Austin and Houston are great cities to live in. In fact, they’re so great that everybody wants to live in them. In fact, so many people want to live in them that the rent in each city has raised by 7 percent (Austin) and 5.9 percent (Houston), which puts them on the list of “cities with the fastest rising rent in the U.S.” So, if you’re currently paying somewhere in the neighborhood of $1,500-$1,700 in rent for your house or apartment—roughly the median rent in the two cities—don’t think of it as overpaying; think of it, instead, as just being on-trend.
That’s the takeaway from Yahoo’s study of rental data from real estate website Zillow, which determined the ten cities with the fastest-rising rent in the U.S.:
The Zillow Rent Index is based on the estimated monthly rental price of properties in Zillow’s database, including single-family homes, condos, co-ops and apartments, regardless of whether or not they’re listed for rent. Nationwide, median rent increased 3.3% from January 2014 to January 2015, at $1,350. Here are the metro areas that had the largest year-over-year price jumps.
7. Charlotte, N.C.
6. Austin, Texas
5. Portland, Ore.
4. Kansas City, Mo.
2. San Jose, Calif.
1. San Francisco
Maybe the biggest surprise about the list is the fact that Austin doesn’t crack the top five and Kansas City does (click on over to Yahoo to see more of the details). Otherwise, the fact that San Francisco and San Jose top the list is to be expected, and rising rents in trendy cities like Portland and Denver should similarly surprise no one.
Of course, part of why Austin places at a relatively mild number six may be that there isn’t a ton of room for the rent to go up: at $1,657, it’s behind only the two Northern California cities and Denver in median rent, and the 7 percent spike in its rent is still more than double the national average.
In Houston, meanwhile, the median rent is what we’ll laughingly refer to as “slightly more affordable,” at a mere $1,497. That is still, to be clear, a hell of a lot of money (Charlotte, which places ahead of Houston at rate of increase, faces a mere $1,235 median average), and the 5.9 percent growth rate is nearly double the 3.3 percent average around the U.S.
Lists like these don’t just indicate which cities are expensive, which makes them useful: New York is one of the two cities in the U.S. with the highest median rent (along with San Francisco), but prices there have essentially leveled out—the rise in New York is a low 2.1%, which means that, if you’re a New Yorker, you’re probably pretty used to building your life around a median monthly rent that hovers over $3,000. If you’re in Austin, though, which has seen steep rent rises over the past half decade or more, the idea that you now live in a city where the median rent comes out to just a shade under $20,000 a year is something you may well be adjusting to.
Both Houston and Austin have a long way to go before they’re competing with the coastal cities in terms of having the most expensive rental markets in the country—Los Angeles, in third place behind New York and San Francisco, is at $2,460, with an increase of 4.9 percent, which kept it narrowly off the list. But with rents where they are now, and rates of growth ascending so quickly, each year adds up to roughly an extra $100 per month tacked onto the Texas cities’ median rent. That’s a spike that most of us would struggle to keep up with, and it makes being on-trend just a little less fun.