San Francisco, and Seattle Rental Prices Are Amongst The Fastest Falling In the U.S.

America’s flight from big cities to small ones continues, and it’s really driving rental prices up. Data from Zumper, an online rental portal, show the median price of a one-bedroom is just a little higher in April. Virtually all of the gains are attributed to soaring prices in small cities. Traditionally expensive markets are actually a drag on the index, with prices plummeting.

U.S. One-Bedroom Apartment Rentals Rise Over 2%

U.S. rental prices slipped at the national level, but are still higher than last year. The median rent for a 1 bedroom is $1,245 in April, down 0.2% from the month before. It works out to a 2.1% increase compared to the same month last year. Most of the increases are driven by historically cheap cities, while historically expensive ones take a tumble. 

Small Cities Are Seeing Rents Boom

Traditionally cheaper, and smaller cities are seeing a big boost in rental prices. Durham saw the biggest increase with the median price of a 1-bedroom hitting $1,260 in April, up 29.9% from a year before. Cleveland comes in second with a median price of $1,190, up 26.6% over the same period. Chattanooga was in third with a one-bedroom reaching a median price of $1,090, up 21.2% from last year. See? Not exactly where you’d expect demand to flow, but that’s where it’s flowing. 

U.S. One-Bedroom Rental Market Winners

The annual percent change in the median rent of a one-bedroom in April, for markets that are the same or higher than last year.
Source: Zumper; Better Dwelling.

San Francisco, Seattle, and New York Amongst The Biggest Drops

The Bay Area represented the three biggest declines in one-bedroom rental prices. San Francisco made the biggest drop, with the median price reaching $2,600 per month in April, down 24.6% from a year before. Outside of the Bay Area, Seattle landed the fourth spot with the median rent reaching $1,500, down 16.20% over the same period. 

U.S. One-Bedroom Rental Market Losers

The annual percent change in the median rent of a one-bedroom in April, for markets with lower prices than last year.
Source: Zumper; Better Dwelling.

Over on the East Coast, Boston and New York follow with large drops. Boston’s median one-bedroom rent fell to $2,100 in April, down 16.0% from a year before. New York’s median rent fell to $2,480, down 15.9% over the same period. 

Expensive cities like San Francisco and New York had the rug pulled out from under them, as people fled during the pandemic. The million dollar question is, do these trends reverse once the economy reopens? Or have people had a taste of small town living, and will be looking for employers who feel the same way.

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One Comment


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  • Leftover 3 years ago

    Sad to say, but Seattle and San Francisco have among the worst homeless problems in the entire USA.

    People won’t pay to live in squalor. No surprise that rents are falling. Vancouver isn’t much different.

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