Rental prices are continuing to shatter records—especially in Florida.
Nationally, the monthly median rent hit $1,807 in March, costing tenants nearly 20% more than what they paid just two years ago, according to the latest Realtor.com® rental report. They rose even higher in Florida, where several of the big cities saw astronomical increases.
“Florida has seen a surge of new residents over the past two years. The moves were also encouraged by the state’s early actions to reopen its business and tourism sectors and relax pandemic restrictions,” says George Ratiu, manager of economic research for Realtor.com. “Along with retirees looking for great quality of life and low living expenses, the state has welcomed many young professionals and families. With tight supply of housing and low vacancy, demand for housing pushed rents to new highs.”
The report looked at studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartments, condos, townhomes, and single-family homes advertised on Realtor.com in March.
Oklahoma City was the most affordable major metro and the only one with median rent below $1,000 a month. (A metro includes the main city and surrounding towns, suburbs, and smaller urban areas.)
In Florida, rents shot up 57.2% in the Miami metro area compared with a year ago. They rose 35% in Orlando and 31.1% in the Tampa/ St. Petersburg metros. That’s been driven by an influx of new residents during the COVID-19 pandemic who are looking for places to live.
“The [Florida] economy is strong,” says Kent Rodahaver, real estate broker of NextHome South Pointe, with offices in St. Petersburg and Gainesville. “We don’t have state income tax like a lot of other places in the country, and the cost of living is still relatively reasonable.”
Weather is, of course, also a large part of the draw. People who have been working from offices in Washington state, New York, and the upper Midwest can now soak up the sun working from their patio—in their new home in the Sunshine State.
Pandemic policies such as mask and vaccination requirements in other states are another factor that drove people to Florida. Businesses are also flocking to the area, bringing jobs and new residents along with them.
Potential first-time homebuyers are also remaining renters longer, because they’re losing bidding wars or are priced out of homeownership.
“A lot of what you’re seeing is people who have sold a home recently,” says Rodahaver. “They’re relocating here, but they don’t know the area well enough. So they’ll rent for six months to a year while they become familiar with the area.”