SAN DIEGO – Nearly one-fourth of San Diego apartment hunters are eyeing other markets in California and elsewhere as local rent prices have soared among the most expensive in the country, a report released Tuesday shows.
The quarterly migration report, compiled using searches on the Apartment List platform, reveals that some San Diegans are looking outside of the metropolitan area for their next home. Most commonly searched among that group of renters are Los Angeles, Riverside, California and Phoenix, among others.
San Diego also draws heavy interest from those living in other places. Some 42% of searches for apartments in the community come from those not living in the metro area, Apartment List senior research associate Rob Warnock said.
Warnock said the trend in “America’s Finest City” is emblematic of a lot of places since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, seeing “increased demand without major outflows of renters.”
“I would definitely put San Diego in that camp,” he said. “These places have taken in a lot of new renters … in many cases, faster than they’ve been able to supply new homes.”
According to Warnock, there’s a common migration pattern of people moving from expensive cities to more affordable places for their budgets, a trend he notes was accelerated by the pandemic. He said San Diego is in a unique spot where rent tends to be more expensive than in neighboring cities but “by many considered cheaper than Los Angeles next door.”
“It sits in the middle a little bit,” he said. “A lot of people in California think San Diego is cheaper and a lot think it’s more expensive.”
At least in April, the city was the fifth most expensive rental market in the U.S., ranked higher than Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and Oakland in its median price, a recent Zumper report showed. The median rental price for a one-bedroom unit was $2,390 and $3,050 for a two-bedroom, marking sizable year-over-year increases for each.
For comparison, April’s median price in the U.S. for a one-bedroom was $1,410 and $1,746 for a two-bedroom. Both are new records in the country, rising consistently for more than a year.
It is worth noting that the Apartment List report doesn’t necessarily detail where San Diegans are moving or who’s moving here. Rather, Warnock said the company’s report explores search data that is seen as “a leading indicator” of what renters eventually will do.
“We’re looking at searches which will predate moves,” he said, adding that it’s not clear how many Los Angeles renters searching for places in San Diego actually come, for example.
Of those living in San Diego exploring elsewhere, the largest share is looking at L.A. with 22.1% of the search traffic, the report shows. Others rounding out the top five include Riverside (14.6%), Phoenix (5.5%), San Francisco (4.6%) and Las Vegas (3.1%).
Click or tap here to read the entire full Apartment List report.