[Rent Report] Rent Prices Rise (Insignificantly) in February

In January we reported that apartment rents had continued their moderate rise and that trend—albeit muted at best, continued into February with gains that we could call statistically insignificant. Let’s get into the details.

1-Bedroom Apartments

Median one-bedroom units posted only a small 0.37 increase to a median rent of $1090, up just $4.00 from January.

Upward Movers

Norfolk, VA topped our gainers list with a solid 11 percent gain—up $100 to $1008 from January’s reported $908. Jacksonville, FL claimed second place with a 6.9 percent rise to a median $1087. After that, the rest of our top ten list participants were more tightly bunched as Kansas City, MO placed third with a 4.3 percent gain and Gainesville, FL claimed forth place with a 4 percent rise to a median $920.

Cleveland, OH and Santa Ana, CA reported increases of 3.9 and 3.8 percent respectively, while Toledo, OH’s median rent rose 3.3 percent to a still very affordable $566. Warm Tucson, AZ gained 3.2 percent and Charleston, SC took ninth place with a 2.8 percent median rent increase to $1665. Expensive Oakland, CA reported an increase of 2.7 percent to $2856.

The priciest city on our top ten gainers list was Oakland, CA with that sky-high $2856 median rent, and the cheapest was Toledo, OH, at $566 almost an astounding 70 percent cheaper than Oakland, CA.

February 2020 Rent Report 1-Bedroom Pricing

Downward Movers

Our top ten losers list looked somewhat similar to the top ten gainers list. Detroit, MI took the number one spot with a serious 10.8 percent decline to a median rent of $1240. Boulder, CO placed second but with a much more muted decline of 4.1 percent. Mesa, AZ followed closely behind with a loss of 4.0 percent to a median $988, and Savannah, GA fell 3.4 percent to $1221.

Tempe, AZ and Fort Worth, TX posted similar losses in the 3.0 to 3.4 percent range, as did Columbus, OH and Nashville, TN, as both of those locales lost between 2.3 and 2.8 percent. Springfield, MO and Ann Arbor, MI tied for the basement spot with identical 1.9 percent losses.

Springfield, MO was the most affordable spot on our top ten losers list with a median rent of only $665, and popular Boulder, CO was the most expensive place to live with a median one-bedroom rent of $1860.

2-Bedroom Apartments

Median two-bedroom units rose just $2.00 to a median February rent of $1348; this represents a small 0.15 percent increase.

Upward Movers

There were no double-digit increasers on our top-ten two-bedroom gainers list in February, but Cleveland, OH was close with a 9.7 percent increase to a median $1184. Jacksonville, FL claimed second place with a 6.1 percent increase while Milwaukee, WI was not that far behind posting a 5.1 percent gain to a median $1388. 

Columbus, GA was forth with a 4.5 percent rise to a still-affordable $786, and Buck Owens’ Bakersfield, CA rose 3.7 percent as did Gainesville, FL. Both Grand Rapids, MI and Oakland, CA reported identical 3.5 percent increases but living in an Oakland two-bedroom apartment cost three times as much as a Grand Rapids, MI two-bedroom unit.

Rounding out the top ten two-bedroom gainers list were El Paso, TX and Green Bay, WI, rising 3.4 and 3.1 percent respectively.

Looking for value? Then Columbus, Ga would be the choice at a median $786. If price is not a deterrent, Oakland, CA is the place to go with a whopping median two-bedroom rent of $3708.

February 2020 Rent Report 2-Bedroom Prices

Downward Movers

February’s two-bedroom losers were tightly bunched as Mesa, AZ and Wichita, KS gained 6.4 to 6.5 percent. St Petersburg, FL was in third place on the top ten two-bedroom losers list with a drop of 4.5 percent to $1314.

Honolulu, HI and Nashville, TN both fell 3.1 percent and Savannah, GA lost 2.6 percent to a median rent of $1102. Atlanta, GA was alone in seventh place with 2.2 percent loss to $163 while both Springfield, MO and Tempe, AZ dropped 1.8 percent to $691 and $1442 respectively.

Springfield, MO was the cheapest two-bedroom on the list at a comfortable $691 and Honolulu won the prize for the priciest median two-bedroom apartment rent on our losers list at $2032.

Rent Report Recap & What’s Next?

At the end of 2019, we felt that barring any geopolitical hostilities or economic shocks, rental prices would continue their modest climb. This proved to be correct, but with the rise of the coronavirus epidemic and with the possibility that it could become a pandemic, we are concerned that this could be the beginning of an economic downturn.

Oil prices have already fallen due to excess supply worries as airlines continue to cut flights and therefore consume less jet fuel. Some cities in China are virtually locked down, and pundits feel that a prolonged period of illness-based uncertainty can shave two percent or more off the Chinese GDP.

This contagion, if you will, could possibly spread to the United States, and if it results in economic turmoil, we could see rental price increases come to a screeching halt.

Be sure to tune in next month.


Each month, using millions of Rentable listings across the United States, we calculate the median 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom rent prices by city, state, and nation, and track the month-over-month percent change. To avoid small sample sizes, we restrict the analysis for our reports to cities meeting minimum population and property count thresholds.

For press inquiries, please contact Sam Radbil.