Why Rents Are Climbing Fast in the Suburbs
Money + Markets

Why Rents Are Climbing Fast in the Suburbs

© Mick Tsikas / Reuters

For decades, Americans looking for more affordable housing options have left cities for the suburbs, but it’s getting tougher to find deals on suburban rentals these days.

For the first time in four years, the cost of renting property in the suburbs grew faster than the cost of city rentals, according to a new analysis by Zillow. While nationally the difference in rental price increases is relatively small (2.5 percent for suburban versus 2.3 percent for urban rentals), the difference is bigger in areas with booming housing markets.

Related: The 9 States With the Hottest Housing Markets

In San Francisco, for example, where rents comprise nearly 44 percent of the median income, rental prices in the suburbs went up 2.6 percent, while rental costs in the city declined slightly.

The cities seeing the biggest jumps in suburban rents were Seattle, where suburban rents rose 8.2 percent, Portland, Oregon, (6.5 percent) and Los Angeles (5.2 percent).

The trend reflects growing demand for suburban properties from city dwellers looking to reduce their housing costs, as well as an overall shift toward renting rather than buying homes. Renters occupied more than 19 percent of single-family homes last year, up from less than 13 percent in 2005, according to Zillow.

Still, even as rents climb faster in the suburbs, they remain lower in most cases than rents inside of cities, and there are other cost savings. An analysis earlier this year by Zillow and Care.com found that on average, families saved more than $9,000 per year on housing and child care-released expenses by moving from the city to the suburbs.