Best and Worst Times to Rent by City

Finding a new apartment or evening renewing your lease are among some of the more stressful events many of us must partake in every year. Part of it is the wild fluctuations in rent pricing that can take place every day. Especially with long-term leases, even a mild rent price increase can mean a significant sum over the duration of the lease. Utilizing month-to-month 1 bedroom rent data from Zillow, here’s a look at a few rent-related metrics:
• Priciest and cheapest months to rent in the top cities in the US
• Year-over-year rent price trends
• Amount of pricing fluctuation seen in each market

Below I’ll present some of the most interesting nation-wide insights, but if you are interested in looking at specific states or cities, I highly recommend you visit my free interactive dashboard to allow to dig deeper in your locations of interest.

Most Expensive Cities to Rent: 1 Bedroom Rent Pricing – Ordered by Median Monthly Rent ($)

Most expensive cities to rent a 1 bedroom apartment - San Francisco, San Jose, New York

Looking at the top 50 markets, there are the usual players at the top. The big cities and Silicon Valley sit atop the carts, with the top 5 markets averaging over $2,000 per month for a one-bedroom apartment! San Francisco leads with a median rent of $3,480 per month, which seems absurd. However, the median rent in these top 5 markets didn’t grow by more than 1.7% (New York) and actually dropped in San Francisco, San Jose, and Boston (I know what you’re thinking, “what a steal!”). So, if these top markets aren’t continuing to skyrocket, which markets are?

Rising Rent Costs: 1 Bedroom Rent Pricing – Ordered by Year-over-Year Change in Median Rent Price

Top Trending Cities for Renting - Raleigh, Sacramento, and Charlotte

When looking at which of the top 50 markets experienced the largest year-over-year growth, North Carolina and California dominated the top 5. North Carolina cities Raleigh and Charlotte grew at a rate of 29% and 14.5%, respectively. In California, Sacramento, Anaheim, and Long Beach saw year-over-year increases of 14.5%, 14.3%, and 14.0%, respectively.

Pricing Variability: 1 Bedroom Rent Pricing – Ordered by Monthly Pricing Variability

Another thing I analyzed for this is the monthly variability of pricing. For this, I looked at the difference between the most expensive month’s median rent and least expensive month’s median rent per city and divided the difference by the median rent for 2016. Memphis, Tennessee blows away the competition with a 30.2% variability and is followed by Detroit (22.7%). Both cities have relatively low monthly rent (both have median monthly rents of under $700), but #3 on the list, Anaheim, sees a variability of 18.9% (with a $308 difference between the least expensive month (a still-high $1,575) and priciest month ($1,883)). Another mention is warranted for San Francisco, coming in just outside of the top 10. There is a $535-month difference between renting an apartment in December ($3,100) and February ($3,635). Still, even a $3,100 monthly rent for the cheapest month is “Hella expensive,” to quote Northern Californians.

When looking at all 272 cities included at the top of the list, it turns out the cheapest rent can be found, on average, in January and December, during with 34.2% of all cities featured had the cheapest month. The most expensive time to rent tends to be in the heart of the Summer (September is the most expensive month for 13.1% of cities and is closely followed by June and July.

Most expensive and cheapest months to rent in the US.

Now here’s a look at just the top 100 markets, which are labeled by the least expensive month to rent a one-bedroom. The tiles have been colored by state:

Now, these are just some sample insights, but I’ve built an interactive dashboard for you to visit and interact with on Tableau Public so you can dig deeper into the states and cities you care most about. Click here to check it out!

To read more data stories on topics such as free meal programs in public schools, NBA attendance rates, and tourism, go here!

Free Dashboard for One Bedroom Rent Trends

Best and Worst Months to Rent (Top 30 US Markets):

New York, New York
Cheapest month to rent in New York: December (5% less than median New York rent)
Most expensive month to rent in New York: October (7% more than median New York rent)
Los Angeles, California
Cheapest month to rent in Los Angeles: December (7% less than median Los Angeles rent)
Most expensive month to rent in Los Angeles: April (1% more than median Los Angeles rent)
Chicago, Illinois
Cheapest month to rent in Chicago: July (3% less than median Chicago rent)
Most expensive month to rent in Chicago: February (11% more than median Chicago rent)
Houston, Texas
Cheapest month to rent in Houston: November (9% less than median Houston rent)
Most expensive month to rent in Houston: January (8% more than median Houston rent)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Cheapest month to rent in Philadelphia: January (3% less than median Philadelphia rent)
Most expensive month to rent in Philadelphia: May (4% more than median Philadelphia rent)
Phoenix, Arizona
Cheapest month to rent in Phoenix: December (5% less than median Phoenix rent)
Most expensive month to rent in Phoenix: June (7% more than median Phoenix rent)
Las Vegas, Nevada
Cheapest month to rent in Las Vegas: July (2% less than median Las Vegas rent)
Most expensive month to rent in Las Vegas: June (3% more than median Las Vegas rent)
San Antonio, Texas
Cheapest month to rent in San Antonio: December (4% less than median San Antonio rent)
Most expensive month to rent in San Antonio: March (3% more than median San Antonio rent)
San Diego, California
Cheapest month to rent in San Diego: December (3% less than median San Diego rent)
Most expensive month to rent in San Diego: July (6% more than median San Diego rent)
Dallas, Texas
Cheapest month to rent in Dallas: January (3% less than median Dallas rent)
Most expensive month to rent in Dallas: September (4% more than median Dallas rent)
San Jose, California
Cheapest month to rent in San Jose: November (4% less than median San Jose rent)
Most expensive month to rent in San Jose: January (4% more than median San Jose rent)
Jacksonville, Florida
Cheapest month to rent in Jacksonville: November (5% less than median Jacksonville rent)
Most expensive month to rent in Jacksonville: February (0% more than median Jacksonville rent)

San Francisco, California
Cheapest month to rent in San Francisco: December (10% less than median San Francisco rent)
Most expensive month to rent in San Francisco: February (4% more than median San Francisco rent)
Indianapolis, Indiana
Cheapest month to rent in Indianapolis: February (3% less than median Indianapolis rent)
Most expensive month to rent in Indianapolis: May (4% more than median Indianapolis rent)
Austin, Texas
Cheapest month to rent in Austin: December (8% less than median Austin rent)
Most expensive month to rent in Austin: March (2% more than median Austin rent)
Fort Worth, Texas
Cheapest month to rent in Fort Worth: December (5% less than median Fort Worth rent)
Most expensive month to rent in Fort Worth: August (5% more than median Fort Worth rent)
Detroit, Michigan
Cheapest month to rent in Detroit: January (4% less than median Detroit rent)
Most expensive month to rent in Detroit: August (18% more than median Detroit rent)
Columbus, Ohio
Cheapest month to rent in Columbus: April (6% less than median Columbus rent)
Most expensive month to rent in Columbus: August (7% more than median Columbus rent)
Memphis, Tennessee
Cheapest month to rent in Memphis: October (8% less than median Memphis rent)
Most expensive month to rent in Memphis: April (21% more than median Memphis rent)
Charlotte, North Carolina
Cheapest month to rent in Charlotte: January (11% less than median Charlotte rent)
Most expensive month to rent in Charlotte: March (5% more than median Charlotte rent)
El Paso, Texas
Cheapest month to rent in El Paso: September (6% less than median El Paso rent)
Most expensive month to rent in El Paso: May (8% more than median El Paso rent)
Boston, Massachusetts
Cheapest month to rent in Boston: July (1% less than median Boston rent)
Most expensive month to rent in Boston: January (4% more than median Boston rent)
Seattle, Washington
Cheapest month to rent in Seattle: December (4% less than median Seattle rent)
Most expensive month to rent in Seattle: May (3% more than median Seattle rent)
Baltimore, Maryland
Cheapest month to rent in Baltimore: January (8% less than median Baltimore rent)
Most expensive month to rent in Baltimore: October (8% more than median Baltimore rent)
Denver, Colorado
Cheapest month to rent in Denver: November (6% less than median Denver rent)
Most expensive month to rent in Denver: August (6% more than median Denver rent)
Washington, District of Columbia
Cheapest month to rent in Washington: November (4% less than median Washington rent)
Most expensive month to rent in Washington: May (1% more than median Washington rent)
Nashville, Tennessee
Cheapest month to rent in Nashville: April (2% less than median Nashville rent)
Most expensive month to rent in Nashville: November (11% more than median Nashville rent)
Tucson, Arizona
Cheapest month to rent in Tucson: June (6% less than median Tucson rent)
Most expensive month to rent in Tucson: December (4% more than median Tucson rent)
Portland, Oregon
Cheapest month to rent in Portland: December (9% less than median Portland rent)
Most expensive month to rent in Portland: February (6% more than median Portland rent)
Omaha, Nebraska
Cheapest month to rent in Omaha: December (10% less than median Omaha rent)
Most expensive month to rent in Omaha: October (4% more than median Omaha rent)

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