As municipalities around the world scramble to save their local economies from the effects of COVID-19, the United States federal government is sending direct payments of $1,200 to every adult in the nation (with several stipulations). Many affected citizens have pointed out that where they live $1,200 would not even cover their rent for a single month. We wanted to find out where this was actually true, and where the $1,200 stimulus check might actually pay for 30 days of shelter in the average single person's 1-bedroom home.

  • In the US's highest-cost regions such as Silicon Valley, NYC and Boston, the stimulus money would pay for 14-20 days rent paid with $1,200. Real estate hot spots such as Palo Alto and San Francisco are banking less than half of a month's rent with their stimulus check.
  • In our lowest-cost regions such as lower density parts of The Midwest and Southeast folks will receive anywhere from 50 (Little Rock, AR) to 67 days rent (Flint, MI), or nearly two months.
  • In some cities such as Tacoma,  WA (28 Days), Austin, TX (30 Days), Aurora, CO (29 Days) and Ontario, CAN (30 Days), $1,200 will cover about one month's rent.
  • As of May 1, 2020 many regions have been under lock down for 40 days or more with an expectation that, in some regions, particularly those worst hit, it may extend to 60 or even 90 days by the end of the pandemic lock down period.

Cities Where $1200 Pays for Fewer Than One Month's Rent


# Days Rent (for $1200)

Palo Alto, CA

14 Days

San Francisco, CA

15 Days

New York, NY

17 Days

San Jose, CA

17 Days

Bellevue, WA

19 Days

Cambridge, MA

19 Days

Boston, MA

21 Days

Alexandria, VA

22 Days

Jersey City, NJ

23 Days

Beaverton, OR

23 Days

Cities Where $1200 Pays for More Than One Month's Rent


# Days Rent (for $1200)

Flint, MI

67 Days

Bowling Green, KY

64 Days

Wichita, KS

64 Days

Fargo, ND

64 Days

Toledo, OH

62 Days

Oklahoma City, OK

57 Days

Cheyenne, WY

57 Days

Louisville, KY

55 Days

El Paso, TX

52 Days

Indianapolis, IN

51 Days

Where $1200 Covers About One Month's Rent

There are many places in the US where $1200 would pay for about one month's rent including: Tacoma,  WA (28 Days), Austin, TX (30 Days), Aurora, CO (29 Days) and Ontario, CAN (30 Days).   When taken as an aggregate, many states average out to about 30 Days rent for $1200 including WA, NJ, NY and MD. But looking at this by state can be misleading since rural (less expensive) areas tend to balance out the urban (more expensive) areas ie. NYC vs NY.

Methodology, Data & Limitations

We're using Apartment List's latest rental pricing data for all of the above analysis. We've limited our analysis to the price of single person living in a 1BR home in the locations above. Additional funds are given for additional citizens living in a place so our math may not match your own family's economic math.

If you're renting a larger space, subtract 15-30 days rent for each additional bedroom for a rough estimation.

Rental prices could rise or fall during this pandemic. Governments may waive and/or delay rent payments in some municipalities. Check with your official city, county and state government websites for more information or Google “COVID-19 in My Area”.


This analysis shows that may folks could not even pay one month's rent with $1,200 and does not speak to any of the other myriad bills an individual will continue to receive throughout the 2020 pandemic. We wanted to take a closer look at RENT in particular because it represents the most important bill most people have to pay and the consequences of not doing so, the most dire.

Folks with a mortgage (as opposed to renting) tend to be better off financially in the first place and had access to mortgage deferments and furloughs even before the COVID-19 crisis. But renters may face individual landlords who are going to collect payment as soon as they can. And while most states have paused evictions for now, it's not clear how long renters will remain protected throughout 2020.


We have these numbers available for all cities and states in the US. Journalists and publications, contact us here for more data or details on the data above.