Rental Prices are Booming in Mid-Sized Cities

A view of a downtown street in Boise, Idaho, where rental costs are on the rise.

A view of a downtown street in Boise, Idaho, where rental costs are on the rise. iStock.com/peeterv

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

New estimates show how places like Boise, Idaho and Spokane, Washington have seen housing rents rise sharply during the pandemic. And the trend isn’t easing up.

Residential rent prices in mid-sized U.S. cities, particularly in the West, are surging even as major metro areas come back to life and people move on from remote work arrangements and return to offices.

That’s according to new estimates from the rental listing website Apartment List. Those figures also show that rent prices are rebounding in expensive coastal cities where they dropped sharply during the coronavirus pandemic. But prices in those places are still down. The report points out that in the mid-sized cities with booming rents, the past year didn’t spark the trend so much as add fuel to it.

“Many of these markets had been heating up prior to the pandemic,” the report says. “The pandemic and remote work spurred demand for the space and affordability that these cities offered, and in response, rent prices grew even as the surrounding economy struggled.”

It’s interesting data to consider for those wondering how quickly major cities will bounce back and to what extent the rise of telework, along with other factors that led people to move in the past year, will contribute to lasting growth in mid-sized cities. It also raises questions about the future of affordable housing in smaller markets that are becoming magnets for newcomers.

The report says pandemic-era declines in Apartment List’s national index of rent prices have now been erased and the report declares that “pandemic pricing is officially over.” For May, the index shows a 2.3% month-over-month gain in rental prices nationwide, the largest single-month increase Apartment List has recorded with its estimates, which date back to 2017.

Boise, Idaho is one of the cities that’s seen rent balloon the most since the pandemic began. The report says that, compared to March 2020, rents are up in Boise by 31% and that they jumped 6.6% last month alone. The report calls the monthly increase “staggering.” 

In Spokane, Washington, which is about 300 miles east of Seattle near the Idaho border, rent was up 22% last month compared to last March. In Fresno, California the increase was 17%. Virginia Beach, Virginia; Reno, Nevada; and Mesa, Glendale and Gilbert, Arizona (cities on the outskirts of Phoenix) all saw 15%-16% increases.

Meanwhile, nine of the 10 cities with the steepest declines in the past year have now seen growth in rental prices for four straight months, according to the analysis. But in some of those places, prices are still well below where they were when the virus outbreak began.

In San Francisco, rents were down 17% in May compared to March 2020, the estimates show. Rents had sunk there by around 25% to 30% in the December to February timeframe. 

Other major cities are seeing similar trends. In May, compared to last March, rents were down 12% in New York, 11% in Seattle, 9% in Washington, D.C., 6% in Boston and 5% in Minneapolis. Each of these cities saw prices rise by varying degrees since the winter months.

Highlighting San Francisco and Boise as an example, the report notes that the price gap between rent in pricey coastal cities and mid-sized markets, while still sizable, is narrowing. Last March, median rent for a two bedroom in San Francisco was $3,146. In Boise it was $929. Those prices have shifted now to $2,610 in and $1,229 respectively.

“Even as rents in San Francisco have rebounded in recent months, Boise has continued to grow even faster,” the report says. It adds: “Many of the mid-sized markets that have seen rents grow rapidly through the pandemic are showing that there’s still steam left in the current boom.” A full copy of the analysis can be found here.

Bill Lucia is a senior editor for Route Fifty and is based in Olympia, Washington.

FEATURED CASE STUDIES
Powered By The Atlas
Pacifica launches online portal for equitable access to ADU resources and affordable housing needs
Pacifica, CA, USA
San Francisco activates online portal to streamline ADU development and help combat housing crisis
San Francisco, CA, USA
Affordable Housing in Oregon Expanded Almost Overnight with Homesharing
Portland, OR, USA

NEXT STORY: State and Local Officials Push Back Against Calls to Redirect Federal Aid

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.