Published by REALTOR.com | February 1, 2021
Since COVID-19 shut down just about every perk that makes living in a teeny, overpriced urban studio apartment even remotely worth it, there’s been a whole lot of talk of a mass exodus from the big, expensive cities. After all, the thinking goes, if you’re jonesing for more elbow room and likely to be working from home well into the future, why not go elsewhere for a fraction of the price?
While there are still plenty of buyers willing to wait out the closures in downtown metros, rents fell in 37 of the nation’s 100 largest counties in December, according to Realtor.com®’s monthly rent report. Rental prices are plummeting the most in the highest-priced tech hubs with lots of white-collar workers whose offices have closed due to the pandemic and can suddenly work from anywhere with a reliable internet connection.
“Some of the major factors that attract renters to dense downtowns—proximity to work and restaurants and fun things to do—are not currently relevant. Without these strong lures, many renters are looking to save money and get some more space by moving to the suburbs.”
–Realtor.com Chief Economist Danielle Hale
Hale expects rents to bounce back after the vaccines have been fully rolled out. But whether prices will return to pre-pandemic levels remains to be seen.
In the meantime, renters can find some pretty darn impressive deals in the big cities—if they act fast.
To figure out where rental prices have dropped the most, the Realtor.com economics team looked at the median year-over-year prices of one-bedroom apartments, townhomes, condos, and homes for rent in the 100 largest counties in December.