City Rents Drop Faster Than Their Suburban Counterparts in the U.S.

City Rents Drop Faster Than Their Suburban Counterparts in the U.S.

For years, the suburbs have been the go-to choice for many people seeking more affordable rent compared to city living. This perception of affordability in the ‘burbs has long been one of their main selling points. However, recent data suggests that this traditional notion is starting to lose its grip, as the difference in rent between urban and suburban areas is gradually diminishing.

A compelling study by Apartment List has unearthed some fascinating trends that have unfolded during the early stages of the pandemic. The research reveals that suburban rent hikes outpaced those in urban areas across 28 of the largest metropolitan regions in the United States. As time has progressed, rent prices in central cities have experienced a sharper decline year-over-year, thereby narrowing the price chasm that once separated them from their suburban counterparts.

Let’s take a closer look at some specific cities to get a clearer picture. In Atlanta, as of July, the median rent stood at $1,529 within the city limits and $1,677 in the Sandy Springs suburbs, per Apartment List data. Meanwhile, in Detroit, the urban core boasted a median rent of $968, contrasted by a considerably higher $1,498 in the Dearborn and Warren suburbs. Over in Portland, Oregon, the central city was home to a median rent of $1,376, while its Vancouver and Hillsboro suburbs were noticeably pricier at $1,719.

So, what’s behind this shift in the rental landscape? During the initial phase of the pandemic, many people sought refuge in suburban spaces, chasing the allure of more room and fewer neighbors. This uptick in demand led to a surge in suburban rents. As for the more accelerated decline in city rents, it’s partly due to the fact that many urbanites have opted to move back to the cities as remote work policies become more flexible and city life begins to return to a semblance of normalcy.

In a nutshell, the pandemic has reshuffled the deck when it comes to the cost of renting in urban and suburban areas. What was once a given—that suburban rents were more affordable—is now becoming less of a certainty. And as these trends continue to evolve, renters may need to recalibrate their assumptions about where they can get the most bang for their buck.

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