Comparing the rentals of apartments from city to city is somewhat like comparing apples and oranges. "Standard" apartment sizes vary, as do types of housing. The average Manhattanite may live in an apartment building, for instance, while in Boston, 54 percent of the population lives in four-family dwellings. And while the central city is an extremely desirable area in New York, in Los Angeles it is not.

For the purposes of this survey, based on interviews with local real estate boards, The Washington Post asked the average monthly rental of a one-bedroom apartment in the city's more desirable areas -- Boston's Back Bay, or the Beverly Hills and Wilshire sections in Los Angeles. The one-bedroom was described as having a living room 20 x 12, and a bedroom 12 x 10. It was to be located in a well-kept attractive building.

In this 10-city survey, the highest rents appeared in New York and Chicago -- both cities with a strong trend toward co-oping. Rentals in Phoenix appeared in the middle range of the scale. Because of overbuilding, however, real estate agents say a 15 percent vacancy rate exists in Phoenix, and while a one-bedroom may rent for $320, many land-lords are now offering the first month's rent free, so that rent on a six-month lease actually comes to $266 a month in some cases.

Typical prices for one-bedroom apartments are: [TABLE OMITTED]