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Cities Where Housing Vacancy Rates Are Highest – 2023 Study


For five years up until 2022, the housing vacancy rate in the largest U.S. cities fell from 9.3% to 7.3%. During that same period, the median sale price of a home in the U.S. jumped from $322,425 to $457,475, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Vacancy rates may indicate an inefficient use of housing in a city, or an unbalanced supply and compared to demand, with ripple effects for homebuyers, homeowners and investors.

With these dynamics in mind, SmartAsset examined U.S. Census Bureau data to calculate the housing vacancy rates in the 343 largest cities in the country and how they changed between 2017 and 2022. 

Key Findings

  • Nearly one quarter of dwellings are vacant in New Orleans. New Orleans has the highest housing vacancy rate at 22.9%. Other Louisiana cities also have particularly high vacancy rates, including Shreveport (16.0%) and Baton Rouge (16.0%).
  • Despite population growth, these areas have particularly high vacancy rates. Vacancy rates in St. George, UT, and Cape Coral, FL, were also relatively high – 14.8% and 18.4%, respectively – even as the two cities saw population growth of 18.5% and 11.5%, respectively.More than 9% of housing units were vacant in Enterprise, NV despite a 46% increase in population between 2017 and 2022. 
  • Floridian cities have some of the highest vacancy rates. Cities in Florida make up one third of the top 25 spots, including Pompano Beach (21.7%), Fort Lauderdale (21.4%), Clearwater (20.7%), Cape Coral (18.4%), St. Petersburg (17.0%), West Palm Beach (16.2%) and Hollywood (15.9%).
  • These Colorado and California cities have some of the lowest vacancy rates. Centennial, CO, a city of 105,000 people, has the lowest vacancy rate in the nation at just 0.5%. The Denver suburb is immediately followed by Longmont, Colorado (0.8%), and Simi Valley, California (1.2%). In fact, nine of the 10 places with the nation’s lowest vacancy rates are in these two states. 
  • Housing units increase by at least 40% in these Southwestern cities. Between 2017 and 2022, the city of Buckeye, AZ, saw its housing stock increase by 79.1% – more than any other city. Enterprise, NV, added 43.6% more housing units, while Goodyear, AZ, saw 40% growth in housing. All three increases coincided with significant population growth in each city – 48.1% in Buckeye, 46% in Enterprise and 27.4% in Goodyear. 
  • More than 300,000 housing units in New York City sat vacant. However, the Big Apple’s total vacancy rate of 8.3% in 2022 fell slightly from five years earlier (9.7%). Meanwhile, San Francisco had over 52,000 vacant units in 2022 for a 12.7% vacancy rate. 
  • Housing units increased in these cities, even as populations shrunk. Despite declining populations, cities like Miami and San Francisco saw their housing stocks increase between 2017 and 2022 by 13.1% and 4.2%, respectively. Jackson, Mississippi, had 10.4% fewer residents in 2022 than five years earlier but added 5.6% more units of housing. 

Top 10 Cities With the Highest Vacancy Rates

1. New Orleans, LA

In 2022, New Orleans reported a vacancy rate highest of 343 cities – 22.9%. Over the previous five years, the city saw its population decrease by 4.2%. In total, there were 44,746 vacant housing units in 2022, nearly 8,000 more than five years earlier. 

2. Tuscaloosa, AL

The city of Tuscaloosa, which is home to the University of Alabama, had a vacancy rate of 22.5%. Despite a minimal population increase of 0.3% from 2017 to 2022, the city reported 12,050 empty housing units by the end of that five-year period. 

3. Detroit, MI

Detroit’s vacancy rate is 21.9%. The city's population diminished by 6.0% over five years, with 68,048 housing units vacant in 2022. However, the city had approximately 31,000 more vacant housing units at the start of that five-year period compared to 2022. 

4. Pompano Beach, FL

Located 10 miles north of Fort Lauderdale, Pompano Beach’s most recent vacancy rate was 21.7%. The city saw its population grow by just 0.8% between 2017 and 2022, to end up with 13,376 unoccupied housing units.

5. Fort Lauderdale, FL

In Fort Lauderdale, 21.4% of housing units were vacant in 2022. While the city’s population grew by 0.9% during the five-year period that started in 2017, there were 21,751 vacant residences in 2022. 

6. Clearwater, FL 

Clearwater recorded a vacancy rate of 20.7% in 2022 – almost identical to five years earlier when 20.8% of housing units were empty. While the city’s population grew by 1.0% between 2017 and 2022, there were 12,641 vacant housing units by the end of that five-year stretch. 

7. Paradise, NV 

In Paradise, 20.5% of housing units were vacant in 2022, while the population declined by 21.0% between 2017 and 2022. There were 19,210 units of unoccupied housing by the end of that five-year period. 

8. Birmingham, AL

Alabama’s largest city lost 7.7% of its residents between 2017 and 2022, with a tailing vacancy rate of 18.9%. In total, Birmingham reported 20,644 empty residences in 2022 or about 3,000 fewer than the city recorded five years earlier. 

9. Jackson, MS

In 2022, Jackson had a vacancy rate of 18.7%. The city faced a notable population reduction of 10.4% between 2017 and 2022, with 14,325 empty housing units by the end of that period – nearly 4,000 more vacants housing units than five years earlier. 

10. Cape Coral, FL 

Cape Coral recorded the 10th-highest vacancy rate in the country with 18.4% homes sitting empty in 2022. Despite the city's robust population growth of 11.5% from 2017 to 2022 – more than any other city in the top 10 – there were 18,392 vacant homes.

Data and Methodology

This study examined data for 343 U.S. cities with a population of 100,000 or higher in 2022. Data for total housing units, vacant housing units and population comes from the U.S. Census Bureau 1-Year American Community Survey for 2022 and 2017. Cities were ranked by the highest rate of vacant housing compared to total housing for 2022.

Tips for Managing Housing Expenses

  • Don’t count out renting. SmartAsset’s buy vs. rent calculator can help you determine which option may make more sense in a given location based on your budget. 
  • Be mindful of effective tax rates. No one enjoys paying high property taxes, but average tax bills don’t tell the whole story. It’s important to compare property taxes to home values to get a better sense of what the effective tax rate of a typical home is in a particular city. Here’s a look at the places with the highest effective real estate taxes.
  • Work with a professional. A financial advisor can do more than simply manage your investments. Financial planners work to build comprehensive plans that take their clients’ full financial profiles into account. Finding a financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can have a free introductory call with your advisor matches to decide which one you feel is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

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Photo credit: © Andrews