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December Rental Data: Rents Surged by 10.1% in 2021 – News

December Highlights: 

  • December marks the sixth month in a row where rent growth has reached double digits for 0-2 bedrooms properties (19.3% Y/Y), pushing the median rent in the 50 largest metros to  $1,781. 
  • Median rents for two-bedroom units saw the first monthly decline in over a year; rent growth for one-bedroom units  plateaued; only studio units saw continuing growth in December.
  • Rent by size: Studio: $1,462, up 18.6% ($230) year-over-year; 1-bed: $1,651, up 19.3% ($267); 2-bed: $2,003, up 19.1% ($320).

End of Year Highlights: 

  • In 2021, the average year-over-year growth in median asking rents for 0-2 bedrooms properties was 10.1%, higher than our 2022 forecasted growth (7.1%).  
  • The most significant year-over-year rent growth was seen among two-bedroom units, with an average rate of 11.7%. The average growth for one-bedroom units was 10.0%, and the growth rate for studios was 6.1%.

In December, rent growth across the country hit 19.3% year-over-year for 0-2 bedrooms properties, and the median asking rent reached $1,781. It is the sixth consecutive month with double-digit growth and is over six times as fast as the growth rate seen just before the pandemic hit in March 2020. The annual growth was mostly driven by surging rents in spring and summer. The median December asking rent was little changed from its November level ($1,780), showing a sign of more typical winter seasonality.1

Figure 1: Rent YoY Trend Since the Start of the Pandemic

Rent YOY Dec 2021

In December, two-bedroom units saw the first monthly decline in over a year. The median rent slid down from $2,005 in November to a seasonal low of $2,003 in December. However, the median rent is still 19.1% ($320) higher than last December and 23.9% ($387) higher than in December 2019. 

The median price of one-bedroom units plateaued in December ($1,651) compared to its November value ($1,650). However, it is still 19.3% ($267) higher when compared to last December, and 20.0% ($275) more than in December 2019. 

Studio rentals is the only category that is seeing continuing monthly growth in December, with rents reaching $1,462 nationwide, up $14 from November and $230 (18.6%) year-over-year. The median monthly rent for studio units has increased by $174 (13.5%) since December 2019. It is at the highest level in our data history. Nationally, studio rents dipped by as much as 5% earlier in 2021 but have rebounded as economic recovery progresses.

Table 1: National Rents by Unit Size-December 2021

Unit SizeMedian RentRent YoYRent Change – 2 years








Figure 2: National Rent Trend by Unit Size

Unit Size Rent YOY Dec 2021

At the local level, continuing a trend seen in the November rental report, Miami, FL was the fastest growing metro area in December, with the median rent increasing 49.8% year-over-year. The other metros topping the list of fastest growing rents were Sun Belt areas, including: Tampa, FL; Orlando, FL; Las Vegas, NV; Memphis, TN; San Diego, CA; Jacksonville, FL; Austin, TX; Riverside, CA; and Phoenix, AZ, which all saw rents growing by over 25% compared to last December.

Table 2: Top 10 Markets for Rent Increases – December 2021

RankMetro AreaMedian RentRent YY
1Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL$2,85049.8%
2Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL$2,03835.0%
3Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL$1,80734.1%
4Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV$1,63129.8%
5Memphis, TN-MS-AR$1,32429.4%
6San Diego-Carlsbad, CA$2,97029.3%
7Jacksonville, FL$1,58329.0%
8Austin-Round Rock, TX$1,71728.7%
9Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA$2,55027.2%
10Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ$1,80026.7%

A Look Back at the 2021 Market 

2021 has been a wild year for the U.S. market. The median rent price surged from $1,493 to $1,781 within 12 months for 0-2 bedrooms properties. As a result, the average year-over-year growth rate in 2021 jumped to 10.1% nationally, while the rate in 2020 was only around 1.9%. 

Thanks to consistent preferences for larger homes over the last couple of years, the most significant price growth was seen among two-bedroom units in 2021. The median rent for a 2-bedroom unit has increased by $196 on average during the past 12 months, and its average year-over-year growth is 11.7%. One-bedroom units also saw significant rent growth in 2021. The median rent for a 1-bedroom unit increased by $139 during the past year, and the average change is 10.0%. While studios experienced a modest rent decline in the early stage of the pandemic, it started to rebound strongly in the second half of 2021 and has made up for the lost time. The median rent for a studio unit has increased by $76 when compared to last December, and its average year-over-year growth is 6.1%.

Table 3: Average Year-Over-Year Rent Growth  by Unit Size

Unit SizeGrowth in 2021Growth in 20202
Overall 10.1%1.9%
1-bed10.0%. 1.9%

At metro level, the fastest average year-over-year growth in median rents is observed in Riverside, CA, with a rate of 28.5%. Meanwhile, Bay Area rents declined on average for the year. In San Jose, CA the decline was less than 1% while in San Francisco, CA, the median rent declined by 2.5% on average. It is not surprising to see such results for urban tech cities. According to’s previous rental reports, tech hubs like San Francisco and San Jose experienced double-digit rent declines in early 2021, and the growth did not rebound to a positive rate until later months in 2021.  

Table 4: Metros with the Fastest and Slowest  Rent Growth – 2021

RankFastest Growth MetrosSlowest Growth Metros
1Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA28.5%San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA-2.5%
2Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL25.6%San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA-0.3%
3Memphis, TN-MS-AR23.0%Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI0.4%
4Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL22.1%Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH0.7%
5Sacramento–Roseville–Arden-Arcade, CA19.5%New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA1.4%
6Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV18.9%Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI2.4%
7Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ18.8%Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV3.0%
8San Diego-Carlsbad, CA17.5%Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI4.7%
9Jacksonville, FL17.2%Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD4.8%
10Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL16.3%Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA5.2%

2022 Market Outlook

After an entire year of rents surging, the price plateau in December may bring some relief to renters. However, the 2022 market may continue to see strong growth, squeezing price-conscious renters further. According to 2022 Housing Market Forecast and Predictions, rent growth in 2022 is expected to be around 7.1%, only slightly lower than the 2021 average year-over-year rate.

Demand and supply imbalances are expected to be a key driver of higher rents in 2022. On the demand side, the decrease in buyer sentiment caused by higher mortgage rates and high home prices may encourage more people to continue renting, increasing the demand for properties. In addition, given that the pandemic is now less disruptive to day-to-day life, those who moved to live with families– whether to save money during the initial economic uncertainty or to avoid loneliness by expanding their bubble during the global pandemic- may plan to move out and form new households. These new households will further boost demand and propel rent growth. On the supply side, materials shortages and  the prevalence of the Omicron variant, which is keeping many workers home in isolation or quarantine, will continue to hamper the construction of new rental homes. In addition, the spike in lumber prices and higher labor costs resulting from a competitive jobs market mean that homes that are built are likely to have a price premium.

Data – 50 Largest Metropolitan Areas – December 2021

MetroOverall Median RentOverall Rent YYStudio Median RentStudio Rent YY1-br Median Rent1-br Rent YY2-br Median Rent2-br Rent YY
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA$1,80821.8%$1,61118.9%$1,68923.7%$2,01021.4%
Austin-Round Rock, TX$1,71728.7%$1,44330.6%$1,56829.2%$1,91629.0%
Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD$1,76913.6%$1,59524.4%$1,70614.0%$1,87313.0%
Birmingham-Hoover, AL$1,24922.2%$1,0837.2%$1,19122.1%$1,31324.2%
Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH$2,72618.5%$2,47028.6%$2,53518.6%$3,00015.3%
Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NY$1,43520.1%$1,09838.6%$1,29521.0%$1,61519.6%
Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC$1,59821.3%$1,45623.2%$1,47520.4%$1,75517.9%
Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI$1,80011.6%$1,3608.5%$1,79815.3%$2,0005.5%
Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN$1,40015.9%$1,17517.5%$1,34617.8%$1,56217.8%
Cleveland-Elyria, OH$1,35216.9%$1,00026.7%$1,31919.9%$1,45013.9%
Columbus, OH$1,24714.1%$1,00812.1%$1,15015.1%$1,38515.6%
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX$1,59023.4%$1,35325.8%$1,45624.9%$1,89324.7%
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO$1,90117.9%$1,59818.3%$1,78119.0%$2,19218.2%
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI$1,40012.1%$1,15015.1%$1,24018.2%$1,52911.7%
Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT$1,72915.5%$1,32813.0%$1,61113.3%$2,02513.0%
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX$1,38915.9%$1,31219.5%$1,26317.3%$1,57017.0%
Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN$1,22612.0%$1,0236.0%$1,1178.8%$1,35612.9%
Jacksonville, FL$1,58329.0%$1,38029.9%$1,47630.3%$1,72831.2%
Kansas City, MO-KS$1,22511.2%$98910.5%$1,10010.5%$1,45512.4%
Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV$1,63129.8%$1,12632.4%$1,50530.3%$1,76929.4%
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA$2,95218.1%$2,25218.5%$2,70719.9%$3,46718.4%
Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN$1,18116.2%$9383.8%$1,07412.1%$1,32216.7%
Memphis, TN-MS-AR$1,32429.4%$1,17319.6%$1,31733.0%$1,37128.3%
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL$2,85049.8%$2,30044.4%$2,50747.1%$3,23444.1%
Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI$1,52711.0%$1,1959.1%$1,4038.0%$1,75811.6%
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI$1,5356.7%$1,2386.8%$1,4485.7%$1,87010.3%
Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, TN$1,69323.6%$1,67623.5%$1,60024.1%$1,81525.1%
New Orleans-Metairie, LA$1,77418.3%$995-16.8%$1,59513.9%$2,12525.0%
New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA$2,6706.8%$2,27511.9%$2,4433.1%$2,9803.2%
Oklahoma City, OK$94915.7%$7855.4%$89620.6%$1,00813.6%
Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL$1,80734.1%$1,60228.5%$1,67534.9%$2,04841.4%
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD$1,78711.9%$1,42713.0%$1,70310.7%$2,00011.1%
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ$1,80026.7%$1,43538.3%$1,59828.6%$2,09527.9%
Pittsburgh, PA$1,50018.5%$1,27531.4%$1,45822.5%$1,61313.4%
Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA$1,75916.8%$1,42413.7%$1,70517.0%$1,98517.0%
Providence-Warwick, RI-MA$2,00015.9%$1,6503.8%$1,75511.4%$2,26319.0%
Raleigh, NC$1,53223.6%$1,39322.5%$1,41725.1%$1,68223.1%
Richmond, VA$1,41918.2%$1,15317.2%$1,31622.3%$1,55819.3%
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA$2,55027.2%$1,58318.9%$2,15023.4%$2,83223.4%
Rochester, NY$1,33311.1%$9455.0%$1,2008.1%$1,49510.9%
Sacramento–Roseville–Arden-Arcade, CA$2,10321.6%$1,94520.4%$1,97321.4%$2,23921.0%
San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX$1,30619.4%$1,15317.9%$1,20420.5%$1,50222.1%
San Diego-Carlsbad, CA$2,97029.3%$2,32621.2%$2,71829.4%$3,35027.8%
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA$2,95611.1%$2,43319.1%$2,76012.8%$3,49010.7%
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA$2,99813.6%$2,46323.9%$2,77115.9%$3,41015.0%
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA$2,11021.9%$1,72826.7%$2,06922.5%$2,56325.1%
St. Louis, MO-IL$1,2629.7%$9751.3%$1,2009.1%$1,38811.0%
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL$2,03835.9%$1,88532.9%$1,84037.3%$2,26137.0%
Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC$1,50318.1%$1,2079.1%$1,42814.8%$1,60817.8%


data as of December 2021 for units advertised as for-rent on®. units include apartment communities as well as private rentals (condos, townhomes, single-family homes). All units were studio, 1-bedroom, or 2-bedroom units. We use communities that reliably report data each month within the top 50 largest metropolitan areas. National rents were calculated by averaging the medians of the 50 largest metropolitan areas.

Note: With the release of its December 2021 rent report,® incorporated a new and improved methodology for capturing and reporting rental listing trends and metrics. The new methodology is expected to yield a cleaner and more consistent measurement of rental listings and trends at both the national and local level. The methodology has been adjusted to better account for cases where new or missing data may not be completely at random. Most areas across the country will see minor changes with a smaller handful of areas seeing larger updates. As a result of these changes, the rental data released since January 2022 will not be directly comparable with previous releases (files downloaded before January 2022) and® economics blog posts. However, future data releases, including historical data, will consistently apply the new methodology.

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Jiayi XuJiayi Xu, Danielle HaleDanielle Hale

  1. In a normal year, rent prices typically increase most during spring and summer, when more renters are looking to move (demand increase) and fewer vacancies on the market (supply decrease). During wintertime, challenging weather conditions and delightful holiday moods may make renters put off their searching and moving plans, and as a result, rent prices tend to plateau or decline.
  2. Our rental data is only back to March  2019. As a result, the average year-over-year growth in 2020 is estimated based on rent data between March 2020 and December 2020.

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