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February Rents Rise to New High, Take Bigger Chunk of Paychecks

In February, national rents grew 17.1% year-over-year to a new high of $1,792 per month, representing a higher share of household incomes (29.7%) than in 2021 (24.8%)

New rental data shows affordability issues are on the rise, as Americans spent 30% of their monthly budgets on rents in February on average, according to the® Monthly Rental Report released today. February rents accounted for an even higher portion of household incomes in 14 of the 50 largest U.S. markets, with the list of least affordable areas dominated by Sun Belt metros like Miami, Tampa, Fla. and San Diego, Calif.

In February, the U.S. median rental price hit a new high of $1,792 and soared by double-digit percentages (+17.1% year-over-year) for the seventh month in a row. Among unit sizes, studio rents increased at the fastest annual pace, up 17.1% (+$215) to a median of $1,474. Larger unit rents also posted double-digit gains over February 2021: 1-bedrooms, up 16.4% (+$232) to $1,648; and 2-bedrooms, up 16.2% ($278) to $2,002.

“Whether it’s rent or mortgage payments, the general rule of thumb is to keep monthly housing costs to less than 30% of your income. And with rents surging nationwide, February data indicates that many renters’ budgets may be stretched beyond the affordability limit,” said® Chief Economist Danielle Hale. “With rents up by nearly 20% over the past two years, rental prices are likely to remain high, but we do expect some cooling from the recent accelerated pace. In light of mounting economic uncertainties and the conflict in Ukraine, some households will prefer to buy, in an effort to lock-in a largely fixed monthly payment as a hedge against further inflation. But fast-rising mortgage rates and still-limited numbers of homes for sale could mean some would-be buyers may stick with the flexibility of renting. With rental demand already outmatching supply, rental affordability will remain a challenge. For renters eager to make the transition to first-time buying, finding a relatively affordable rental is key to saving for a downpayment. Tools like the® Rent vs. Buy Calculator can help you frame the numbers in a meaningful way and make the choice that is right for you.”

February 2022 Rental Metrics – National

Unit SizeMedian RentChange over Feb. 2021Change over Feb. 2020
Overall$1,79217.1% ($261)18.8% ($283)
Studio$1,47417.1% ($215)11.7% ($154)
1-bed$1,64816.4% ($232)17.1% ($241)
2-bed$2,00216.2% ($278)21.2% ($350)

Affordability issues soar nationwide, led by Sun Belt metros
February data indicates that rents are increasingly straining Americans’ budgets, representing roughly 30% of typical household incomes. Year-over-year rent growth in February 2022 was four-times higher when compared to March 2020, before the onset of COVID, highlighting limited supply relative to demand. The acceleration in rents is largely driven by a growing segment of young households, many of whom are turning to renting in the face of the for-sale inventory crunch, record-high listing prices and climbing mortgage rates. In turn, many of the least affordable rental markets are also some of the most competitive areas for buying. These trends are illustrated in Sun Belt metros like Miami, Tampa and San Diego, which topped February’s lists of fastest-growing and least affordable rental markets, as well as the hottest homebuying destinations.

  • February rents made up 29.7% of the typical household income in the 50 largest U.S. metros, a higher share than during the same month in 2021 (25.3%). The rental share of income was even greater in 14 of these markets, led by Miami, at 59.5%; Los Angeles, at 46.0%; and Riverside, Calif., at 45.9% (see table below).
  • Representing nearly half of the country’s largest markets, the Sun Belt claimed half of February’s least affordable areas and all 10 of the fastest-growing rental markets, including four in Florida. The state’s low vacancy rates highlight rising rental affordability, with the Florida supply of vacant rental units (6.6%) declining drastically since 2009 (17.9%).
  • In Miami, the median rental price spiked 55.3% year-over-year in February, bringing it to the top of February’s least affordable markets. Although buying a starter home is more affordable than renting one in Miami, the local for-sale home market is also exploding. Compared to February 2021, listing prices were up 31.6% in Miami, which jumped 25 spots on the latest® Hottest Markets Ranking.

Least Affordable Rental Markets (Feb. 2022)

RankMetro AreaMedian
Rental Share
of Income
Rental Shareof Income YoYMaximum
Affordable Rent
1Miami, Fla.$2,92959.5%37.8%$1,476
2Los Angeles, Calif.$2,99346.0%39.1%$1,952
3Riverside, Calif.$2,67845.9%40.5%$1,752
4Tampa, Fla.$2,09844.7%33.1%$1,407
5San Diego, Calif.$3,00842.9%35.0%$2,105
6New York, N.Y.$2,72540.9%36.7%$1,997
7Las Vegas, Nev.$1,60039.6%30.9%$1,213
8New Orleans, La.$1,72537.2%32.5%$1,392
9Orlando, Fla.$1,84336.7%26.8%$1,506
10Phoenix, Ariz.$1,85534.7%27.9%$1,628
11Sacramento, Calif.$2,02931.8%28.6%$1,912
12Memphis, Tenn.$1,38531.4%25.3%$1,324
13Cleveland, Ohio$1,37830.7%29.2%$1,345
14San Francisco, Calif.$2,97030.5%28.2%$2,921

Middle America rental markets offer relative affordability
Although rental affordability is dwindling at the national level, February data offers some good news for some renters, depending on where they live. In many large markets in Middle America, for instance, February rents came in below the recommended max share of monthly paychecks. Additionally, the area accounted for more than half of February’s most affordable rental markets, including Kansas City, Oklahoma City and St. Louis. Still, with February rent growth outpacing incomes even in these relatively affordable areas, renters devoted more of their monthly paychecks towards housing costs than in 2021.

  • After making a swift recovery from earlier COVID setbacks, rents grew over 2021 in each of the 50 largest U.S. metros in February, up by double-digits in 39 markets. February rent growth was in single-digit territory in the remaining 11 metros, keeping rental costs to a lower share of incomes in many of these areas.
  • At No. 8 on the February list of most affordable rental markets, Minneapolis posted the country’s second lowest annual rental price gains, up just 4.5% year-over-year. Compared to a metro like Miami, where rental affordability has dropped dramatically, Minneapolis rents were significantly lower in February ($1,558 vs. $2,929).
  • In February, Middle America dominated the top 10 list of most affordable rental markets, with rents taking up less than 30% of typical household incomes in metros like Kansas City, at 19.9%; Oklahoma City, at 21.1%; and St. Louis, at 22.3%.
  • At the same time, with housing affordability declining and mortgage rates climbing nationwide, Middle America renters might consider putting their monthly savings on rent towards buying a first home. In the No. 1 most affordable rental market of Kansas City, monthly starter home costs were 21.7% lower than rents in January, but also grew double-digits over 2021.

Most Affordable Rental Markets (Feb. 2022)

RankMetro AreaMedian
Rental Share
of Income
Rental Shareof Income YoYMaximum
Affordable Rent
1Kansas City, Mo.$1,21619.9%18.2%$1,832
2Oklahoma City, Okla.$92321.1%19.0%$1,314
3Denver, Colo.$1,92121.9%19.0%$2,631
4St. Louis, Mo.$1,29922.3%20.7%$1,749
5Washington, D.C.$2,07822.7%20.4%$2,746
6Indianapolis, Ind.$1,21523.0%20.7%$1,587
7Louisville, Ky.$1,20023.0%20.5%$1,564
8Minneapolis, Minn.$1,55823.0%22.1%$2,028
9Houston, Texas$1,42023.4%21.1%$1,823
10Raleigh, N.C.$1,56123.5%19.9%$1,990

January 2022 Rental Metrics – 50 Largest U.S. Metros*

Statistical Area
Overall Median
Rent YoY
Median Rent
Rent YoY
2-br Rent
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, Ga.$1,81219.6%$1,68419.3%$1,68519.7%$2,00018.7%
Austin-Round Rock, Texas$1,77328.1%$1,42020.8%$1,63028.7%$1,92524.4%
Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, Md.$1,77013.5%$1,47912.3%$1,69915.6%$1,85010.8%
Birmingham-Hoover, Ala.$1,1859.2%$1,0406.9%$1,1175.3%$1,25811.7%
Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, N.Y.$1,29510.0%$1,09546.0%$1,15812.2%$1,3906.1%
Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, N.C.-S.C.$1,62119.7%$1,48121.6%$1,52819.5%$1,77717.3%
Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, Ill.-Ind.-Wis.$1,81710.1%$1,3283.1%$1,81113.2%$2,0004.7%
Cincinnati, Ohio-Ky.-Ind.$1,3957.8%$1,1339.5%$1,3469.1%$1,5083.4%
Cleveland-Elyria, Ohio$1,3786.0%$9657.9%$1,3196.5%$1,5008.7%
Columbus, Ohio$1,24911.7%$1,0283.6%$1,15710.9%$1,3589.7%
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas$1,61020.2%$1,35319.5%$1,47522.9%$1,90021.9%
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colo.$1,92115.7%$1,61216.6%$1,80115.4%$2,24117.7%
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, Mich.$1,3734.2%$1,0743.3%$1,1474.7%$1,5001.9%
Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, Conn.$1,64813.3%$1,48036.8%$1,4888.6%$1,88815.6%
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas$1,42013.8%$1,30813.3%$1,29515.9%$1,59814.4%
Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, Ind.$1,21510.9%$1,04011.2%$1,1178.3%$1,34912.5%
Jacksonville, Fla.$1,57024.9%$1,1557.0%$1,45523.1%$1,70826.5%
Kansas City, Mo.-Kan.$1,21611.1%$1,0298.9%$1,07711.8%$1,40111.8%
Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, Nev.$1,60025.1%$1,2548.1%$1,50529.4%$1,71626.8%
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, Calif.$2,99320.1%$2,21819.9%$2,75124.3%$3,40217.4%
Louisville/Jefferson County, Ky.-Ind.$1,20012.2%$1,0094.6%$1,10510.3%$1,35010.0%
Memphis, Tenn.-Miss.-Ark.$1,38524.2%$1,24823.4%$1,31923.3%$1,50728.9%
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, Fla.$2,92955.3%$2,42051.2%$2,57053.2%$3,24849.9%
Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, Wis.$1,5059.0%$1,1957.4%$1,4026.9%$1,74011.5%
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minn.-Wis.$1,5584.5%$1,2222.6%$1,4654.3%$1,8954.1%
Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, Tenn.$1,69020.9%$1,70924.1%$1,57520.2%$1,81820.4%
New Orleans-Metairie, La.$1,72511.3%$1,40012.0%$1,5082.2%$1,9658.2%
New York-Newark-Jersey City, N.Y.-N.J.-Pa.$2,72511.5%$2,50025.0%$2,4825.7%$3,0138.0%
Oklahoma City, Okla.$9238.8%$80018.5%$85010.5%$99810.9%
Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Fla.$1,84335.4%$1,62027.2%$1,71835.0%$2,09842.7%
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, Pa.-N.J.-Del.-Md.$1,7518.7%$1,44412.6%$1,6796.1%$1,9505.5%
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz.$1,88525.0%$1,45126.2%$1,64825.8%$2,20021.4%
Pittsburgh, Pa.$1,5008.8%$1,2107.5%$1,49015.7%$1,6309.5%
Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Ore.-Wash.$1,72512.0%$1,39710.9%$1,66611.1%$2,00412.8%
Raleigh, N.C.$1,56120.7%$1,47226.6%$1,44022.4%$1,75021.7%
Richmond, Va.$1,41416.5%$1,10512.8%$1,28817.0%$1,53416.0%
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif.$2,67814.2%$1,450-3.6%$2,17019.7%$2,97012.0%
Rochester, N.Y.$1,3089.0%$9576.4%$1,2059.5%$1,3985.3%
Sacramento–Roseville–Arden-Arcade, Calif.$2,02913.1%$1,92017.9%$1,88011.1%$2,20013.1%
San Antonio-New Braunfels, Texas$1,37923.4%$1,27925.3%$1,25223.4%$1,56822.8%
San Diego-Carlsbad, Calif.$3,00825.4%$2,38822.2%$2,72723.8%$3,36924.9%
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif.$2,97012.1%$2,35517.9%$2,75013.3%$3,45011.1%
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.$3,02414.2%$2,41623.3%$2,81014.6%$3,44114.8%
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Wash.$2,10417.1%$1,75825.0%$2,07916.8%$2,51612.6%
St. Louis, Mo.-Ill.$1,2999.1%$9993.5%$1,2259.8%$1,4289.8%
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla.$2,09832.3%$1,87526.1%$1,86733.1%$2,34933.8%
Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, Va.-N.C.$1,50513.8%$1,30011.6%$1,42810.8%$1,60213.3%
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-Va.-Md.-W. Va.$2,07812.3%$1,70513.6%$1,98511.0%$2,43110.5%

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Carl Fox

Carl Fox is the senior money and finance writer for Conservative Daily News. Follow him in the "Money & The Economy" section at CDN and see his posts on the "Junior Economists" Facebook page.

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