FORBES: Home to UNC Chapel Hill, N.C. State and Duke University, North Carolina’s Research Triangle region—including the cities of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill—is best known for top notch universities, but students would be wise to consider sticking around after graduation. Reasonably priced apartments, coupled with strong population growth and ample employment opportunities, earn the area the top spot on our 2018 list of the best places to be a renter this year.
Overall, cities on this list fall into two broad buckets, explains John Chang head of research for Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Services, which provides data and insights for our annual ranking. On one end of the spectrum are the slow and steady markets. Places like no. 5 Louisville, Ky. Or no. 7 St. Louis, which tend to be affordable with plenty of inventory to choose from and room to grow. In these places, however, economic growth is modest. Huge waves of people aren’t moving in and demanding places to live, instead a stable population of locals tend to own homes.
Meanwhile, in cities like no. 3 Austin, Texas or no. 6 Nashville, Tenn employment and population are growing and, luckily for newcomers, construction is keeping up with the demand. Between 2013 and 2017, 26,000 rental apartment units have been added in Nashville—a 22% increase in inventory. In Austin, 42,427 units came online for a 22.2% increase.
In no. 1 Raleigh-Durham 5,700 apartment units were added last year and 25,000 apartments in the last five for an inventory increase of 18%. This growth is necessary to keep up with 11.3% population growth over the same time period. Meanwhile about 140,000 jobs, many of them in tech, have been created in the region since 2012—an 18% increase.
This is in stark contrast to places like Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York, where lack of land to build and tough zoning laws keep the rate of unit growth in the single-digits. These cities, no coincidentally, rank high on our companion list of the worst for renters.
1. Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, N.C.
Average monthly rent: $1,054
2017 rent growth: 2.1%
Rental share of median household income: 18.2%
Five-year population growth: 11.3%
2017 job growth: 2.1%
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