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Top Cities with the Biggest Rent Growth Within the Last Five Years

March 6, 2019

Rent prices have been rising all around the nation. If you’ve noticed more and more rental communities popping up around your town, it is likely because construction is trying to keep up with the demand for rental spaces. Additionally, there is a surge of high-income renters, adding to the need for rental supply. We’ve compiled a list of top cities in three size categories (based on population), that have had the most noticeable growth of rent prices over the past five years.

Many of the cities that made the three “top ten” lists are located in California, indicating the ongoing affordability crisis in the state. In most cities highlighted on this list, new construction is struggling to keep pace with demanding, economically booming metropolitan areas. In part, this has been spurring hikes in rent prices in the surrounding suburbs.

Out of large cities, Aurora, CO came out on top with 34.5% growth in rental prices the last 5 years.
Top Large Cities with Highest Rent Growth in the Last 5 Years, Population: >250,000.
City NamePrice Change Over 5 YearsPopulation
Aurora, CO34.50%325,078
Colorado Springs, CO30.80%416,427
Stockton, CA29.20%291,707
Arlington, TX28.40%365,438
Long Beach, CA25.60%462,257
Sacramento, CA24.60%466,488
Mesa, AZ24.40%439,041
San Jose, CA24.10%945,942
Tampa, FL23.40%335,709
Henderson, NV22.90%257,729

Booming city centers continue to get more and more expensive. Renters are struggling to keep up with rent rate growth and have started looking outside their core cities into the suburbs. This is spurring the rent growth in the suburbs of booming metros, such as Aurora, CO, and Stockton, CA. Arizona is also one of the fastest growing economies in the US, and Phoenix in particular, that’s why nearby Mesa, AZ also made our top ten list.

In addition to all the job opportunities, Denver, CO also made our top cities for dating list, making the area and its suburbs all the more attractive to millennial renters.

graph of rent growth in large cities

In the medium range, Salinas, CA took the #1 spot with 53.5% growth in rental prices in the last 5 years.
Top Medium Cities with Highest Rent Growth in the Last 5 Years, Population: 100,000 - 250,000.
City NamePrice Change Over 5 YearsPopulation
Salinas, CA53.50%150,441
Fairfield, CA38.10%105,321
Fremont, CA37.80%214,089
Salem, OR37.50%154,637
Simi Valley, CA36.80%124,237
Richmond, CA36.30%103,701
Vancouver, WA36.10%161,791
Thornton, CO35.50%118,772
Moreno Valley, CA35.00%193,365
Westminster, CO34.10%106,114

Rent rates are rising quickly in the suburbs of growing metros. Renters that work in major California hubs have a chance of finding more affordable rent opportunities in areas nearby, such as Santa Clara, Fremont, and Fairfield. Santa Clara is located near California’s tech hubs and is ever-growing. Job opportunities are abundant in this area, and that is sure to attract a large number of industry professionals causing a rise in demand for rental communities.

graph of rent rates across medium cities

Hillsboro, OR took first place for the small city category, with 48.3% growth in rental prices in the last 5 years.
Top Small Cities with Highest Rent Growth in the Last 5 Years, Population: 50,000-100,000.
City NamePrice Change Over 5 YearsPopulation
Hillsboro, OR48.30%91,611
Renton, WA42.40%90,927
Roswell, GA42.40%88,346
Sparks, NV42.40%90,264
Union City, CA40.90%69,516
Melbourne, FL40.30%76,068
Beaverton, OR39.90%89,803
Marietta, GA39.80%56,579
Smyrna, GA38.70%51,271
Kent, WA38.30%92,411

Among the smaller cities, places such as Union City, CA and Hillsboro, OR made the list of fastest growing cities in America. Largely, these currently lesser-populated cities are filling up primarily due to the same reasons as their larger counterparts that we mentioned above. Check out the full list:

graph of rent rate growth in small cities


Apartment List Rent Report data is drawn monthly from the millions of listings on our site. 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom rents are calculated as the median for units available in the specified size and time period. Price changes are calculated using a “same unit” methodology similar to the Case-Shiller “repeat sales” home prices methodology, taking the average price change for units available across both time periods. For top city rankings, we calculated median 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom rents in 100 top cities and then ranked them by 2-bedroom rents.

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Angelina Bader
Angelina is a Marketing Specialist at Apartment List where she writes content on rental lifestyle. Angelina previously worked as a Russian and German language specialist at Facebook and Google, and has a BA in Applied Linguistics from UCLA. Read More
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