.72

0.7%

5.6%

5.3%

125.1%

Phoenix, AZ

102.558

1.5%

5%

10.2%

117.9%

Denver, CO

107.292

0.7%

4.5%

5.1%

115.3%

Providence, RI

101.236

1.2%

4.7%

10.0%

112.8%

Virginia Beach, VA

96.184

1.8%

6.8%

9.1%

110.7%

Nashville, TN

96.98

0.9%

6.5%

7.8%

109.0%

Orlando, FL

98.662

3.1%

9.7%

15.3%

106.2%

Dallas, TX

105.062

1.1%

7.6%

7.3%

105.5%

Buffalo, NY

95.697

1.3%

5%

8.9%

105.4%

New York, NY

115.475

1.4%

3.5%

8.9%

103.4%

Austin, TX

101.798

1.1%

5.8%

7.0%

102.1%

Philadelphia, PA

102.254

1.3%

5.5%

7.5%

101.7%

Jacksonville, FL

96.318

1.9%

6.3%

11.9%

101.1%

Boston, MA

110.218

0.8%

3%

6.1%

100.3%

Richmond, VA

95.439

1.1%

4.9%

7.3%

97.4%

Baltimore, MD

105.41

1.4%

6.4%

8.8%

97.3%

San Antonio, TX

97.918

1.3%

7.5%

8.6%

94.3%

Pittsburgh, PA

95.685

1.5%

5.4%

9.9%

93.3%

Indianapolis, IN

94.705

1.2%

6.6%

9.0%

85.9%

Kansas City, MO

94.702

1.1%

5%

8.2%

85.4%

Minneapolis, MN

103.189

0.6%

3.6%

4.6%

83.5%

Houston, TX

100.075

1.4%

8.5%

9.0%

83.1%

Las Vegas, NV

97.164

1.8%

8%

11.3%

81.6%

Oklahoma City, OK

93.768

1.5%

7.8%

9.5%

81.4%

Milwaukee, WI

95.933

1%

5.4%

6.8%

74.1%

New Orleans, LA

96.859

1.5%

7.5%

13.1%

73.2%

Charlotte, NC

94.581

1.1%

6.4%

8.2%

71.8%

Columbus, OH

94.23

1%

4.8%

7.3%

70.2%

Louisville, KY

91.91

1.3%

6.7%

9.2%

70.1%

Raleigh, NC

95.664

0.8%

5.7%

7.4%

67.1%

St. Louis, MO

95.71

1.6%

6.2%

9.9%

62.4%

Atlanta, GA

98.157

1.5%

6%

7.7%

62.1%

Cincinnati, OH

93.476

1%

4.5%

8.1%

55.5%

Birmingham, AL

92.646

1.4%

8.1%

13.2%

54.7%

Hartford, CT

102.882

1.2%

5.3%

7.6%

51.3%

Chicago, IL

104.846

1.5%

5.3%

8.0%

41.5%

Memphis, TN

92.719

1.1%

8%

11.3%

39.3%

Cleveland, OH

93.003

1.3%

5.7%

9.6%

31.5%

Detroit, MI

97.09

1.4%

4.8%

9.7%

31.1%







Metros With Increases in Home Values Above the National Average

From 2000 to 2020, 25 of the 50 most-populous U.S. cities experienced increases in home values that exceeded the overall U.S. increase of 98.4%. Metros with home value increases above 98.4% have an average price parity score of 105.2, meaning the average price level in those metros exceeded the overall national price level (100).

The average vacancy rate across those metros (8.35%) is lower than the national vacancy rate as well as the rate in cities where home values increased less than 98.4%. This likely means those cities experienced strong demand for housing, which drove up home and rental prices alongside the overall cost of living.

Metros With Increases in Home Values Below the National Average

The other 25 cities didn't see home value increases that exceeded 98.4%. The average rental vacancy rate in these metros is 6.2% — 20.5% higher than the average rental vacancy rate for the other 25 metros (5.1%).

The average homeowner vacancy rate for these metros (1.3%) is 2.6% higher than the average homeowner vacancy rate for the other 25 metros (1.2%). This possibly means that demand is lower in these cities, which may have prevented steep increases in housing costs.

The average regional price parity score for these metros is 96.7, just below the U.S. score of 100, meaning that the average price level in these metros falls right below the national standard. As a result, the cost of living in these metros is lower than in the other 25 metros.

National Housing and Rental Vacancy Trends Over Time

Since 1965, the rental vacancy rate has decreased by 32%, while the homeowner vacancy rate has decreased by 53%. The decrease in the homeowner vacancy rate is 66% higher than the decrease in the rental vacancy rate.

From 2019 to 2022 (pre-pandemic to present), the national rental vacancy rate decreased by 17.1%, and the homeowner vacancy rate decreased by 42.8%. What's more in the years since the pandemic began (2020 to 2022), they decreased by 12.1% and 27%, respectively.

In general, most metro areas saw vacancy rates decrease between 2010 and 2020. For many, this caused higher home and rental prices, which are increasing further due to pandemic-related supply chain and construction issues. As vacancy rates continue to drop, housing and its associated costs will remain a hot topic.

The Biden administration has addressed increasing housing costs as well as decreasing inventory in many areas. It has introduced plans, which attempt to address these concerns so the country can avoid a more devastating housing crisis.[7]

How these policies affect the housing and rental markets in the near future remains to be seen. For now, residents must search for more equitable housing options or cities with higher vacancy rates and affordability.

Methodology

National housing and rental vacancy rates across time are retrieved from the U.S. Census Bureau's Census' Current Population Survey/Housing Vacancy Survey. Metro-level vacancy rates, median household income, and population estimates are retrieved from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey 2020 5-year Estimates. For changes in typical home values across time, we use the Zillow Home Value Index.

We also use 2020 regional price parity data, provided by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, which indexes overall prices of consumer goods to a national index of 100 and offers a comparative score for each metro. Regional price parities measure the differences in price levels across states and metropolitan areas for a given year and are expressed as a percentage of the overall national price level.

ARTICLE SOURCES
[1]

The Street. "Housing Nightmare Continues, as Rent Soars and Home Prices Rise." Page(s) 1. Accessed June 15, 2022. Updated May 19, 2022.

[2]

U.S. News & World Report. "Understanding Housing Inventory and What It Means for You." Page(s) 1. Accessed June 15, 2022. Updated April 28, 2022.

[3]

City Journal. "Ending Homelessness?." Page(s) 1. Accessed June 15, 2022. Updated September 24, 2021.

[4]

Forbes. "There Is No Easy Fix For The Affordable Housing Crisis." Page(s) 1. Accessed June 16, 2022. Updated September 7, 2021.

[5]

Granicus. "Are Short-Term Vacation Rentals Contributing to the Housing Crisis?." Page(s) 1. Accessed June 16, 2022. Updated March 12, 2018.

[6]

streets.mn. "Minneapolis Rents Drop, Bucking National Trends." Page(s) 1. Accessed June 15, 2022. Updated May 6, 2022.

[7]

The White House. "President Biden Announces New Actions to Ease the Burden of Housing Costs." Page(s) 1. Accessed June 16, 2022. Updated May 16, 2022.

About Anytime Estimate

Stay on top of your money, around the clock. Since 2009, Anytime Estimate's straightforward calculators and expert articles have simplified mortgages, refinancing, and other real estate costs — fast. In 2021, Anytime Estimate was acquired by Clever Real Estate, a free agent-matching service that has helped consumers save more than $82 million on real estate fees. Research by Anytime Estimate's Data Center has been cited by The New York Times, CNBC, MarketWatch, NPR, Apartment Therapy, Yahoo Finance, Black Enterprise, and more.

More Research from Anytime Estimate

Other Articles from Anytime Estimate

Frequently Asked Questions



The overall vacancy rate in the United States is 11.6%. This means that 11.6% of all housing units in the U.S. are unoccupied.


2020 point-in-time data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates 580,466 people are experiencing homelessness. With 16 million vacant housing units in the U.S., approximately one person is experiencing homelessness for every 27.6 vacant homes. This number has likely increased since 2020 with rising inflation and housing prices.