The 2019 National Apartment Rent Price Analysis

The analysis compares lease prices for studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments in a variety of cities and across the four major regions of the U.S., highlighting which areas are trending up and which areas are becoming more affordable.

This data was made available to assist renters as they consider moves to different parts of the nation.

Outline

  1. National trends
  2. Analysis of regional differences
  3. Additional bedroom costs
  4. City rent increases and decreases
  5. Interesting stats and takeaways
  6. The top 100
  7. Methodology

National trends

  • The average rent for a studio apartment in America’s 100 largest cities rose 6.7 percent to $1,179.
  • A one-bedroom unit climbed at a more moderate 4.3 percent to an average of $1,362.
  • Average two-bedroom rentals saw similar increases, leasing for $1,733, up 4.2 percent year-to-year.

National average apartment rent

Analysis of rent increases and decreases by region1

Viewing the data from a region-by-region perspective revealed several interesting trends. While average rents in the Northeast are clearly higher than any other region in the country, rents rose in all U.S. regions and among all three apartment types in 2018, from as little as 1.6 percent to nearly 10 percent.

average 2018 rents by U.S. census regions

Rental pricing increase and decrease trends in the Northeast

In the Northeast, the year-to-year increase in one- and two-bedroom apartments was up 6.1 percent and 5.6 percent, respectively, which was1.7 percent and 1.4 percent above the national average. While studio rent was up 5.1 percent over 2017, that figure was actually 1.6 percent below the U.S. as a whole.

  • Rent for all bedroom types was highest in New York, from $6,078 on average for a two-bedroom down to $3,257 for a studio.
  • The Midwest-adjacent cities of Buffalo, NY ($739 for a studio, $1,222 for a one-bedroom) and Pittsburgh ($1,573 for a two-bedroom) had the lowest average rents in the region.

Interestingly, New Jersey suburbs had the highest rates of both increase and decrease in the region.

  • Newark, NJ was up the most in every category, up 18.7 percent for a studio, 17.5 percent for a one-bedroom and 16.4 percent for a two-bedroom.
  • On the other hand, Jersey City, NJ had the greatest decline in each, down 2.0 percent, 6.1 percent and 0.1 percent.

Rental pricing increase and decrease trends in the Midwest

While rents in the Midwest were significantly below national averages, the region still saw significant year-to-year increases, with studios up 3.9 percent, one-bedrooms up 4.9 percent and two-bedrooms up 4.7 percent.

  • Chicago, the largest city in the region, had the highest overall prices with a studio renting for $1,426, a one-bedroom for $1,918 and a two-bedroom for $2,795.
  • Toledo, OH had the lowest average rent for all three categories: $489, $621 and $823, respectively.
  • Milwaukee had the Midwest’s highest increase in studio prices (up 13.3 percent), while Des Moines, IA (up 17.0 percent), was highest for one-bedrooms. And even with the lowest average rent for two-bedroom apartments in the nation ($823), Toledo came in with the highest regional increase from last year (15.9 percent).
  • Population-starved Detroit had the biggest decrease in rents for both studios (down 5.0 percent) and two-bedrooms (down 2.5 percent).

Rental pricing increase and decrease trends in the South

The South had by far the highest increase in any single category in the nation, with an average studio up 9.2 percent year-to-year. However, the region had the smallest average increases for both one and two bedrooms, up 2.4 percent and 1.6 percent.

  • Miami had the highest average rents in the Southeast in all apartment types, $1,583 for a studio, $1,953 for a one-bedroom and $2,345 for a two-bedroom.
  • Tulsa, OK had the lowest average for both a studio ($484 a month, the lowest rent of any city in the nation) and one-bedroom apartments ($648 a month).
  • El Paso, TX had the most affordable two-bedrooms ($837 a month).
  • Arlington, TX easily had the highest increase of any city in any region in any category, with a whopping 40.6 percent increase in average studio apartment rents year-to-year.
  • Texas dominated the South generally, with Plano, TX (25.3 percent) having the highest increase for two-bedrooms and Corpus Christi, TX (-15.9 percent) seeing the largest decrease for studios.

Rental pricing increase and decrease trends in the West

Rents in the West increased significantly among all apartment types. The region’s 6.2 percent year-to-year increase for two-bedrooms topped the rest of the nation, plus its 6.0 percent rise in studios was bested by just the South, and a 5.6 percent bump in single bedroom units was behind only the Northeast.

  • San Francisco dominated the West with the highest average rents in all apartment types: $3,252 for a studio, $3,765 for a one-bedroom and $5,215 for two-bedrooms.
  • The lowest average in the West for each size — $582 for studios, $678 for one-bedroom and $872 for two-bedroom — was Tucson, AZ.
  • Anchorage, AK, the lowest-density city in America, had the steepest increases in rent in the region from last year for both studio apartments (26.8 percent) and two-bedrooms (23.4 percent).
  • San Diego was tops in increases for one-bedrooms (17.0 percent).
  • Henderson, NV (-10.6 percent in studio prices); Portland, OR (-4.4 percent in one-bedroom prices) and Stockton, CA (-5.7 percent in two-bedroom prices) had the biggest regional decreases in each of the three sizes.

How much adding another bedroom will cost

Rental trends aren’t all about moving from city to city, region to region. As an individual renter’s needs change — significant others move in, families expand, a home office is needed — many look to upgrade from a studio to a one-bedroom to a two. How much more would it cost you to add a bedroom?

Percent increase by additional bedroom

Regional analysis of increases to upgrade from a studio unit to a one-bedroom

Nationwide, adding a bedroom to your studio apartment will result in an average increase of 15.6 percent, which translates to an additional $191 per month average escalation.

  • By far, the Northeast will cost you the most, an additional $465 on average to move up from a studio to a one-bedroom, a 26.4 percent jump.
  • The Midwest was slightly better, with a similar 25.9 percent rise to add that first bedroom — but with rents being lower overall, that’s just an increase of $229.
  • In the South, it will cost you an additional $195, an increase of 14.4 percent to go from a studio to a one-bedroom.
  • In the West, it’s an affordable rise of 7.6 percent, just an extra $76.

Regional analysis of increases to upgrade from one bedroom to two

However, to upgrade from a one-bedroom to a two, the increase in prices jump more steeply. Nationally, it will cost you an extra $370 on average to upgrade, or 27.2 percent more a month.

  • Once again, the Northeast is the most cost-impactful, as adding a second bedroom will cause a rise of 35.4 percent, adding an average of $789 to your rent.
  • An average two-bedroom in the Midwest rents for $317 more than a one-bedroom, a 28.4 percent increase.
  • In the West, it’s up 25.5 percent to $397 more a month.
  • A rise of 24.8 percent is just a reasonable $270 bump to upgrade in the South.

Extremes and outliers from expected patterns

Not every city follows an anticipated pattern. Due mostly to demand and availability, some areas don’t produce results as expected.

  • New York is the most costly upgrade all around, far above national averages even for its size. A move to a one-bedroom apartment runs $907 more than a studio, and it would cost an additional $1,913 to jump from a one- to a two-bedroom unit.
  • In Fort Worth, TX a one-bedroom apartment actually averages $157 less than a studio, and a two-bedroom is only $75 more a month than a studio. The city saw a 24 percent increase in year-to-year rates for studios, while one- and two-bedrooms fell.
  • Virginia Beach, VA; Nashville, TN and Houston saw similar trends, with studio rents increasing while other categories decreased, and one-bedroom rates available at lower prices than studio units.
  • In Honolulu, the cost to move from a one-bedroom unit to a two is $174 less a month. In fact, a two-bedroom in The Big Pineapple averages $152 less than a studio. Incredibly, this is despite an 8 percent year-to-year decrease in studio rates while one-and two-bedrooms rose.

Cities with the greatest rent increases and decreases

top cities in the U.S. by Rent increase and decrease
Price changes reflect the cost of a one-bedroom apartment in 2018.

The cities in the top 100 with the largest year-to-year increases tend to be in the southern half of the U.S., which matches most domestic migration patterns.

These are mostly cities with a rising population diversity as well as an economy growing in technology and digital sectors. Cities where rent is rising the most are also often emerging satellite cities of a larger metropolitan area or share a region with a twin city.

Cities with the steepest increases in studio rent

RankCity, StateAverage Studio Rent1-Year Change
1Arlington, TX$95140.6%
2St. Petersburg, FL$1,203 37.2%
3Anchorage, AK$98326.8%
4Jacksonville, FL$78726.4%
5San Antonio, TX$89625.9%

Cities with the steepest increases in one-bedroom rent

RankCity, StateAverage 1-BR Rent1-Year Change
1Newark, NJ$1,692 17.5%
2San Diego, CA$2,300 17.0%
3Des Moines, IA$1,016 17.0%
4Anchorage, AK$1,150 16.1%
5Boise, ID$1,062 14.4%

Cities with the steepest increases in two-bedroom rent

RankCity, StateAverage 2-BR Rent1-Year Change
1Plano, TX$1,808 25.3%
2Anchorage, AK$1,359 23.4%
3Boise, ID$1,344 20.2%
4Oakland, CA$4,222 18.0%
5San Diego, CA$2,823 16.6%

The greatest year-to-year decreases

On the flip side, the cities with the largest year-to-year decreases are generally ones with fluctuating economies, dependent on seasonal tourism or have had a population change after a natural disaster.

Cities with the steepest decreases in studio rent

RankCity, StateAverage Studio Rent1-Year Change
1Corpus Christi, TX$668-15.9%
2Henderson, NV$1,008 -10.6%
3Honolulu, HI$1,850 -8.0%
4Aurora, CO$1,072 -5.8%
5Baton Rouge, LA$741-5.5%

Cities with the steepest decreases in one-bedroom rent

RankCity, StateAverage 1-BR Rent1-Year Change
1New Orleans, LA$1,418 -11.4%
2Jersey City, NJ$2,596 -6.1%
3Madison, WI$1,235 -5.1%
4Corpus Christi, TX$843-4.4%
5Portland, OR$1,644 -4.4%

Cities with the steepest decreases in two-bedroom rent

RankCity, StateAverage 2-BR Rent1-Year Change
1New Orleans, LA$1,968 -17.9%
2Laredo, TX$956-11.6%
3Houston, TX$1,616 -8.4%
4Nashville, TN$1,729 -8.1%
5Virginia Beach, VA$1,197 -6.3%

Rental cost and trend outliers

Comparing the top and bottom cities in each category shows some demographic and psychographic patterns.

  • Arlington, TX; Wichita, KS; and Plano, TX — two of which are Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex secondary cities — have become players in Plains tech boom and are a mix of families and increasingly-younger populations attracted to new features like foodie cultures, brewpubs and trendy downtowns.
  • On the other hand, New Orleans and Corpus Christi have struggled to recover from population decreases suffered after Hurricanes Katrina and Harvey, respectively.
  • Houston had the sixth-highest year-to-year decrease in one-bedroom rent at -8.4 percent and the third-highest decrease for two-bedrooms at -3.7 percent. However, studio apartment prices increased 3.4 percent. This can be attributed in part to family unit migration as part of the population decrease after Hurricane Harvey.
  • Not all cities at the high end of rental costs are large metropolises. Jersey City, NJ is only the 75th largest in the nation, but its proximity to New York keeps rents high. The New Jersey municipality has the sixth-highest rent in the U.S. in all three categories ($2,258 for a studio, $2,596 for a one-bedroom and a two-bedroom for $3,520).
  • Similarly, three California cities — Fremont, CA ($2,180 for a one-bedroom) in the Bay Area and the Los Angeles satellite cities of Irvine, CA ($1,981 for a studio) and Long Beach, CA ($2,869 for a two-bedroom) — appear in the top 10 highest rents in at least one apartment type despite their modest sizes.

Interesting stats and takeaways

Diving deeper into the data, interesting trends emerge among the large-to-midsize U.S. cities that experienced the largest population increases and decreases in 2018.

Rental rates compared to population change2

A review of the nation’s cities with the steepest population gains and most precipitous population declines can reveal some patterns in the increases and decreases in year-to-year rent.

Rental rates and trends in the cities with the steepest population increases

RankCity, StatePopulation ChangeAverage Studio Rent1-Year Studio ChangeAverage 1-BR Rent1-Year 1-BR ChangeAverage 2-BR Rent1-Year 2-BR Change
1Irvine, CA3.59%$1,981 2.3%$2,116 2.1%$2,605 -0.3%
2Seattle, WA2.79%$1,595 3.3%$2,150 1.5%$3,117 8.0%
3Miami, FL2.65%$1,583 11.7%$1,953 2.2%$2,345 1.1%
4Henderson, NV2.62%$1,008 -10.6%$1,085 2.9%$1,379 4.0%
5Scottsdale, AZ2.60%$1,046 1.8%$1,478 12.7%$1,894 15.2%

Rental rates and trends in the cities with the steepest population decreases

RankCity, StatePopulation ChangeAverage Studio Rent1-Year Studio ChangeAverage 1-BR Rent1-Year 1-BR ChangeAverage 2-BR Rent1-Year 2-BR Change
1St. Louis, MO-1.14%$854-2.9%$1,051 2.2%$1,364 3.6%
2Baltimore, MD-1.12%$1,273 2.6%$1,491 4.6%$1,947 7.5%
3Milwaukee, WI-0.74%$1,173 13.3%$1,353 1.3%$1,885 5.8%
4Buffalo, NY-0.57%$739-3.7%$1,222 3.6%$1,640 6.0%
5Detroit, MI-0.53%$790-5.0%$1,270 2.5%$1,416 -5.6%

Biggest differences between nearby cities

Many metropolitan areas in the U.S. contain more than one dominant city ranked in the top 100 for population. While places like Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN may be twin cities, for example, their rental rates and year-to-year increases and decreases can vary wildly. Here is a comparison of data for some of the nation’s most well-known neighboring cities.

Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area

City, StateAverage Studio Rent1-Year Studio ChangeAverage 1-BR Rent1-Year 1-BR ChangeAverage 2-BR Rent1-Year 2-BR Change  
Washington, D.C.$1,877 3.4%$2,418 7.1%$3,364 7.3%
Baltimore, MD$1,273 2.6%$1,491 4.6%$1,947 7.5%

New York metropolitan area

City, StateAverage Studio Rent1-Year Studio ChangeAverage 1-BR Rent1-Year 1-BR ChangeAverage 2-BR Rent1-Year 2-BR Change  
New York, NY$3,257 5.8%$4,164 7.9%$6,078 2.0%
Newark, NJ$1,366 18.7%$1,692 17.5%$2,070 16.4%
Jersey City, NJ$2,258 -2.0%$2,596 -6.1%$3,520 -0.1%

Twin Cities

City, StateAverage Studio Rent1-Year Studio ChangeAverage 1-BR Rent1-Year 1-BR ChangeAverage 2-BR Rent1-Year 2-BR Change  
Minneapolis, MN$1,208 7.8%$1,498 4.0%$2,154 -0.6%
St. Paul, MN$1,109 6.5%$1,289 1.4%$1,667 4.8%

Tampa Bay area

City, StateAverage Studio Rent1-Year Studio ChangeAverage 1-BR Rent1-Year 1-BR ChangeAverage 2-BR Rent1-Year 2-BR Change  
Tampa, FL$1,208 3.5%$1,225 2.9%$1,482 -1.4%
St. Petersburg, FL$1,203 37.2%$1,159 3.1%$1,409 -0.4%

Research Triangle region

City, StateAverage Studio Rent1-Year Studio ChangeAverage 1-BR Rent1-Year 1-BR ChangeAverage 2-BR Rent1-Year 2-BR Change  
Raleigh, NC$1,177 14.8%$1,098 2.6%$1,365 0.0%
Durham, NC$1,220 -2.2%$1,181 2.9%$1,427 -0.4%

Dallas Metroplex

City, StateAverage Studio Rent1-Year Studio ChangeAverage 1-BR Rent1-Year 1-BR ChangeAverage 2-BR Rent1-Year 2-BR Change
Dallas, TX$1,170 6.1%$1,347 4.9%$1,977 6.1%
Fort Worth, TX$1,213 24.0%$1,056 -1.3%$1,287 -5.6%
Arlington, TX$95140.6%$9235.2%$1,213 6.7%
Irving, TX$1,120 4.5%$1,152 2.2%$1,455 -0.7%
Garland, TX$8933.4%$946-0.1%$1,240 3.3%
Plano, TX$1,1007.2%$1,23011.2%$1,80825.3%

Bay Area

City, StateAverage Studio Rent1-Year Studio ChangeAverage 1-BR Rent1-Year 1-BR ChangeAverage 2-BR Rent1-Year 2-BR Change  
San Francisco, CA$3,252 3.4%$3,765 4.0%$5,215 4.5%
Oakland, CA$2,688 2.3%$3,270 9.6%$4,222 18.0%
San Jose, CA$2,345 5.8%$2,585 4.8%$3,125 2.7%
Fremont, CA$1,763 3.8%$2,180 -0.3%$2,586 0.1%

Los Angeles metropolitan area

City, StateAverage Studio Rent1-Year Studio ChangeAverage 1-BR Rent1-Year 1-BR ChangeAverage 2-BR Rent1-Year 2-BR Change  
Los Angeles, CA$2,129 8.2%$2,728 5.7%$4,054 14.8%
Anaheim, CA$1,553 8.9%$1,699 -0.9%$2,094 -1.0%
Long Beach, CA$1,921 7.5%$2,084 -1.2%$2,869 -0.5%
Santa Ana, CA$1,393 -1.9%$1,653 3.2%$2,021 -0.2%
Irvine, CA$1,981 2.3%$2,116 2.1%$2,605 -0.3%

New York is just expensive

New York is far and away the most expensive city for each of the categories of apartment styles. So, for the price of an apartment in New York, how many apartments could you rent each month in the cities with the lowest average rents?

Unit TypeMost Expensive CityAverage RentCheapest CityAverage RentUnits for the Price of 1 in New York
StudioNew York, NY$3,257 Tulsa, OK$4846.73
1-BedroomNew York, NY$4,164 Toledo, OH$6216.71
2-BedroomNew York, NY$6,078 Toledo, OH$8237.39

The full list

The information above only scratches the surface of the data available to dive into from the full analysis. Below you’ll find the full breakdown of rental rates and year-to-year changes in the top 100 largest cities in the nation.

top cities in the U.S. by Rent increase and decrease

Methodology

Figures on rents, annual average changes and trends for one-bedroom, two-bedroom and studio apartments were compiled using multifamily rental property inventory in the nation’s 100 most populous cities from December 2017 to December 2018 on Apartment Guide and rent.com. Trend analysis was performed using data furnished by the U.S. Census Bureau, with specific sources cited at appropriate places in the text.

The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein does not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.

[1] The U.S. Census divides the country into four geographic regions: Northeast (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont); Midwest (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin); South (Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, District of Columbia and West Virginia) and West (Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Hawaii, Utah, Washington and Wyoming).

[2] Worldpopulationreview: US City Populations 2019

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