California Apartment Rents Are 43% Higher Than U.S. Average

Rents in the Golden State up 14% since 2019

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The rent is too damn high, especially on the West Coast, new data shows.

Although the gap has been shrinking since the pandemic, California renters still paid 43 percent more than the average American apartment dweller this summer, according to the O.C. Register’s analysis of ApartmentList data that compares averages for California and the nation for July through September this year and the same period in 2019.

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California rent averaged $1,958 per month this summer, which is the second-highest in the nation behind Hawaii. That’s also 14 percent higher than it was in the summer of 2019.

At the same time, the national average rent is $1,369, a 21 percent increase over the same time. Thus, the delta between the two average rents decreased 9 percentage points from 52 percent four years ago. 

Of the 324 U.S. counties tracked by ApartmentList, California had seven of the 10 most expensive, including Orange, Santa Clara, Ventura and Santa Barbara.

National rents moved higher once the pandemic hit more than three and a half years ago, especially when many remote workers moved into larger apartment units in different areas. But, as the market continued to evolve this year, rental demand slipped in many markets, according to the analysis.

California is its own mixed bag of varying market landscapes, with 38 cities recording four-year rent gains above the national average, largely due to regions that benefited from the increase in the amount of people leaving denser spots of Southern California. 

Gregory Cornfield can be reached at gcornfield@commercialobserver.com.