March Rental Activity Report: Minneapolis Leads the Chart; Alabama City Makes Bold Entry Into Top 10

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  • Minneapolis is renters’ first pick for apartment-hunting for the fourth month in a row.  
  • Overland Park, KS, overtakes Atlanta for second place this month.
  • Renters show preference for cities on the West Coast when it comes to apartment hunting.
  • Montgomery, AL, makes a stunning debut, jumping 134 positions to break into the top 10 most sought-after cities.

As we move further into the year and spring takes hold, renters continue to actively seek out new options that fit their needs. So, which cities stand out as hotspots for rental activity by capturing the attention of apartment-hunters?

Banner detailing the methodology used in the report.

March sees Minneapolis keeping its hold on the top spot as the most in-demand city among renters perusing RentCafe.com for apartments. Specifically, the engagement with listings in Minneapolis remains high, showing that apartment-seekers are just as keen on finding rentals here as they were last month. Hot on its heels is Overland Park, KS, jumping four spots to secure the second position and nudging Atlanta down to third place.

Coming in fourth is Queens, NY, which experiences a similar fall of one spot. Then, Little Rock, AR, rounds out the top five after climbing eight spots since February. These cities are garnering significant attention on RentCafe.com with renters viewing listings in large numbers, favoriting properties, and customizing searches amidst limited availability.

map of the top 10 cities for rental activity in March

Nevertheless, there are slight shifts in renter preferences for certain regions in March: The West still dominates the top 30 with 13 entries, followed closely by the South with eight positions. The Midwest is not far behind with seven cities, and the Northeast stakes its claim with only two cities.

For an in-depth look at the regional trends in the early months of 2024, have a look at our January and February Rental Activity Reports.

A closer analysis of the regional rankings reveals an emerging pattern: The Midwest has loosened its grip on the top five, despite Minneapolis leading the pack and Overland Park, KS, coming in second. As a result, this change has made room for the South, represented by Atlanta in third place and Little Rock, AR, in the fifth spot. Beyond the top five, cities like Tacoma, WA, (#6) and Montgomery, AL, (#7) are garnering significant renter interest, as are Washington, D.C. (#8); Orlando, FL (#9); and Detroit, MI (#10).

Minneapolis is the top pick for apartment hunters in March

1. Minneapolis

Taking home the gold for the fourth month in a row, Minneapolis claims the #1 spot in March thanks to a remarkable 216% surge in page views and a 159% increase in saved searches compared to a year ago. Notably, this surge in interest is mirrored by a 19% year-over-year drop in available apartment listings on RentCafe.com, catapulting the city to the peak of our rankings.

A panoramic view of Minneapolis, showcasing a mixture of residential and commercial high-rise buildings under a clear blue sky.

Overall, despite a 28% drop in favorited listings, it’s evident that the appetite for rental properties in this Midwestern gem continues to grow among both locals and newcomers.

2. Overland Park, KS

Overland Park, KS, has risen to the second spot this month, after climbing four positions since February. This thriving suburb’s appeal to renters is evidenced by a 282% uptick in the number of page views for listings here. Moreover, this heightened interest is further supported by the 109% rise in favorited listings and the 19% boost in saved searches on RentCafe.com.

An aerial view of Overland Park, KS, on a sunny day, highlighting a variety of buildings including a large school or community center in the foreground with a geometric roof structure.

While the 7% increase in apartment availability might not make Overland Park, KS, as competitive a market as others on our list, it’s clear that the suburb is still a hit with renters.

3. Atlanta

Dropping one spot since February, Atlanta experienced a subtle change in renter activity during March but remains a top contender. This is demonstrated by a 6% uptick in page views compared one year ago.

A panoramic cityscape featuring Atlanta's distinctive skyline under a dynamic sky with fluffy clouds.

In particular, renters from Miami, New York and Chicago continue to show great interest in the city, showing that Atlanta’s Southern allure continues to captivate locals and newcomers alike.

4. Queens, NY

Sliding into fourth place in March, apartments in Queens, NY, are making waves with an impressive 279% increase in page views alongside a 104% uptick in favorited listings. Despite a slight increase of 1% and 6% in apartment availability and saved searches, respectively, this New York borough continues to be a high-demand market in 2024.

An expansive aerial view of New York City's iconic skyline with the Empire State Building at the center, taken from a high vantage point.

5. Little Rock, AR

Rising 18 spots, Little Rock, AR, rounds out the top five this March, even with slight decreases in favorited listings (down 21%) and saved searches (down 50%) for apartments on RentCafe.com. Even so, the impressive 50% decrease in apartment availability compared to one year prior underscores a surging interest from renters, signaling that competition here is fierce.

A serene dusk view over a riverfront in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Additionally, Little Rock has witnessed a significant 137% uptick in page views, particularly from renters hailing from Dallas; Chicago; and Kansas City, MO.

6. Tacoma, WA

Securing the sixth spot is Tacoma, WA, boasting a notable 196% increase in page views. Along with this spike in popularity, the number of favorited listings has risen by 9%, while saved searches dropped by 23%.

A picturesque view of Tacoma, Washington, with the majestic Mount Rainier in the backdrop, looming over the cityscape.

Meanwhile, the 20% drop in available listings in Tacoma indicates that renters are eager to grab the available rentals quickly.

7. Montgomery, AL

Montgomery, AL, makes a dramatic entrance at seventh place, following a staggering 134-spot jump. In this case, the ascent was fueled by a 296% increase in page views coupled with a 27% drop in apartment availability compared to the previous year.

An aerial view of downtown Montgomery, Alabama, showcasing a blend of green spaces, historical and modern architecture under a bright blue sky.

Even with notable decreases in favorited listings (down 93%) and saved searches (down 53%), the escalating interest in apartments in Montgomery is evident. This could be attributed to Montgomery's low cost of living (12% below the national average), as well as strong employment growth in recent years.

8. Washington, D.C.

Landing in the eighth spot this March is Washington, D.C., after climbing two positions since the previous month. Despite a 41% uptick in page views compared to a year ago, the number of favorited listings here decreased by 27% and saved searches shrunk by 31%. This could indicate that apartment-hunters are turning their attention to the Western side of the country.

This image presents an expansive aerial view over the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

Still, with an 8% drop in apartment availability on RentCafe.com, it looks like renters are still considering their options within the city.

9. Orlando, FL

Orlando, FL, now holds the ninth position, having descended one spot since February. Despite a modest 21% increase in page views, there remains considerable interest among renters for apartments in the city.

A vibrant sunset over Orlando, Florida, as seen from across a calm lake that reflects the cityscape.

What’s more, even with a 62% decrease in the number of favorited apartments and a 38% drop in saved searches, the 19% decline in apartment availability on RentCafe.com indicates a robust appeal for apartments in Orlando.

10. Detroit

Rounding out the top 10, Detroit has fallen six positions, while simultaneously having experienced a significant 204% surge in attention this March and boasting a remarkable 223% rise in saved searches. However, the 27% drop in favorited listings may have contributed to a decline in the city's appeal to renters.

An aerial view of downtown Detroit, Michigan, during the early evening, with the last rays of the sun casting a warm glow on the buildings.

That said, Detroit's rental market continues to attract renter interest, as evidenced by a 12% decrease in apartment availability on RentCafe.com.

Western cities maintain their status as the most desirable for renters in March

Western cities continue to dominate with 13 cities boasting the most activity in March. The South follows closely with eight entries, while the Midwest has seven cities in the ranking. The Northeast wraps up the list with the remaining two cities, after losing one spot since February. Notably, the South and Midwest have the most cities in the top 10, with five and three entries, respectively.

As the overall #1, Minneapolis also claims the top spot in the Midwest this month, followed by Overland Park, KS, at #2 and Detroit at #10. Other sought-after spots in the Midwest include Cleveland at #13; Cincinnati at #15; and Indianapolis at #23 with a modest, 12-spot climb. Chicago also ranks 28th, completing the Midwest's presence in the top 30 in March.

Meanwhile, Tacoma, WA, steals the spotlight in the West after climbing 18 positions to reach sixth place. The top 30 for March also showcases plenty of other sought-after Western rental destinations, including Chandler, AZ, (#12) and North Las Vegas, NV (#14).

Further down the coast, Sacramento, CA, secures the 16th spot, while Portland, OR, drops one spot to #19. San Jose, CA, also rises 10 positions to land at #20, while Peoria, AZ, surges up 47 spots to secure the 21st spot. Similarly, Riverside, CA, climbs 30 positions to reach #22; Spokane, WA, lands at #24; Reno, NV, at #25; and Denver at #27. Finally, Aurora, CO, secures the 29th spot, while Albuquerque, NM, rounds out the top 30.

Notably, there is a slight decrease in the number of Southern cities in the top 30 for March compared to the previous month. In this region, Atlanta remains the highest-ranking Southern city for apartment-hunters, sitting comfortably in third place, while Little Rock, AR, climbs eight positions to round out the top five. Completing the top 10 are Montgomery, AL (#7); Washington, D.C. (#8); and Orlando, FL (#9).

Then, Winston-Salem, NC, ranks 17th, followed by Richmond, VA, in 18th place. Birmingham, AL, follows in Montgomery’s footsteps by climbing 58 positions to land at #26 — the second-highest surge from February among the top 30 cities.

Lastly, the most popular renting destinations in the Northeast in March are Queens, NY, at #4, and Philadelphia at #11. It's worth noting that both cities saw impressive surges in page views compared to one year prior, indicating renters' ongoing interest in these Northeastern locations.

Meet the newcomers: The West Coast sunshine beckons renters in March

March brings eight new cities into our top 30 most sought-after renting spots, primarily from the West and South. Notably, Montgomery, AL, makes its debut with an impressive 134-position jump fueled by a surge in page views to land in the top 10 at #7.

Not to be outdone is another gem from the South — Birmingham, AL — which secures the 26th spot with a remarkable leap of 58 positions.

In the West, Chandler, AZ, also made a significant climb of 20 positions to #12 due to heightened interest from renters, as evidenced by the 31% decrease in available listings on RentCafe.com.

Similarly, joining our top 30 for the first time or making a comeback are other Western cities like Peoria, AZ, which rose 47 positions since last month; as well as Riverside, CA; Aurora, CO; and Albuquerque, NM.

Finally, from the Midwest, Indianapolis makes its return in March, with listings experiencing a significant decrease in availability on RentCafe.com. This helped Indy secure a spot among the top 30 most sought-after renting spots.

Methodology

RentCafe.com is a nationwide apartment search website that enables renters to easily find apartments and houses for rent throughout the U.S.

To compile this report, the research team analyzed RentCafe.com’s rental listing data across the 150 largest cities by population in the contiguous U.S. and with a relevant listing inventory sample. The regions are defined according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The cities were ranked based on a city-level rental activity score. Full points were awarded to the most desirable city for a particular metric, while the zero-point level was set slightly below the worst city’s value. Cities that lacked sufficient information regarding specific metrics were awarded zero points.

Beginning in August 2023, the city that obtained the highest total score was awarded 100 points and all total scores of the following cities were adjusted accordingly.

To calculate each city’s score, we ranked them according to four metrics and their averages as of the most current month in 2024 versus the same month in 2023.

1. Availability Rate (Maximum score: 40 points)

The availability rate score was calculated by dividing the total vacant units at the city level for the most recent month by the total units and a year-over-year comparison of the same. The lowest rate received maximum points.

2. Page Views (Maximum score: 30 points)

The page views score was calculated as the total number of monthly page views for the most recent month at the city level divided by the total renter population in the city and a year-over-year comparison of the same. Page views are defined as a unique user interaction on a specific page in a 30-minute window.

3. Favorites (Maximum score: 15 points)

The favorites score was calculated as the total monthly rental listings added to favorites at the city level for the most current month divided by the total renter population in the city and a year-over-year comparison of the same. A favorite is defined as a rental listing saved to favorites by a website visitor.

4. Saved Searches (Maximum score: 15 points)

The saved searches score was calculated as the total number of monthly saved searches at the city level for the most current month divided by the total renter population in the city and a year-over-year comparison of the same. A saved search is defined as a filtered/personalized apartment search saved by a website visitor.

Fair use and redistribution

We encourage you and freely grant you permission to reuse, host, or repost the research, graphics, and images presented in this article. When doing so, we ask that you credit our research 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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Adina Dragos is a creative writer at RentCafe, with a passion for reading, research and cats. As a fellow renter, Adina's articles cover various topics such as the state of the real estate market or how creative interior design choices improve the experience of living in a rental. She also enjoys exploring subjects like urbanization, green living and historical buildings. Adina has a BA in English and Norwegian Language and Literature.

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