Forgive renters if they’re a bit surly these days: Apartment rents soared in 2021. And that made renting in many major U.S. cities an even more expensive task last year.
That’s the takeaway from Zumper’s 2021 Annual Rent Report. As Zumper says, apartment rents across the country rose at a steep rate, with Zumper’s National Index showing an 11.6 percent rise in the median one-bedroom rent when comparing the end of 2021 with the end of 2020.
And the median rents on two-bedroom apartments in the United States rose at an even faster pace, increasing by 13.6 percent in 2021 when compared to one year earlier.
The rising rental rates were especially jarring to renters in big cities. As Zumper says, apartment rents in many major metro areas fell in 2020 as property owners attempted to attract renters during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, the median apartment rents in most big cities bounced back to where they stood before the beginning of the pandemic.
And in some big U.S. cities? Median rents have soared past their pre-pandemic peaks.
The most expensive city in which to rent as of the end of 2021 was New York City. According to Zumper, the median one-bedroom rent stood at $3,190 in New York City as of December, 2021. San Francisco came in second, with a median one-bedroom rent of $2,810.
No Midwest cities — not even Chicago — made Zumper’s list of the 10 most expensive cities in which to rent in 2021.
As part of its year-end rental report, Zumper surveyed 9,057 renters from all 50 U.S. states and Washington D.C. from October through November of last year. These renters told Zumper that finding a place to rent in many U.S. cities was a challenge throughout 2021. Evidence of this? The number of respondents who said they had filed just one application during their last apartment search dropped by 14.5 percentage points.
Renters also told Zumper that they appreciated the convenience of virtual apartment tours, indicating that such tours aren’t going to disappear. More than 16 percent of Zumper survey respondents said that they signed an apartment lease after viewing their units only through a virtual tour. That percentage was unchanged from 2020.