US Cities With Highest Rent [Updated 2021]

by JD Esajian | @JDEsajian
Published on Wed, Aug 11 2021

Key Takeaways:

Have you ever wondered where the cities with the highest rent are? Which cities, specifically, can landlords expect to receive the highest rent in the US? If for nothing else, owning rental properties in a market where asking prices are high could increase your net operating income (NOI) considerably. It may literally pay to know where you stand to make the most money in the rental market.

The US housing market has become synonymous with cycles, not the least of which will witness significant rises and drops in prices. As a result, we have seen a great deal of equity return to places it was once thought gone forever. However, as prices have increased, so too have rental rates.  In fact, rents are historically high throughout the US housing market, and there doesn’t seem to be any sign of them tapering off anytime soon. It’s worth noting, however, that while renters may not love the idea of paying more, those with passive income portfolios are enjoying the current state of the US housing market.

Buying Vs Renting: US Housing Market Analysis

As the US housing market continues to flourish, one thing has become very apparent for non-homeowners: rental prices are rising. The surge in rental costs isn’t surprising, considering the national homeownership rate continues to drop. In 2018, homeownership dropped to a lower rate than in 1994, when the rate was bottomed out at 64.2%. Simply put, fewer people are buying homes and turning to the rental market to meet their housing needs. As a result, demand in the rental arena has enabled renters to increase prices at a rate that has kept pace with national home values.

“With homeownership rates falling, it makes sense for landlords to continue to raise pricing on their rental units, especially in markets with tighter inventory,” said Sam Radbil, spokesman for rental listings firm Abodo.

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most expensive rent in us

Average Rent By City 2021

Real estate has experienced several dramatic changes in the last year, but one constant has been the cities with the highest rent. Perhaps unsurprisingly, some of the country’s largest urban areas continue to have the highest average rents. According to research from Apartment Guide, are some of the most expensive real estate markets in 2021 for renters:

  1. New York, NY: $3,825
  2. San Francisco, CA: $3,188
  3. Boston, MA: $3,117
  4. San Jose, CA: $2,476
  5. Washington D.C.: $2,199

5. Washington D.C

Despite experiencing a slight decrease in rent prices year over year, Washington D.C. is still one of the most expensive rental markets in the country. On average, a one-bedroom apartment goes for $2,199 a month, and two-bedroom units are around $3,075. COVID-19 is thought to be the cause of the slight decrease in rental demand and cost in the city.

4. San Jose, CA

San Jose remains one of the most expensive rental markets, with an average rent of $2,476 for a one-bedroom apartment. Despite COVID-19 pushing many companies to adopt work-from-home policies, average rent in the city rose above 2020 levels. The trend is expected to continue as San Jose continues to experience high demand from renters.

3. Boston, MA

Third on the list is Boston, where a one-bedroom apartment roughly costs $3,117 a month. The steep rent price can be attributed to high demand and low supply. Boston has experienced consistent population growth for the last decade, and there aren’t enough apartments to keep up with demand.

2. San Francisco, CA

San Francisco has experienced one of the most significant decreases in rent prices over the last year, going from around $3,500 to $3,188 for a one-bedroom apartment. That being said, the city is still high on the list for the most expensive rent in the country. Many attribute this year’s decrease to the pandemic and its effects on the job market.

1. New York, NY

The most populous city in the country moved up two spots on the list and is now the most expensive rental market this year. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in NYC is currently at $3,825. Average rent is expected to increase as companies move their employees back into offices in the city.

Average Rent By City 2020 (Median 1BR Rent)

The 2020 real estate market has seen a number of changes, some of which were entirely unexpected. That being said, the top rental markets remain to be cities with high job and population growth. According to a study by Zumper, the following markets have the highest average rent:

  1. San Francisco, CA: $3,500
  2. New York, NY: $3,000
  3. Boston, MA: $2,590
  4. Oakland, CA: $2,500
  5. San Jose, CA: $2,450
  6. Los Angeles, CA: $2,260
  7. Washington, DC: $2,260
  8. Seattle, WA: $1,890
  9. San Diego, CA: $1,790
  10. Miami, FL: $1,800

What Is The Most Expensive Rent In The US? (2020)

San Francisco has been home to the most expensive rent in the US for several years in a row, but average rents are not increasing year to year as much as they have in the past. The reason so many of the most expensive rental markets remain that way is simply a lack of space. The year’s highest rents belong to some of the country’s most populated cities. Additionally, as in years past, cities remain attractive for renters who find themselves “settling down” and buying properties much later in life. The trend of living with roommates or friends also continues to attract new tenants to some of the most popular markets. Stacy Brown, Director of Technical Training atReal Property Management, states that “one of the disadvantages of owning rental property in a city with high average rent is they tend to have higher tax rates. The market rent drives property values higher. An advantage, however, is you will be able to get more quality and qualified renters to place in those properties.” Learn more about the year’s most expensive rental markets below:

5. San Jose, CA

Located in the heart of Silicon, San Jose has seen high rental prices for similar reasons: population growth and tech industry expansion. While the average rent of a one-bedroom in San Jose has decreased from $2,490 in 2019 to $2,450 in 2020, the market remains on the top ten list for most expensive rental markets in the country. This can be seen a little better by looking at average two-bedroom rents, which increased by .3 percent in the last year to an average price of $2,910.

4. Oakland, CA

Oakland is another Bay Area city to make the list of most expensive rent in the US. Rental prices are slightly more expensive than San Jose, at $2,500 on average for a one-bedroom. However, compared to 2019 average rents, Oakland did see a pretty significant jump from $2,350. This increase in demand could be yet another result of limited space and increased job growth in the area.

3. Boston, MA

This East Coast city is another market with a steep year-over-year jump. A one-bedroom in Boston increased from $2,490 in 2019 to $2,590 in 2020. Investors may find it interesting that while the average rent for one-bedroom apartments increased, two bedrooms saw a slight decrease. According to Zumper’s national rent report, two-bedroom rentals dropped around .7 percent year over year. The average two-bedroom rent is now around $2,930. However, it remains to be one of the most expensive markets as a whole.

2. New York, NY

It often surprises beginner investors to learn that New York is not the most expensive rental market in the US, though it is close. The average one-bedroom rent for 2020 is hovering at around $3,000. This is a one percent increase year over year, a trend that many are predicting will continue.

1. San Francisco

At number one on the list, this California city has an average rent of $3,500 for a one-bedroom apartment. San Francisco has long been one of the most expensive rental markets in the US, and it shows no signs of slowing down. Though the year-over-year increase is less than one percent, this city has gotten consistently more costly for renters in recent years.

Average Rent By City 2019 (Median 1BR Rent)

  1. San Francisco, CA: $3,500
  2. New York, NY: $2,750
  3. San Jose, CA: $2,490
  4. Boston, MA: $2,450
  5. Los Angeles, CA: $2,420
  6. Oakland, CA: $2,350
  7. Washington, DC: $2,100
  8. San Diego, CA: $1,950
  9. Seattle, WA: $1,900
  10. Miami, FL: $1,800

Highest rents in us

What Is The Most Expensive Rent In The US? (2019)

The most expensive rent in the US in 2019 is $3,500 for a 1 bedroom median unit in San Francisco, CA, up just $100 from the previous year. This same trend of slow increases can be seen across the board, as rent growth has tapered in recent history. As a result, changes resembled a flat line than exponential jumps on the charts for the cities with the highest rent in the US. The cities with the highest rent in the US stayed relatively stable, except for Miami reentering the discussion. However, it is worth noting that while the most expensive cities didn’t see too many changes, the majority of large rent growths continued to be located in the mid to lower-tiered markets.

According to Zumper’s 2019 National Rent Report, “the national one-bedroom median rent grew 0.4% to $1,217, while two bedrooms increased 0.1% to $1,440 last month. On a year to date basis, one bedroom rent is down 3.1%, while two bedrooms are up 3.7%,” Now, let’s take a look at how the most expensive cities have done recently:

10. Miami, FL

The Miami real estate market continues to use its white sand beaches and vibrant lifestyle accommodations to its advantage, and the local rental market has become a primary beneficiary. As evidenced by the 2.9 percent year-over-year increase in one-bedroom rents, Miami still has a lot of rental demand, and savvy investors could use it to their advantage.

9. Seattle, WA

Real estate in Seattle has helped set the torrid pace for the national housing market as it continues to appreciate. However, as median home values have increased in recent years, so too have rental asking prices in Seattle. In the last year, rents have increased an impressive five percent. In the early part of 2019, however, asking prices have started to flatline.

8. San Diego, CA

Of all the cities with the highest rent in the US, none saw rents increase more than the San Diego real estate market in the last year. As recently as the beginning of 2019, the median rent in San Diego for a one-bedroom apartment increased by as much as 12.7 percent over the previous year. Meanwhile, it’s safe to assume rents will continue to increase for the foreseeable future if prices keep headed in their current direction.

7. Washington, D.C.

The Washington, D.C. rental market managed to keep its place in the top ten cities with the highest rent despite its own rates dropping considerably. In the year leading up to 2019, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment dropped by as much as 10.3 percent, making it the only city in the top 10 to decline by double digits. However, despite the decline, Washington, D.C. still appears to carry plenty of potential for interested investors.

6. Oakland, CA

Yet another California city to make the list, Oakland is only second to San Diego when it comes to year-over-year rent growth. While the Oakland real estate market didn’t reach double digits like its southern counterpart, it did manage to increase average rental asking prices by as much as 8.8 percent in as little as one year.

5. Los Angeles, CA

The Los Angeles real estate market saw rents increase by as much as 5.2 percent in the last year, but like many of the other cities on this list, rent growth started to temper as 2019 kicked off. In the month leading up to the new year, rent growth managed a modest 0.4 percent increase. However, look for rent growth to remain capped for the foreseeable future by the already high prices in the area.

4. Boston, MA

The Boston real estate market took a step back from previous years, but with a rent growth rate of 7.9 percent in the last year, the city still managed to get fourth place. However, it is worth noting that Boston saw a slight decline in rents recently, which seems to be the case with a lot of today’s primary cities.

3. San Jose, CA

The San Jose real estate market continues to be one of the nation’s hottest. As a result, San Jose has been able to maintain already high rents and grow them in one year, albeit at a modest 1.2 percent.

2. New York, NY

Surprisingly, the New York real estate market managed a year-over-year decline in rental rates. Over the course of 2018, the average rental rate in New York declined by 4.2 percent. What’s more, the rate doesn’t appear to be climbing. Again, rental rates in cities with prices as high as New York may be reaching their pinnacle.

1. San Francisco, CA

San Francisco has served as the poster child for the entire housing market recovery. If for nothing else, San Francisco sits on its own pedestal as the most expensive market in the country. However, despite being the most expensive city to rent in, San Francisco only managed a 2.9 percent growth in rent. In fact, leading up to 2019, rents started to decline, which could single yet another city on the verge of tempering.

Average Rent By City 2018 (Median 1BR Rent)

  1. San Francisco, CA: $3,400
  2. New York, NY: $2,900
  3. San Jose, CA: $2,470
  4. Boston, MA: $2,300
  5. Los Angeles, CA: $2,250
  6. Oakland, CA: $2,140
  7. Washington, DC: $2,130
  8. Seattle, WA: $1,890
  9. San Diego, CA: $1,800
  10. Miami, FL: $1,730

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The Most Expensive Cities In The US To Rent: 2018 Review

According to, rental prices nationwide for one-bedroom units reached a record high in March 2018, with a staggering 8.9 percent drop thereafter. However, the US markets with the highest rent have shown stability, such as in San Francisco, New York, and San Jose. Although national trends for one-bedroom rents fluctuated in the first quarter, two-bedroom units have shown stable growth.

Based on the median prices for a 1-bedroom, the following highlights the top U.S. cities with the highest rents in 2018:

10. Miami, FL

The Magic City continued to be a hotbed for rental properties, and its monthly rent cost reflected the demand. The average rental price in Miami is now $1,730; However, concerning income, only 6.9 percent of rental properties were affordable in the Miami metro area.

9. San Diego, CA

America’s “Finest City” ranked on many real estate “hotlists,” such as one published by San Diego is a strong seller’s market, which has given landlords the leeway to raise rent prices as long as housing inventory remains in shortage. As a result, rental prices increased 13.9 percent year over year, the most drastic annual growth represented in the top 10 markets.

8. Seattle, WA

For a while, rental prices in Seattle grew faster than any other big city in the country. Previously the tenth most expensive city in the US, the Emerald City quickly outpaced Miami, FL. Rental prices increased by 4.4% year-over-year.

7. Washington, DC

The nation’s capital was known for rapidly increasing rental rates over several decades, but it looks as though the tides may have turned. Rents for both one and two-bedroom units in the D.C. area decreased, with a median one-bedroom rental rate of $2,130.

6. Oakland, CA

Located in the busy Bay Area of California, Oakland has quietly moved up rental ranking charts over the years. For example, the median rental price for a one-bedroom in Oakland is $2,130, while a two-bedroom comes in around $2,470.

5. Los Angeles, CA

The Los Angeles real estate market is booming, and rental prices mirror that uptick, as the average monthly rental price is $2,250. However, in terms of affordability, the troubling aspect in LA is rental prices are growing much faster for low-end apartments and homes, where annual rent growth has exceeded more than 27 percent in the past year. Without a doubt, it’s very, very expensive to rent in the City of Angels.

4. Boston, MA

Another city experiencing major growth in rental prices is Boston. The city has seen significant growth in the past year, with rents increasing by 4.5 percent. The average monthly rental price for a 2-bedroom in Boston is $2,700, while 1-bedroom rates are at a median of $2,300. That said, the Boston real estate market is one of the more expensive in the country.

3. San Jose, CA

Nestled by the rolling hills in Silicon Valley, San Jose has become a real estate juggernaut with some of the highest rental prices in the nation, with an average monthly rental price is $2,470.

2. New York, NY

As #2 on this list, rental prices don’t get much more expensive than the Big Apple. New York is the epicenter for expensive real estate, and renters are feeling it. In just the past month, rents for a median two-bedroom apartment in New York increased 1.7 percent. The New York real estate market remains one of the hottest in the country.

1. San Francisco, CA

San Francisco and New York have rivaled each other for the title of the most expensive city for renters. However, this time around, San Francisco takes the lead. With a median one-bedroom rent price of $3,400 ($500 more than the medium in the Big Apple), San Francisco shows no signs of relinquishing its position of having the highest rent in the US.


Many of the cities with the highest rent in the US housing market have continued to become more costly since the end of the last recession. As rents continue to rise, those looking to build a passive income portfolio may find it difficult to accumulate assets with such high potential. As a result, it may be a good idea to look into secondary cities, where rental prices are high but not as high as those mentioned above. In addition, as experts speculate what the year ahead will hold, investors should look carefully at potentially new markets to invest in. When done correctly, a passive income property managed in a popular rental market can be quite profitable.

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