New Data Reveals The Most Expensive Cities For Renters (And A Little Bit Of Good News)

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Los Altos, CA (September 2022)—New data on the rental landscape in America has been released by Dwellsy, and one thing is for sure: The past year has brought dramatic changes.

Most notably, the median asking rent rose by 27.9 percent (representing a $460 monthly increase) between August 2021 and August 2022. But the news isn’t all bad for renters, says Dwellsy CEO and cofounder Jonas Bordo.

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“August brought welcome relief in the form of lower rent increases than we’ve seen in past months,” he shares. “Rent typically approaches its seasonal peak in early fall, and we would normally expect median prices to rise approximately 1 percent from July to August.

This year’s rent increase of 0.5 percent is below seasonal norms. And while half a percentage point—which translates to $10—may not seem like a lot, it signals a slowdown in the pace of rent inflation that I believe will continue.”

Dwellsy, the largest home rental listing platform in the country, regularly mines its 13+ million verified residential rental listings for statistics and data. Because Dwellsy allows landlords to post listings free of charge, it has a pool of data that’s more diverse—and more representative of the true rental landscape—than that of pay-to-play listing services.

Each month, Dwellsy breaks this data down regionally across the U.S. so that renters and landlords can see up-to-date trends in rental housing and current affordability in their area.

Bordo believes that providing accurate and timely rental data is a crucial service for renters, landlords, cities, and organizations connected to the rental industry.

Since it’s estimated by the U.S. Census Bureau that renters make up 36 percent of all households, a large portion of the population needs this data to make informed decisions, plan for the future, and respond to the needs of the marketplace—especially given the rapid changes brought on by COVID-19 and its aftermath.

Here, Bordo shares a breakdown of what’s happening in rental markets across America.

Median Monthly Rent Has Risen by 28 Percent Year-Over-Year

As mentioned earlier, the year-over-year increase in median asking rent has risen by 27.9 percent, with prices rising steadily since November 2021.

“A closer look at the numbers reveals that single-family home rentals are heavily driving the overall market,” Bordo points out. “Rents for that property type are up more than 36 percent. Meanwhile, apartment rent has risen by only 4.7 percent.”

  Median Asking Rent by Property Type
Month Single-Family Homes Apartments All Rentals
Aug-21 $ 1,725 $ 1,600 $ 1,650
Sept-21 $ 1,759 $ 1,495 $ 1,649
Oct-21 $ 1,800 $ 1,475 $ 1,600
Nov-21 $ 1,895 $ 1,520 $ 1,630
Dec-21 $ 1,954 $ 1,515 $ 1,670
Jan-22 $ 2,080 $ 1,550 $ 1,750
Feb-22 $ 2,160 $ 1,562 $ 1,820
Mar-22 $ 2,175 $ 1,575 $ 1,850
Apr-22 $ 2,210 $ 1,600 $ 1,920
May-22 $ 2,260 $ 1,650 $ 1,995
Jun-22 $ 2,300 $ 1,648 $ 2,045
Jul-22 $ 2,340 $ 1,674 $ 2,100
Aug-22 $ 2,350 $ 1,675 $ 2,110

Top Ten Most Expensive Big Cities for Renters

With a median asking rent of $3,021, New York City claimed the top spot in the August rankings for “most expensive big cities,” but not by a large margin. Boston and San Jose tied for the number two position with median rents at $3,000.

“Within this group, Austin stands out with the highest rent increase, which has risen by a staggering 86.3 percent,” Bordo says. “Denver and Tampa have also experienced rent increases that exceed the national average.”

This table shows which large cities were most expensive by August 2022 asking rent.

Rank Metropolitan Statistical Area Median August 2022 Asking Rent Change in Rent Since August 2021
1 New York, NY $3,021 19.7%
2 Boston, MA $3,000 9.7%
2 San Jose, CA $3,000 15.5%
4 San Francisco, CA $2,995 11.1%
5 Austin, TX $2,930 86.3%
6 San Diego, CA $2,695 9.2%
7 Miami, FL $2,670 6.8%
8 Los Angeles, CA $2,595 8.1%
9 Denver, CO $2,550 45.7%
10 Tampa, FL $2,520 44.1%

Top Ten Most Expensive Small Cities for Renters

Most of us assume that big, notoriously pricey cities like New York and San Francisco—or perhaps Honolulu or Washington, DC—are the most expensive places to rent.

While these large markets certainly do cost renters a pretty penny, the most expensive place to rent in America might surprise you. It’s currently Silverthorne, Colorado, which is located just over an hour west of Denver.

“In fact, the top three small cities all have rent levels above those of major markets,” shares Bordo.

This table shows which small cities were most expensive for renters in August 2022.

Rank Metropolitan Statistical Area Median August 2022 Asking Rent Change in Rent Since August 2021
1 Silverthorne, CO $3,500 22.8%
2 Naples-Marco Island, FL $3,250 21.4%
3 Santa Cruz, CA $3,200 14.3%
4 Napa, CA $2,998 1.0%
5 Boulder, CO $2,850 36.0%
6 Santa Barbara, CA $2,798 (21.7%)
7 Oxnard-Thousand Oaks- Ventura, CA $2,770 4.5%
8 Fort Collins-Loveland, CO $2,730 70.6%
9 Kahului-Wailuku, HI $2,725 4.8%
10 Olympia, WA $2,640 42.7%

Top Ten Cities with Fastest-Growing Rent

“In some cities, rent has more than doubled in the past year,” Bordo says. “Tucson, Arizona tops the list with asking rent having risen by 124 percent since last August. In most markets, this type of mind-boggling rental cost inflation is due to a steep demand for single-family home rentals.”

This table lists cities with the fastest growing rent between August 2021 and August 2022.

Rank Metropolitan Statistical Area Median August 2022 Asking Rent Change in Rent Since August 2021
1 Tucson, AZ $1,980 124.0%
2 Springfield, MO $1,590 123.0%
3 Anderson, SC $1,960 117.8%
4 Kansas City, MO-KS $2,230 112.4%
5 Austin, TX $2,930 86.3%
6 Greenville, SC $1,950 85.7%
7 Greeley, CO $2,350 80.9%
8 Fort Collins, CO $2,730 70.6%
9 Myrtle Beach, SC $2,365 67.1%
10 Winston-Salem, NC $1,580 64.1%

Top Ten Most Expensive Cities for Single-Family Rental Homes

Many renters are looking for more space, causing single-family rental homes to be the most in-demand property type. But demand currently exceeds supply, and the rents reflect that.

“A year ago, a single-family rental was about the same price as an apartment ($1,725 versus $1,600),” shares Bordo. “SFR properties are now 40 percent more expensive than apartments nationwide, and those rents are also growing at a faster rate. Median rent for single-family homes is currently $2,350 versus $1,675 for apartments. That’s a tremendous shift in the market.”

This table ranks the most expensive cities by single-family home rents.

Rank Metropolitan Statistical Area Median Single-Family Home Asking Rent, August 2022 Change in Single-Family Home Asking Rent Since August 2021
1 San Jose, CA $3,695 8.7%
2 Salinas, CA $3,620 (8.4%)
3 Santa Barbara, CA $3,600 (10.0%)
4 San Francisco, CA $3,550 11.0%
5 Naples-Marco Island, FL $3,495 9.4%
6 San Diego, CA $3,300 13.8%
6 Los Angeles, CA $3,300 (4.3%)
8 Austin, TX $3,210 57.7%
9 Napa, CA $3,200 25.2%
9 Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA $3,200 6.7%

Top Ten Most Expensive Cities for Apartment-Dwellers

Especially in comparison to single-family rental homes, prices for apartments haven’t shifted very far upward.

“As mentioned earlier, apartment rent has risen by only 4.7 percent—a rate that’s actually below overall inflation levels,” says Bordo.

This table ranks the most expensive cities by apartment rent.

Rank Metropolitan Statistical Area Median Apartment Asking Rent,
August 2022
Change in Apartment Asking Rent Since August 2021
1 New York, NY $3,182 22.4%
2 Naples-Marco Island, FL $3,031 29.0%
3 Boston, MA $3,000 11.1%
4 Napa, CA $2,980 (8.7%)
5 San Jose, CA $2,850 14.5%
6 San Francisco, CA $2,800 7.9%
7 Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA $2,685 15.5%
8 San Diego, CA $2,534 8.1%
9 Miami, FL $2,500 2.0%
10 Los Angeles, CA $2,495 8.7%

“One big takeaway from all of this data is that it’s definitely a landlord’s market right now—but individual renters can significantly defray their housing costs if they can be flexible regarding their location, and especially if they are able to rent an apartment versus a single-family home,” says Bordo.

“Looking ahead, median rents will likely continue to stay high, but barring unforeseen circumstances, I do believe we have turned a corner and can expect a slower rate of rent increase going forward.”

About Jonas Bordo:

Jonas Bordo is the CEO and cofounder of Dwellsy, the free residential rental marketplace that makes it easy to find hard-to-find rentals.

About Dwellsy:

Dwellsy is the renter’s marketplace: a comprehensive residential home rentals marketplace based on the radical concept that true, organic search in a free ecosystem creates more value than the pay-to-play model embraced by all of the current rental listing services.