Small Cities Lead The Way In Rent Growth In May

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The Editors's picture
Small Cities Lead The Way In Rent Growth In May

The top 25 fastest rent growth places in the country can be found in small cities, driven in part by economic growth and population migration, according to new research from Rent Café.

The small cities and towns across the country are growing in population, jobs, and housing prices, with the top 25 largest increases in rents happening in small markets.

For example, Odessa and Midland, Texas are flourishing oil-industry centers, with rent prices skyrocketing by over 35% compared to 2017.

People leaving more expensive rent cities

Job numbers are climbing, and people are fleeing larger and more expensive cities for more affordable ones. According to Doug Ressler, Director of Business Intelligence at Yardi Matrix, “one of the main reasons the fastest growing rents in the country are in small cities is due to population mobility.

“If the “Value of Work” undergoes dramatic change and there is significant wage growth, the result will be an increase in mobility. However, individual salary and wages have and continue to experience only modest increases. 

“Housing demand due to population growth in the secondary and tertiary markets combined with lack of housing stocks shows greater gains than urban cores due in part to decreased mobility,” he said according to a release.

Hillsboro a small Oregon city with dropping rent an exception

Renters in high-tech job hub Hillsboro, OR continue to see decreasing rents.

Prices in the Portland area town have declined by -2.3% compared to May 2017, dropping under last year’s $1,500 monthly average, now at $1,467 per month.

Cheapest cities for rent growth and most expensive

Small Cities Lead Top Rent Growth In May

Among the 250 cities analyzed, Wichita has cheapest apartments, with an average rent of $634/month in May, followed by apartments in Tulsa, OK, where the average rent is $669.

 Brownsville, TX apartments cost $672 on average, down $13 since April. El Paso, TX entered the top 10 list of most affordable cities for renters in May, with an average rent of $743, pushing out Fort Wayne, IN. Rents in El Paso have barely changed over the year, with a 0.7% increase. Memphis, TN, Kansas City, KS, and Warren, MI are also among the cities where rents cost less than $800 per month on average.

Rent growth in highest most expensive cities

Manhattan, NYC remains the most expensive place to rent an apartment in the U.S., with an average rent of $4,063, unchanged from the previous month. San Francisco rents went up $11 since April, reaching $3,453/month, the second most expensive city for renters in the country. Apartments in Boston rank third by price, with an average monthly rate of $3,282, $27 more than April rents. Rental prices in San Mateo, CA take the 4th spot, with an average rent of $3,170 from $3,162 last month. Student town Cambridge, MA remains the fifth most expensive to rent in, with an average rent of $3,040.


RENTCafe 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 250 cities in the US. The report is exclusively based on apartment data related to buildings containing 50 or more units. Our report includes cities with populations over 100,000 and a rental stock of at least 2,900 apartments in 50+ unit buildings.

In this report, large cities are cities with a population of 600,000 people or more, mid-sized cities are cities with a population between 300,000 and 600,000, and small cities are cities with a population of less than 300,000. 

Rent data was provided by 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. Rental rate coverage is for Market Rate properties only. Fully Affordable properties are not included in the Yardi Matrix rental surveys and are not reported in rental rate averages


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