Washington, DC

A Little Over Four Out of Ten DC Renters Want to Move Outside the Metro Area

Nicholas Barron

Forty-two percent of renters in Washington, D.C., are looking to move out of town, new data from Apartment List finds.

Apartment List analyzed its site’s registered users’ search preferences from July 1 to Sep. 30, 2021. The company found that 42.1% of renters in DC are searching for places to live outside the District.

Baltimore tops searchers’ destination lists, with 15.9% of renters looking for places to live in Charm City. Philadelphia came in second at 9%, followed by Virginia Beach at 5.5%. And 4.9% of DC renters are looking for a place to live in New York City.

Image from Apartment List Renter Migration Report: 2021 Q3

The share of DC renters searching for places to live outside the District is slightly above the nationwide average of 40%. DC has a long-held reputation as a transient city, where people live for a short time before relocating elsewhere.

But it’s not entirely a mass exodus of renters from the District, as Apartment List found some renters want to move to DC.

Of those searching for a rental in DC, 38.6% are outside the metropolitan area, with 25.7% coming from Baltimore. At 7.8%, New York has the second-largest share of renters searching for a place in the District, followed by Boston with 7%.

Photo by Blue Bird from Pexels

Three significant trends paint the nation’s rent picture

In analyzing its data, Apartment List noted three key trends that are impacting the country’s rental market: surging rent prices, low rental vacancy rates, and increased remote work opportunities.

Noting that median rent is up 16% nationwide since Jan., Apartment List said it’s not easy out there for renters looking for a home.

“Today, renters who are looking to move are not only dealing with this affordability crunch, but also navigating a tight market with historically low vacancy rates,” Apartment List said. “At the same time, migration patterns are also being impacted by one of the most significant societal shifts brought about by the COVID pandemic -- remote work.”

Apartment List pointed to three metro areas in which remote work’s impact on rentals is most profound.

San Jose, Calif., Raleigh, N.C., and Austin, Texas, appear in Apartment List’s top ten lists for both inbound and outbound renters. All three also rank high for being friendly to remote workers.

“Newfound flexibility has likely given many residents of these metros the opportunity to move somewhere new, which in turn creates vacancies that attract new renters from afar,” Apartment List said.

Average rents in DC are higher this year, although they’ve risen less than the national average. DC’s median rent price is up 8.4% since Jan.

Within the DC metro, Arlington boasts the highest rents, with a median rent price of $2,460. The District, meanwhile, has the lowest rents at $1,830.

As of Aug., DC had 160,703 renter-occupied households.

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