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: ‘Renters are stuck between a rock and a hard place’: Suburban rents are catching up with big cities, putting more pressure on renters

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If you’re thinking of fleeing the city for cheaper rent in the suburbs, here’s a bit of bad news: The grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

In July, the rental-price advantage of living in the suburbs compared to urban areas slid by about 53% from the same point in 2019, according to a Realtor.com report released Wednesday.

In 2019, a suburban renter paid about $175 less each month, according to Realtor.com. Today? That difference has shrunk to $107. Big-city median monthly rents are currently $1,928 versus $1,821 in the suburbs.

“Whether in a downtown area or suburb, staying put or making a change, renters are stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to affordability,” Realtor.com chief economist Danielle Hale said in a statement. 

Rental prices are growing fast in the South and Northeast, led by Miami. Urban rents, meanwhile, are growing faster than suburban rents in cities including New York, Chicago, Boston, and Miami.

“‘Compared to three years ago when rental price premiums were typically concentrated in urban hubs, renting is now nearly as expensive in the suburbs.’”

— Realtor.com chief economist Danielle Hale

(Realtor.com is operated by News Corp subsidiary Move Inc., and MarketWatch is a unit of Dow Jones, which is also a subsidiary of News Corp.)

Still, “compared to three years ago when rental price premiums were typically concentrated in urban hubs, renting is now nearly as expensive in the suburbs, where the rise in remote work has driven a surge in demand,” Hale said in a statement.

But, here’s some good news: The growth in rental prices continues to moderate. While the national median rental price hit a new high in July — as it has for 17 consecutive months — it only increased by $3 over June to reach $1,879, according to Realtor.com. 

What’s more, landlords surveyed by Avail, which is also a part of Realtor.com, appeared to be softening their desire to jack up rents.

Only 20% of the surveyed landlords planning increases intended to raise housing costs by more than 10%, compared to the 25.4% who planned to raise rents by more than 10% in April. (The landlords raising rents largely indicated they were doing so mainly due to rising ownership costs, including property tax increases, according to Avail.)

For renters looking to save money, the best solution may be to stay put. While many renters who experienced price increases are looking to move to a more affordable rental, renters who moved within the past year reported 27% higher prices than whatever they faced in their previous homes, according to Avail.

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