The Complete 2023 Guide to Rent Prices in the US

Written by Jonas Bordo

August Brings High Heat, Low Rents

August was a sweltering month for much of the U.S., with a side of extreme weather for many.

The rental market was neither sweltering nor extreme.  Dwellsy’s August rent data is out and it shows the continued stability in asking rent that we’ve been experiencing for months now.  

Here’s the headline rent price data through August 2023:

• $1,895/mo: 3 Bedroom SFR median asking rent

  • Up $100 or 5.6% vs. $1,800 in August 2022
  • Up $5 or 0.3% vs. $1,890 in July 2023

• $1,300/mo: 1 Bedroom Apartment median asking rent

  • Down $25 or 1.9% vs. $1,325 in August 2022
  • Flat vs. $1,300 in July 2023 (and June 2023)

• $1,450/mo: 2 Bedroom Apartment median asking rent

  • Flat vs. $1,450 in August 2022
  • Flat vs. $1,450 in July 2023

For more on Dwellsy’s rent reporting methodology, please check out our article on the topic.

Median Asking Rent, August 2022 to August 2023

A look at the data over the past two years puts the most recent August rent changes in context.  While we have seen an overall significant move up in 3-bedroom single-family home rental prices since January of 2021 (a 24.9% increase), rent for 1-bedroom apartments has actually declined by 1.1% during this time.

Why the Difference In Rent Change Between SFR and Apartments?

The past several years have brought enormous changes in consumer preferences for housing.  

The biggest change has been a shift to value larger homes as more of us work from home, spend more time at home, and embrace pets.  In many cases, this has caused renters to be willing to spend more to get the extra space - perhaps with savings from no longer having to commute.

Additionally, many individuals and families, freed from the need to live close to their work, have moved to lower-cost locations and have been able to trade up to larger homes for the same or less money.  For example, about $2,060 will get you a three-bedroom home in Nashville, TN but you’ll need $2,095 to get a 1-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles, CA.

This has meant that overall demand for smaller rentals, particularly those at average/median price points, has lagged that for larger homes and single-family properties.  

Looking at other bedroom counts in the following chart, the divergence between smaller apartments and larger rentals is clear - and dramatic.  3-bedroom single-family homes (“SFR”) have had the most rent growth, followed by 4-bedroom homes, 2-bedroom homes, and 3-bedroom apartments.  Studio and 1-bedroom apartments have both seen actual rent decreases since January of ‘21.  

Why are 2-Bedroom Apartment Rents Growing Faster than 1-Bedroom Apartments?

The rent levels for 2-bedroom apartments vs. 1-bedroom apartments can look a little odd on a national basis. In virtually all situations, there is always a premium for 2-bedroom apartments, but the national data reflects a minimal premium.  

This happens because dense, urban areas tend to have both higher-cost rentals in general and a greater proportion of smaller apartments.  In places where there is more room to spread out, such as suburbs, small cities, and rural areas, 1-bedroom apartments are relatively uncommon and there are far more 2-bedroom places.  As a result, on a median national basis, the two tend to look alike from a pricing standpoint.

Since the beginning of 2021, we have seen a divergence: 2-bedroom apartments have gotten more expensive vs. 1-bedroom apartments.  We have seen an overall trend towards larger places, and this is part of that trend.  With more of us working from home and otherwise needing extra space in the home, there is more demand for larger homes and apartments of all kinds, so those larger places have seen more rent increase vs. smaller properties.

A key factor in this dynamic has been the record growth in deliveries of new apartment supply, increasing the availability of rentals at a time when demand is not particularly high.  

That said, we do see a divergence in the numbers between premium and more typical, middle-class apartments.  Premium apartments have continued to see higher rent growth and certain cities that have dense apartment stock (we see you, NYC) have also continued to see material increases in rent.  

Most Expensive Large Cities for 3-Bedroom Single-Family Home Rents

Will Californians ever catch a break?  California cities once again top the charts for the most expensive single-family home rental markets in the country, with Los Angeles, San Jose, San Francisco, and San Diego taking the top four spots again in August.  The Riverside-San Bernadino-Ontario MSA is also on the list (10th), so California cities claim fully half of the most expensive rental cities in the country for single-family home rentals.

Most Expensive Large Cities for 1 Bedroom Apartment Rentals

Across the country, rents for 1 bedroom apartments have been relatively flat, but renters in some large cities did see meaningful rent increases this past year.

Taking the sad trophy yet again in August is the New York City metro area, which saw the highest overall rent level for these types of apartments ($3,046/mo).  While NYC’s hold on the trophy is solid with rent more than $500/mo higher than #2 Boston, rent there has dropped now for four months in a row; it’s almost $200/mo lower than it was in May.   As a result, NYC’s year-over-year rent growth is well below the ~10% figure we’ve been seeing for some time.  

Following New York and Boston, the San Francisco, CA, San Jose, CA, and Los Angeles, CA MSAs round out the top five.

Most Expensive Small Cities for 3 Bedroom Single-Family Home Rents

Over the course of the past year, many renters found their way to smaller cities with great amenities or attractions (California/Florida/Arizona sunshine!), and those on this list saw the highest rent as a result.  

Once again, Naples-Marco Island, FL, takes the top spot on this dubious list. Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura is in second place and Salinas, CA (home to tony Carmel-By-The-Sea) is in third.  

Santa Barbara, CA saw the highest overall growth in rent in this group, with rent up more than 10% in the past year, though their rent growth numbers are lower than we’ve seen in a while, suggesting the Santa Barbara market is cooling while absorbing past rent increases.

Most Expensive Small Cities for 1 Bedroom Apartment Rentals

Smaller cities are often some of the most challenging places to find great apartment rentals and the top 10 on this list are no exception.  We’re not at NYC levels on the rent here, but rent for a 1 bedroom in each of these markets exceeds $1,750 per month and goes as high as $2,200/mo in Santa Barbara, CA - if you can find one.

Cities With The Fastest Growing 3-Bedroom Home Rent in 2023

Nationwide, single-family rentals have grown in price at a dramatically higher rate than apartments, and in these 10 markets, that price increase is felt most dramatically.

This month, Anderson, IN shows as the city with the most dramatic increase in median rent for available units with an overall increase of nearly 30% in monthly rent.  Springfield, IL (Home of the Simpsons?) and Fort Smith, AR-OK round out the top three with year-over-year rent increases of 29% and 22% respectively.  

It’s rare that we get a larger city in this group, but Memphis, TN is on the list for the first time with rent growth of just over 20%.  Another large city that made the list is Indianapolis, IN, with rent growth of nearly 16% vs. this time last year.

Cities With The Fastest Growing 1-Bedroom Apartment Rent in 2023

In contrast to the national picture where overall, rents for 1-bedroom apartments have been flat to down over the past year (or past three years!), there are markets that have seen significant increases in rent levels for these types of properties.

This month’s number 1 is Ellensburg, WA.  The residents of that good city are seeing staggering rent growth (+ 42% since last year).  

Fayetteville, NC, Eau Claire, WI, Charleston, WV and Evansville, IN-KY round out the top five, each increasing rents for 1-bedroom apartments by 35% or more in the past year.

Apartment markets in smaller cities, like those in this list, can be highly volatile, influenced by the delivery of just a few new buildings in a particular market, so please keep that in mind with this particular cohort.

How Does Rent Compare in Different Regions of the Country?

We recently took a look at how the rent compares across different U.S. regions and we were quite surprised to see the results.  

For 3-bedroom house rentals, the Western states like California, Washington, and Oregon are dramatically more expensive than other parts of the country.  The Southwest, Southeast and Northeast are hand in hand for second place and the Midwest comes in with the lowest costs.  

Interestingly, the median asking rent for these homes in the Western states is nearly a full $1,000 more expensive than those in the Midwest - Ouch.

With 1 bedroom apartments, the Northeastern states are the most expensive, followed closely by western states like California, Oregon, and Washington.  Apartments in the Southwest and the Midwest are dramatically different - far less expensive.  

It’s notable that the West is not all by itself at the top of the expense pile here the way it is for 3-bedroom homes.  

In the past year, 1-bedroom apartment rent costs in the Southwest have trended up slightly, while all other regions of the country are flat to down.  

For 3-bedroom rental houses, the continued uptick in the Northeast and Midwest is notable, particularly since those are two of the less expensive areas of the country for these types of rentals.

Average Rent vs. Median Rent

While average rent is the more widely used term, here at Dwellsy, we use the median of the data set for each property type because of the fact that rent prices can be priced up to $20,000 and beyond, but cannot go below $0.  

This asymmetrical data creates a situation in which the average and the median are substantially different and the average is always higher than the median.

Dwellsy believes the median is the most representative for this analysis since it more accurately represents what renters are actually seeing and paying when it comes to rentals.

For more on our methodology and approach, please visit our detailed methodology description.

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