Apartment Rent Report Real Estate News

The National Average Rent Declined for the First Time in Two Years, Dipping to $1,471

Key takeaways:

  • The national average rent went up by 3.2% in the past year but dipped by 0.1% month-over-month, reaching $1,471 in September according to data from Yardi Matrix.
  • Apartment rates in a majority of small and large cities registered either minor decreases or stagnated. 
  • In more than half of the nation’s largest renter hubs rent prices waned since August. 

The first monthly decline in over two years brings the U.S. average rent down to $1,471

As part of a seasonal respite, the national average rent decreased for the first time since February 2017, dipping by –0.1% ($1) from last month to $1,471. The decrease might seem insignificant, but coupled with the slowest year-over-year hike in the past 13 months, 3.2% ($45), it points to a slight wind-down in rent prices in the context of a more volatile financial climate, according to Yardi Matrix.


Since last month, apartment rents saw minor declines in more than half of the cities we analyzed. Small and large cities lead the trend, with prices dropping in 59% of small cities and 56% of large cities, while 42% of mid-sized cities saw their rates dwindle in September.

Provo, UT rents decreased the most in the past month (-2.2%) followed by North Charleston, SC (-1.5%), energy boomtown Midland, TX (-1.5%), Bay Area tech hub Santa Clara (-1.3%), and Portland (-1.2%).  Meanwhile, California and New York saw the most substantial upticks since last month, with Syracuse (2.2%), Moreno Valley, CA (2.1%), Manhattan (1.5%), Torrance, CA (1.4%), and Los Angeles (1.2%) leading the pack.

Check out the interactive map below to find out more about average rent prices in small, mid-sized, and large U.S. cities

Apartment prices in more than half of the largest renter hubs dipped since August

65% of mega-hubs have rents below the national average, while 35% have rates above. At the same time, 55% of the largest renter hotspots saw apartment rents decrease since August, by as little as -0.1% in Tampa ($1,320), Charlotte ($1,243) and Jacksonville ($1,091), and as much as +0.5% in Houston ($1,101).

Indianapolis apartments cost $878 on average in September (after a 0.2% uptick from the prior month), the most affordable for renters living in the nation’s largest renting cities. Columbus is the second most affordable, with a $947 monthly rate (up by 0.3% since August). San Antonio ($1,045) offers the third most affordable apartments, where prices have also seen a slim monthly dip of -0.2%. Meanwhile, Manhattan continues its reign as the priciest renter hub in the nation, with its average rent reaching $4,336 in September (a hefty 1.5% increase compared to the prior month). Los Angeles apartments go for $2,556 per month (up a solid 1.2% since August), while Washington, D.C. apartments ($2,232) trail behind, after a 0.2% uptick since August.

Large cities in the New York area and the Bay Area show contrasting rent trends

Rents decreased in 3 of the nation’s 5 priciest large cities since August, and only New York hubs saw increases since last month. While rents in the Bay Area waned, by -0.1% in San Francisco ($3,703) and -1.1% in San Jose ($2,762), the average rents in Manhattan and Brooklyn ($2,956) shot up by 1.5% and 0.5% month-over-month, respectively. Boston ($3,505) rates also went down by -1.1% since August.

The picture looks different in the top 5 most affordable large cities. The average price in Oklahoma City, the cheapest in the category, decreased by a slight -0.1% over the month, reaching $774. However, rates in the rest of these cities all saw upticks, from 0.2% in Indianapolis ($878) to 0.5% in El Paso ($781) and Memphis ($811). The average price in Columbus ($947), the last on the list of cheapest large cities, saw a slight 0.3% increase.

Average apartment rents are most stable in mid-sized cities

In both the priciest and the cheapest mid-sized cities, rents showed more stability than in any other category, fluctuating by less than 1% since last month. Oakland’s ($2,953) 0.5% monthly rent increase keeps it at the top of the list of most expensive mid-sized cities for renters. While apartment rents in Long Beach ($2,073) have remained stable, Santa Ana ($1,951) is inching closer to the $2,000 mark. Anaheim ($1,827) follows the two after a 0.6% increase, and Miami ($1,705) closes the ranking.

Wichita, KS apartments ($657) are the cheapest to rent regardless of size category. Meanwhile, Tulsa’s $698 average takes second place, while Tucson, AZ ($879), Albuquerque, NM ($898), and Lexington, KY ($916) fill the rest of the podium after their rents declined slightly.

See the complete list of cities at the end of this report

Apartment prices in the most affordable small cities are all in the $700s

Rents decreased slightly in all of the priciest small cities for renters. Apartment prices in the most expensive small city, San Mateo, CA ($3,323), inched downwards by -0.5% in the past month. Runner-up Cambridge’s average also decreased by -0.6% since August to $3,224. Apartments in Sunnyvale, CA ($3,023) are -0.9% less expensive compared to the previous month, and apartments in Jersey City by -0.2% ($2,950). Silicon Valley nexus Santa Clara, the fifth most expensive in the category, saw the most significant decline, with its average rent shrinking by -1.3% to $2,931.

The most affordable small cities for renters all posted rates in the $700s. After a -0.8% decrease, the average price in Brownsville, TX, the cheapest town to rent in, reached $721. Though Toledo, OH apartment rents went up by 0.7%, it has the second-lowest rents in the category. Amarillo, TX ($741), comes in third with no changes since the previous month, while Killeen, TX ($751), and Independence, MO ($756) take up the fourth and fifth spots in the top 5 cheapest small cities for renters.

2-bedroom apartments are by far the most popular among renters

Traffic data from RENTCafé.com shows 2-bedroom apartments are the most popular among renters searching for new homes, making up 42% of searches on the website. The second most popular units have one-bedroom floor plans (30%). 3-bedroom apartments (15%) follow in popularity, while renters show the least interest in studios (12%).

Check the average rent price in your city by using this interactive table:

Check out the rent report for your area:

Methodology:

RENTCafe.com is a nationwide apartment search website that enables renters to easily find apartments and houses for rent throughout the United States.

To compile this report, RENTCafe’s research team analyzed rent data across the 260 largest cities in the US.  The data on average rents comes directly from competitively-rented (market-rate) large-scale multifamily properties (50+ units in size), via telephone survey. The data is compiled and reported by our sister company Yardi Matrix, a business development and asset management tool for brokers, sponsors, banks and equity sources underwriting investments in the multifamily, office, industrial and self-storage sectors. Fully-affordable properties are not included in the survey and are not reported in rental rate averages. The national average rent includes over 133 markets across the U.S., including any that have been recently released, as reported by Yardi Matrix. RENTCafe compiles this report at the city level, unlike Yardi Matrix who prepares reports at the market level. The national rent value is derived from the core 60 markets with years of tracked data that makes a consistent basket of data.

Fair use and redistribution

We encourage you and freely grant you permission to reuse, host, or repost the images in this article. When doing so, we only ask that you kindly attribute the authors by linking to RENTCafe.com or this page, so that your readers can learn more about this project, the research behind it and its methodology. For more in-depth, customized data, please contact us at media@rentcafe.com.


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About the author

Irina Lupa

Irina Lupa is a creative writer for RENTCafé, where she covers market trends and topics relevant to today’s renters. Before developing a passion for real estate, she focused on fields ranging from automotive electronics to digital business development, digging into tech news from a critical perspective. Irina holds a B.S. in Journalism and Mass Communication. You can connect with Irina via email.

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