The Slowest Annual Rise in 18 Months Kick-Starts the Peak Rental Season as the May National Rent Reaches $1,442

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Key takeaways:

  • The U.S. average rent increased by 2.5% ($35) year over year and reached $1,442 in May 2019, up by 0.3% ($5) month over month, according to Yardi Matrix data.
  • The average rents in 64% of the 260 cities included in this report are below the national average, while 36% are above.
  • Average rent in Manhattan, NYC hit $4,200 in May, while average rent prices in Wichita, KS, the nation’s most affordable rental market, reached $647.

National apartment average rent May 2019

Apartment rents increase by 2.5% as the prime rental season kicks off

Average rent prices went up by 2.5% year-over-year in May and reached a $1,442 monthly average. Nationally, rents maintain a strong month-over-month growth, but the annual increase is the slowest we’ve seen in 18 months. Residential rents are rising steadily across cities, with the third month in a row sprouting a 0.3% month-over-month jump. Compared to last May, renters pay $35 more on average, according to the latest Yardi Matrix data on apartment market trends.

Apartment rents run the gamut across the country. Of the 260 largest cities analyzed in our report, 64% have average rents below, while 36% have average rents above $1,442. Averaging $647, rent in Wichita, KS keeps at it as the most affordable in the U.S., followed by Tulsa, OK with $691 and Toledo, OH with $715. High-cost markets like Manhattan ($4,200) and San Francisco ($3,648) continue to display the highest average rents in the country.

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

Rents in 14 of the 20 largest U.S. renter hubs are below the $1,442 national average

Most of the largest renter hubs analyzed are priced under the national average, while 6 of them are priced above $1,442. Renting in the most budget-friendly large renter hub, Indianapolis, IN, is now $863 after a $1 m-o-m increase. The second-most affordable renter hub is Columbus, OH ($925), followed by San Antonio, TX ($1,029) and two of the most in-demand cities to rent in: Phoenix, AZ ($1,057) and Las Vegas, NV ($1,066).

Gateway cities like LA ($2,478), Washington, DC ($2,149) and Seattle, WA ($2,087) follow Manhattan ($4,200) as the most expensive renter hubs in the United States. Under the $2,000 mark, but still above the national average, we have Chicago, IL ($1,906) and Denver, CO ($1,633) in the afterglow of the first quarter construction boom.

Doug Ressler of Yardi Matrix believes job growth cannot be overlooked when discussing housing prices in large renter hubs. In the greater Seattle area — home to the headquarters of Microsoft and Amazon — the 21% job growth since 2011 has outpaced the 13% increase in housing construction. This has led to a 96% jump in housing prices over the past eight years, Ressler says. All in all, homes feel less affordable to buyers today than they did 10 years ago, causing those who have never owned a home to delay buying a single-family home or condo unit.

May rents in the 20 largest renter mega-hubs:

CityAverage Rent May 2019Average Rent Previous YearNet 1-Yr Change
Manhattan (New York City), NY$4,200 $4,118 $82
Los Angeles, CA$2,478 $2,365 $113
Washington, D.C.$2,149 $2,122 $27
Seattle, WA$2,087 $2,041 $46
Chicago, IL$1,906 $1,881 $25
Denver, CO$1,633 $1,589 $44
Atlanta, GA$1,435 $1,389 $46
Orlando, FL$1,422 $1,379 $43
Austin, TX$1,379 $1,327 $52
Tampa, FL$1,313 $1,273 $40
Dallas, TX$1,207 $1,168 $39
Charlotte, NC$1,200 $1,180 $20
Houston, TX$1,101 $1,094 $7
Fort Worth, TX$1,099 $1,063 $36
Jacksonville, FL$1,084 $1,024 $60
Las Vegas, NV$1,066 $998$68
Phoenix, AZ$1,057 $983$74
San Antonio, TX$1,029 $993$36
Columbus, OH$925$902$23
Indianapolis, IN$863$834$29

Large cities in the Northeast and California see highest figures as rents in San Francisco and Boston trail Manhattan

Oklahoma City is the 8th most affordable place to rent in the U.S. and, at $756 per month, tops the list as the most affordable among larger cities. El Paso, TX and Memphis, TN don’t fall too far behind as rent in Sun City reached $773 in May, while the Home of the Blues is also home to an affordable monthly average of $789.

Although not at Manhattan-level, rents in San Francisco are well past the national average with monthly prices reaching $3,648 in May. New apartment openings might be what keeps influencing prices in Boston, MA, where the average rent reached $3,342 while in Brooklyn, NY, $2,954.

May sees no significant rank adjustments among the country’s mid-sized cities

After a 0.8% m-o-m increase, Oakland, CA continues to exhibit the highest rent among mid-sized cities. The $1,707 average rent in Miami, FL wraps up a top otherwise dominated by California mid-sized cities: Long Beach ($2,026), Santa Ana ($1,938), and Anaheim ($1,795).

As expected, Wichita‘s $647 average rent remains the lowest in the country after a symbolic $1 m-o-m increase. Next up is Tulsa, OK, which has the only other average rent still in the $600s. Well below this month’s national average are Tucson, AZ with $864, Albuquerque, NM with $878, and Lexington, KY with $909.

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

The second quarter shows no changes in smaller cities across the U.S.

Small communities did not see high rent fluctuations this quarter as Toledo, OH ($715) and Brownsville, TX ($722) continue to one-up each other in affordability. The average rent price in Amarillo reached $732 and $735 in Killeen, TX while renting in Independence, MO remained unchanged as of last month ($751). California is home to smaller cities that display the highest average rents. San Mateo snags the first place at $3,322, while Sunnyvale comes in third with $2,931, and Santa Clara wraps it up at $2,892/month on average.


May RentCafe searches show renters’ interest in 2-bedroom apartments 

Traffic data shows 2-bedroom apartments continue to be the top-most searched unit type on — almost 44% of all May searches. Hits on 1-bedroom apartments make up a little over 26% of traffic, while 3-bedrooms are third-most popular among potential renters’ preferences. Making up for almost 18% of searches, 3-bedroom units are more popular than studios (12%) this month.

Curious about rents in cities like Philadelphia, Raleigh, St. Paul, Cincinnati, or Minneapolis? Check the average rent price in your city by using this interactive table:

Methodology: 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 130 markets across the U.S., as reported by Yardi Matrix.

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 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

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Alexandra is a creative writer and researcher for RentCafe. With a background in e-learning content writing and a passion for knowledge-sharing platforms, she's covered topics from prop-tech to renters insurance to interior design tips. Very familiar with the renter lifestyle herself, Alexandra enjoys researching and writing about renter demographic shifts and residential real estate market trends as much as she loves writing about how to get along with roommates. You can connect with Alexandra via email.

Alexandra’s work includes collaborations with financial and business publications. Her articles have been featured in several national and international online publications, including the New York Times, Barrons, Inman, Forbes, Architectural Digest, Marketwatch, Bisnow, and Curbed. Her educational background includes a B.A. in Japanese and English and an M.A. in Journalism and Cultural Studies.

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