Fond of horse racing, bourbon, bluegrass music and college basketball? You’ll fit right into the surprisingly affordable state of Kentucky, where people take all of the above seriously, but in a fun, devil-may-care sorta way.
Although both are certainly beloved, the Bluegrass State is known for more than the world-famous Kentucky Derby and Colonel’s fried chicken. As people from all over learn about the delightful weather and cost of living perks the state has to offer, Kentucky is changing at a rapid clip, while still holding onto everything that makes it special.
Kentucky average rent prices
Renters who don’t wish to drop thousands every month on housing would do well to consider Kentucky. The average rent price for a one-bedroom unit across the entire state is just $1,082. That’s down 1.1 percent over the last year. Emphasis on the word “average” – there are still plenty of cities in Kentucky that are even more affordable to call home, unlike, say, San Francisco or Boston.
The cheapest cities in Kentucky for renters
Looking for the best possible deal? We’ve done all the heavy lifting for you! Check out the 10 cheapest places to live in Kentucky, complete with average rent price and stats on how the rates have changed over the last year.
- Average 1-BR rent price: $1,108
- Average rent change in the past year: +3.98%
Those who consider Kentucky fully country couldn’t be more wrong. Indeed, this largest city in the state has all the creature comforts a metro-seeker could want. But with enough warmth and beauty to rival anywhere else in the state. Found in the north-central area of the state, Louisville residents benefit from proximity to other major cities, like Cincinnati (1.5-hour drive), Lexington and Frankfort.
Not surprisingly, most people associate Louisville with its most famous event, the Kentucky Derby, held at Churchill Downs every May. It also hosts the Kentucky State Fair on an annual basis, complete with rides, games and still more equestrian/agricultural-based events to enjoy. Some things never change, though, and Louisville remains one of the world’s leading producers of tobacco and bourbon.
Currently, a one-bedroom apartment in Louisville rents for an average of just over $1,100 a month, an uptick of nearly 4 percent since last year. Although it’s not the cheapest place to live in Kentucky, it’s definitely one of them!
- Average 1-BR rent price: $1,058
- Average rent change in the past year: +10.22%
Close to the northernmost section of the oddly-shaped state, the city of Florence is more convenient to Cincinnati than it is to the vast majority of Kentucky’s big cities. In fact, at only a 20-minute drive from Cincy, Florence is actually a suburb of the big city. Because of this, it’s not too shocking that Florence is in the midst of a full-on growth spurt. Which is probably why rent prices have jumped more than 10 percent in the last year. Currently, Florence is the 8th largest city in Kentucky, with about 33,000 residents to its credit.
Even if you’ve never stopped in Florence, you’ve likely seen its most famous landmark along I-75 while driving through, the “Florence Y’all” water tower. Turfway Park is another popular local attraction, as the site of the annual Kentucky Derby prep race, the “Jim Beam Stakes.”
A one-bedroom unit in Florence rents at slightly over $1,000 a month. It seems poised to go higher if the more than 10 percent increase over the last year is any indication. Hopefully, it maintains its spot on the cheapest places to live in Kentucky.
8. Bowling Green
- Average 1-BR rent price: $974
- Average rent change in the past year: +18.04%
The city of Bowling Green really lives up to its name, thanks to the lush, vibrant landscape that makes up the area. Found in the southern section of Kentucky, Bowling Green is the third-largest city in The Bluegrass State. Its nearly 60,000 residents fall only behind only Lexington and Louisville. This is the first city on our list of the cheapest places to live in Kentucky to come in at under $1,000 per month in rent. However, it might not stay that way for long. Prices for a one-bedroom unit are up 18.04 percent since last year.
Bowling Green has a ton going for it, industry-wise, with a number of major employers calling the city home, including Fruit of the Loom/Russell Athletics, Camping World and General Motors’ Corvette assembly plant, among many others. Western Kentucky University and all of the educational/basketball opportunities it entails is another local gem. Bowling Green is also well-decorated, in terms of accolades. A couple of those include National Geographic’s “10 Best All-American Cities” list, its designation as “The Best Place to Live in Kentucky,” per MONEY Magazine, as well as Forbes’ “Top 25 Places to Retire.”
7. Fort Thomas
- Average 1-BR rent price: $966
- Average rent change in the past year: +2.43%
Smack on the southern bank of the Ohio River is the northeastern Kentucky city of Fort Thomas. This suburb only six miles south of Cincinnati is loaded with appeal, thanks to its active, engaged community and a full list of events. In particular, the weekly farmer’s market is a popular place to socialize, buy locally-sourced products and generally enjoy the atmosphere this lovely town has to offer. Currently, a one-bedroom unit averages $966 a month, a slight increase of 2.43 percent since this time last year.
Fort Thomas obviously has historical significance from a military perspective, as it was an induction center where men and women enlisted during World War I and World War II. The historic fort, now known as Tower Park, still stands! The Fort Thomas Military and Community Museum is a fabulous place to take a tour and learn more about the important role this city played during trying times.
6. Taylor Mill
- Average 1-BR rent price: $960
- Average rent change in the past year: 0.0%
It’s status quo for Taylor Mill, at least as far as rent prices are concerned. A one-bedroom rental averages $960 a month, the exact same as last year. With not quite 7,000 residents, Taylor Mill is a quaint community where everyone seems to know everyone else. Yet another Kentucky city near Cincinnati, Taylor Mill residents enjoy all the perks of the nearby metro, but with a quaint, country feel.
It’s also a sports lover’s paradise. Highlights of the area include the Bill Cappel Sports Complex, as well as a local youth softball facility. Close proximity to Northern Kentucky University makes it easy for residents to get that undergraduate or advanced degree near home.
- Average 1-BR rent price: $896
- Average rent change in the past year: -2.73%
Just east of Louisville is the homey city of Lexington, which is next on our list of the cheapest places to live in Kentucky. Rent prices are down nearly 3 percent compared with last year, so a one-bedroom unit averages just less than $900 a month.
Also known as the “Horse Capital of the World,” Lexington is quintessential Kentucky. Experience the state in all its authentic glory via a distillery tour, zip-line trip or a milkshake and a snack at the historic Wheeler Pharmacy.
Lex also has a lot of culture to its credit, with a chic dining scene and active calendar at the Lexington Opera House. In fact, the dawn of the 19th century earned the city the nickname, the “Athens of the West,” thanks to its population stacked with forward-thinking intellectuals. As a result, there’s something for everyone in Lexington, no matter how wide and varied your tastes are!
4. Fort Mitchell
- Average 1-BR rent price: $807
- Average rent change in the past year: -0.82%
Rent prices dipped ever so slightly in the northern Kentucky city of Fort Mitchell over the last year, with a one-bedroom renting for just over $800. Yet another Cincy suburb, Fort Mitchell is the proud home of the landmark Greyhound Tavern, one of the most award-winning restaurants in the entire state. Those with a taste for the slightly odd can take in the sight of hundreds of ventriloquist dummies at the Vent Haven: Ventriloquist Museum.
Fort Mitchell is popular with young professionals and families, as it’s an easy commute but still surrounded by lots of fun things to enjoy. Restaurants and pubs sprinkle the area, plus there’s a ton of green space to take advantage of during the mild weather months.
- Average 1-BR rent price: $771
- Average rent change in the past year: +0.69%
Part of the Louisville metro area, the comparatively small city of Fairdale has a population of around 9,000 Kentuckians. Adventure-seekers can literally swing by the Zipline Kingdom in Jefferson Memorial Forest, which itself is the largest municipal urban forest in the country. At 6,500 acres, there are trails for hikers, bikers, horseback riders and so on. Plus, there are spots for camping, fishing and about anything else an outdoorsy person could want.
Fairdale’s surrounding areas are also pretty fun, with lots of wineries and distilleries to enjoy. There is plenty for the entire family to do, with the zoo, Speed Art Museum and Kart Kountry (the longest go-cart track in the world) just around the corner from Fairdale. At $771 a month for a one-bedroom unit, it’s ever so affordable to rent in this homey community, even if the price did go up slightly in the last year.
- Average 1-BR rent price: $631
- Average rent change in the past year: +5.34%
Next to Fort Thomas near the Ohio border, Southgate falls well below the $700 a month rent threshold. A standard one-bedroom is $631 a month, despite the fact that the area saw a 5.34 percent rent increase over the last year.
There aren’t a ton of rentals to choose from in this itty-bitty community of only 3,800 residents, but those available in the historic neighborhood are quite charming. Established in 1907, the city is especially proud of its efforts to preserve green space and has been awarded Tree City USA designation every year since 2005. Southgate also has a fishing lake, park and active community center where people of all ages regularly congregate.
- Average 1-BR rent price: $538
- Average rent change in the past year: +0.50%
Topping our list of the cheapest places to live in Kentucky is the city of Henderson. Yet another one on the banks of the Ohio River, this one flirts with the Indiana border. Home to Audubon State Park, this western Kentucky city is larger than many of the others on our list, with nearly 30,000 residents. Currently, you can find a one-bedroom apartment for an average price of $538 per month, an increase of only half a percent from this time last year.
That low, low price gets a renter access to plenty of fun stuff, as Henderson has a storied reputation for its events. For example, the W.C. Handy Blues and Barbecue Festival is held every June and is among the nation’s largest free music festivals.
Then, every July sees the Sandy Lee Watkins Songwriters Festival, full of acoustic performers from talented artists. Of course, August wouldn’t be right in this area of Kentucky without the annual Bluegrass in the Park and Folklife Festival, held right on Henderson’s picturesque riverfront.
Locals and visitors alike also love to enjoy the area’s outdoorsy options, like canoeing through the Sloughs Wildlife Management Area or a stroll through Atkinson Park Riverwalk for excellent views of the area’s wetlands. Don’t forget to hit Ellis Park Race Course for thoroughbred racing. They also have hilarious events like ostrich, camel and wiener dog races!
Kentucky fried affordability
Whatever size, scope or price point you’re looking for, there’s somewhere for you among the cheapest places to live in Kentucky. Bonus — there’s bound to be at least one KFC nearby when the fried chicken urge strikes!
Rent prices are based on a one-year rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and Rent.com’s multifamily rental property inventory as of August 2021. Our team uses a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.
We excluded cities with insufficient inventory from this report.
The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.