Why Renters Are Moving to the Suburbs

Print Email

The number of renters is growing faster in the suburbs of 19 of 20 U.S. cities than in the cities themselves, according to a recent report from researchers at RENTCafé. The reason should not be a big surprise: rents are lower.

In 18 of 20 metro areas, renting in the suburbs is cheaper than renting in urban areas. RENTCafé calculated that a suburban renter saves about one month’s worth of rent on average every year (11%). The two exceptions are St. Louis ($12 a month cheaper in the city) and Phoenix (no difference).

Interestingly, St. Louis is one of four cities where renter numbers have risen by more than three times between 2011 and 2015, the five-year period covered by the RENTCafé study. Other cities where suburban renter growth was at least triple urban renter growth were Atlanta, Riverside, and Boston.

Here’s RENTCafé’s list of 10 metro areas, along with the net gain in suburban renters and the percentage increase in the five-year period covered by the study.

  1. Atlanta: net gain of 56,000; up 26%
  2. Phoenix: 37,500; 23%
  3. Riverside: 60,500; 23%
  4. Tampa: 33,500; 18%
  5. Dallas: 52,600; 17%
  6. Minneapolis: 28,300; 15%
  7. Detroit: 23,000; 14%
  8. Miami: 56,800; 14%
  9. Denver: 16,700; 14%
  10. Houston: 19,600; 13%

For the full report, visit the RENTCafé website.

In the Atlanta suburbs, for example, RENTCafé reports an average rent of $1,006. According to the Zumper National Rental Report for April, a one-bedroom apartment in the city of Atlanta has a median rent of $1,330.

Zumper also reports that the most expensive U.S. city for one-bedroom rentals is San Francisco, followed by New York, San Jose, Boston and Los Angeles. In four of those cities rents are down year over year in May: San Francisco, down 5.3%; New York, down 5.5%; San Jose, down 7.0%; and Boston, down 3.5%. Rent in Los Angeles rose 0.5% year over year.