Rental Prices Reach the Highest Level in Two Years: ‘Young Adults are Setting Out on Their Own Again’

Article originally posted on AZ Central on June 18, 2021

Monthly rents rose 5.5% year-over-year in May 2021 to an average of $1,527 across studios, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments.

Apartment rents are soaring again as the pandemic wanes and workers return to cities.

The U.S. median rent hit the highest level in two years in May, increasing by 7.5% over the last two years, according to a report by

Monthly rents rose 5.5% year-over-year in May to an average of $1,527 across studios, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments.

Of the 50 largest metropolitan areas, 43 saw their median rent increase year-over-year in May, up from 40 in April, and 33 in March.

A year after the coronavirus pandemic prompted people to leave crowded metro areas —  encouraged by remote work policies, or because huge numbers of layoffs forced them into less expensive areas — renters seem to be gravitating back to cities as vaccination rates go up and jobs continue to come back.

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“Young adults are setting out on their own again,” says Danielle Hale, the chief economist at

She noted that incomes are still growing and more people are returning to work.

As home prices hit record highs and become less affordable, the appetite for rentals may rise as would-be buyers opt for leasing, says Hale.

According to the report, Riverside, California, was the metro area with the fastest-growing rent, with the median reaching $2,020 in May, up 19.2% year-over-year. The other metro areas topping the list of fastest-growing rents included Memphis, Tennessee (17.2%); Tampa, Florida (16.9%); Phoenix, Arizona (17%); and Sacramento, California, (16%).

Luxury apartment buildings

Prior to the start of the pandemic, rents in the 50 largest metro areas grew by 3.2% year-over-year.

Rental markets like San Francisco and San Jose, which have seen steep declines, are seeing those declines soften.

San Jose, for instance, increased by 3.7% in the last month.

Many of the rent discounts are about to disappear, and anyone who was hoping to score a less expensive lease in places like San Francisco, San Jose, or other major tech centers, will soon find those deals gone, Hale says.