Which US cities are renters flocking to this year?

by Kasi Johnston10 Feb 2020

American renters are making moves.

Apartment List released their first quarterly renter migration report for the year, using data from millions of searches on their platform to see where users were preparing to move.

Denver drew the largest share of renters with nearly half of searches coming from users currently living outside the metro.

“With a thriving job market, fueled by a years-long tech boom, Denver continues to attract renters from around the country, even as the area’s housing costs continue to increase,” said Chris Salviati, housing economist at Apartment List. More than 10% of searches of the Denver area came from people in Washington D.C. along with 2.4% coming from San Francisco and just over 1% from Seattle.

Baltimore, MD followed closely behind Denver on the list due to its proximity to Washington D.C., one of the most expensive rental markets. Baltimore is about 45 minutes away from the nation’s capital and is considered an affordable alternative for renters. San Diego and Tampa, FL were also among the metros that are attracting new renters from out of town.

On the other end of the spectrum, people weren’t as interested in moving to Detroit, Chicago or Miami. The report also found that many Orlando residents were looking to rent in other metros, despite a thriving economy.

“Despite having a high share of users who are searching outside the metro, Orlando also as a relatively high share of inbound searches, indicating the area is experiencing a changing population rather than a declining population,” according to the report. While many of the searchers in Florida were looking to move to other Florida locations, many renters interested in moving to Florida were coming from New York.

Over the last decade, Apartment List found that Nashville has the seventh fastest rate of population growth when compared to other large metros, and that’s expected to continue. More than half of renters looking at places in Nashville were from outside the city. The report also found that most people renting in Nashville want to stay there. Almost 72% of Nashville renters were searching for places within the city. As for the rest, some Nashville residents are eyeing Los Angeles.

Phoenix was a popular search destination for those living in LA, followed by Las Vegas. Renters in the Bay Area were mostly looking to stay local, with some San Francisco residents looking for a short move to San Jose or Sacramento.

“As super commuting and remote work become increasingly popular, Sacramento may be starting to draw tech workers even as they maintain jobs in San Francisco or San Jose,” Salviati said in the report.

This could lead to Sacramento emerging as a more affordable alternative for some early stage startups. Unlike other parts of the Bay Area, two-thirds of apartment hunters in Boston want to stay there, despite it being a pricier area to rent. Almost 38% of Apartment List users in D.C. are looking to move out to other areas. Baltimore and Philadelphia are popular choices, considering their closeness to the D.C.

The study by Apartment List looked at all their searches between June and December of 2019.