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  • Writer's pictureRealFacts Editorial Team

Comparing Rents in the Bay Area and South Florida Since the Pandemic


SF skyline with the golden gate bridge

Since the onset of the global pandemic four years ago, the U.S. apartment industry has experienced significant shifts in rental prices, with two coastal regions representing opposite ends of the spectrum.


In South Florida, comprising Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach, effective rents have soared by over 43% since February 2020, marking the highest dollar differential in the nation. Conversely, in the Bay Area, encompassing San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland, rent prices have stagnated, and even declined in San Francisco, during the same period.


Rent change percentage since the pandemic in popular areas

Before the pandemic, South Florida and the Bay Area had vastly different rental markets, with South Florida averaging around $1,720 per month and the Bay Area nearly double at approximately $3,000 per month. However, as of February 2024, rents in both regions have converged, with South Florida averaging around $2,500 and the Bay Area around $2,960.

Data from RealPage Market Analytics shows that South Florida has experienced the highest increase in effective rents for professionally managed apartments nationwide since the pandemic began. Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach rank among the top three in terms of percent change in rents since February 2020 among the 50 largest apartment markets in the country. Other Florida markets such as Tampa, Jacksonville, and Orlando also reported significant rent hikes above the national average.


In contrast, the Bay Area has seen minimal growth in rent prices, with San Francisco experiencing a decline of about $260 in effective asking rents since February 2020. San Jose and Oakland have seen modest increases, with rents rising by less than 3% and 6% respectively.


The demographic shifts in these regions have heavily influenced rental demand. While South Florida has continued to attract residents, with all metro divisions recording population growth, the Bay Area has seen a decline in population since 2020. The combined metro areas of San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont and San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara have experienced significant net-out migration of residents.


Employment growth has also favored South Florida, with all three markets growing total employment at rates faster than the national average. Miami leads with total employment growth of 7% since February 2020, while West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale recorded gains of 6.5% and 5.5% respectively. Conversely, the Bay Area has struggled to recover jobs lost during the pandemic, with all three markets sitting below their total employment bases from February 2020.


Rent percentage change since the pandemic in other popular areas

These demographic and economic factors have contributed to strong renter demand in South Florida, resulting in robust pricing power for operators. In contrast, population loss and a slow job market recovery have led to stagnant rental prices across the Bay Area.


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