Bang for Your Buck score: 67.5 (out of a possible 100) There's not much to knock about Knoxville's rental market. The typical property in the University of Tennessee's hometown rents for only around $893 a month -- the 14th-lowest level among America's 100 largest cities -- and rental values dropped by about 4% over the past year. That's the third-biggest decline for any major U.S. community, and far lower than the 1.9% average increase recorded nationwide. The Marble City also boasts rentals that list for a median of just 76 cents per square foot, well below the $1.02 typical nationwide. Gudell attributes Knoxville's renter-friendly conditions to the fact that the 179,000-population municipality didn't have as bad a housing bust and foreclosure crisis in recent years as some U.S. locales saw. "There weren't as many Knoxville homeowners displaced by foreclosure," she says. In fact, Knoxville's only negative for renters is a relatively short estimated break-even period of 2.45 years, somewhat below the 3.1-year U.S. average. "If you know you want to stay in Knoxville for more than 2.5 years, you're probably better off buying," Gudell says.