This City Just Became the Most Expensive City To Rent In


Aug. 27 2021, Published 11:29 a.m. ET

San Francisco has held the title of the most expensive city to rent in for years, but the times are a-changin'. Now, a new city has surpassed it by a hair, claiming the title of the priciest place for renters to live in.

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What city is squeezing out lower-income renters more than any other urban U.S. region in 2021? Let's take a look at the data.

New York City surpasses San Francisco as the most expensive U.S. city for renters in 2021

According to the Zumper National Rent Report, New York City is now the priciest urban area for renters. Based on data for one-bedroom abodes in Aug. 2021, the median rent in New York is now $2,810.

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That's more than San Francisco's median one-bedroom rent of $2,800. While the $10 difference is marginal, it shows a real shift in costs between the two cities, which have been seemingly competing for the most expensive slot for years. In the past, San Francisco's Silicon Valley created a wild influx of wealth as tech millionaires and billionaires rolled in, boosting the city's median rent price above New York's since Zumper began tracking the data in 2014.

The shift happened quickly

Remember the "urban exodus" at the start of the pandemic? Those moves caused rental prices to drop in New York and San Francisco significantly. From Mar. 2020 to Jan. 2021, San Francisco's median rent fell 23.4 percent, while New York's fell 17.5 percent.

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By Jan. 2021, San Francisco's median rent was still $330 more than New York's. A couple of years before, that difference was nearly three times larger. Now, the margin has reversed, putting New York in the top spot.

It's not just N.Y.C.'s rent that's increasing

As inflation continues to rear its ugly head, national rent growth is soaring. The red-hot housing market has spilled over into the rental market and caused prices to rise. According to the data, the national median rent for a one-bedroom has risen 9.2 percent since 2020's second quarter. For two bedrooms, the cost is up even more, by 11 percent.

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As for the cities seeing the largest rental price increases, Salt Lake City, Ut., and Knoxville, Tenn., top the list. Meanwhile, rent in Chattanooga, Tenn., and Baltimore, Md., is actually decreasing.

Which cities trail New York as the priciest places for renters in the U.S.?

This month, New York is the priciest place to rent, but it's not the only city on the list. Other cities include:

  • San Francisco (of course).

  • Boston, Mass.

  • San Jose, Calif.

  • Washington, D.C.

  • Los Angeles, Calif.

  • Oakland, Calif.

  • San Diego, Calif.

  • Miami, Fla.

  • Santa Ana, Calif.

Whereas N.Y.C. may have surpassed San Francisco for the most expensive rent, California has the unfortunate bragging rights as the state with the most cities in the list of ten priciest places to live.


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