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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. These problems are compounded by low housing inventory in many areas and the increasing visibility of homelessness in major cities.

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%.

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