Favorable economic factors in 2018 and rising interest rates pushed the U.S. average monthly rent to $1,419 by year-end—3.1 percent or $42 more than at the end of 2017, according to RENTCafe’s December blog, a service of Yardi Systems.
The cost of renting an apartment started seeing annual increases above 2.5 percent in February and peaked in September at $1,422. Cheap apartments and studios were the most searched rental terms in 2018, showing that the interest in rentals was driven by a cost-conscious mindset this past year. Soaring rents have kept renter mega-hubs Las Vegas (7.9 percent), Phoenix (7.7 percent) and Los Angeles (6.6 percent) on the podium in terms of rent growth for most of the year, with Florida's largest markets hot on their heels: Jacksonville (6.3 percent), Orlando (6.1 percent) and Tampa (5.4 percent).
Throughout 2018, rents have seen the most fluctuation in small cities, with double-digit percentage increases in Texas markets Odessa and Midland, and in Reno, Nev. At the end of the year, Queens, N.Y., is the only large market with stagnating rents, and only two small cities, Baton Rouge, La., and College Station, Texas, see significant decreases.