Miami and Suburban Chicago Lead U.S. Rental Market

While Miami continues its reign as the nation’s most competitive rental market, a new contender has emerged from the Midwest.
  • At the start of moving season, the national competitivity score stood at 73.4 out of 100. Nearly two-thirds of U.S. renters renewed leases.
  • Miami retained its position as the nation’s most competitive rental market, strengthening Florida’s appeal among apartment hunters.
  • Suburban Chicago is now the second-most competitive rental market, influenced by the growing ‘hipsturbia’ trend.
Key Takeaways

While Miami continues its reign as the nation’s most competitive rental market, a new contender has emerged from the Midwest. Suburban Chicago has moved up to become the second-hottest market for renters, as reported by RentCafe.

Rental Market Overview

At the start of the moving season, the Rental Competitiveness Index (RCI) stood at 73.4, indicating a moderately competitive apartment market. The overall U.S. rental market is under slightly less strain compared to last year, still riding the effects of the latest supply influx. 

Notably, apartment supply was up 0.61% since January. Around 29% of the 137 markets analyzed also show signs of softening, often with longer vacancy periods and more lease renewals.

Florida’s Edge

Miami holds an impressive RCI score of 94.1, making it the most competitive rental market in the nation. Plenty of job prospects and a relaxed lifestyle have continued to attract migrants, intensifying competition among apartment hunters. Only 3.5% of Miami apartments for rent were available, leading to a high lease renewal rate of 73.6%.

Windy City ‘Hipsturbia’

‘Hipsturbia’ is a trending lifestyle among younger generations, and can be broadly defined as affordable, walkable suburbs that offer nearby big-city perks. Chicago happens to be one of the best candidates for such a lifestyle.

Suburban Chicago is now the second-most competitive market, with an RCI score of 83.6. High occupancy rates and lease renewals, along with limited new units, have made renting challenging. Areas like Naperville, Joliet, and Schaumburg are particularly attractive to Millennials seeking a blend of urban and suburban living.

Other Regional Highlights

  • Twin Cities and Memphis: Significantly more YoY rental competition, driven by economic growth and limited new apartment supply.
  • NYC Boroughs: Saw a surge in demand for apartments, with high lease renewal rates and limited vacancy periods.
  • Lehigh Valley, PA: Emerged as the nation’s hottest small rental market, leading a pack of nine small Northeastern metros.

Why It Matters

As the moving season heats up, renters will be competing across the country, driven by limited supply, high lease renewals, and regional economics. Apartment hunters should be prepared to look at as many apartments as they can, particularly in high-demand areas.

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