The July report from real-estate website Zumper contains the typical bad news: Rents in Portland went up again last month.
Median rent for a Portland one-bedroom apartment climbed 3.8 percent in June to $1,360 a month. Portland continues to be the 15th most expensive rental market in the nation.
So what city could you move to that's getting cheaper?
The question may at first sound facetious, even offensive. Portland's failure to build more apartments—both affordable housing and market-rate units—has caused the city's rent spike to move eastward, impacting poorer families with less mobility. Suggesting people just pick up stakes and leave is absurd.
But as The New York Times noted on Sunday, Portland and other desirable cities have left people with few other choices than to pack their bags. They pushed people out with zoning rules that protect "neighborhood character" by limiting the size and location of new housing.
Those rules, which Portland City Council is reluctant to change, are creating increasingly unequal tiers of American cities—places where only people with money and prospects can move, and other places where the less-moneyed can afford to go.
As Harvard public policy professor Daniel Shoag tells the Times: "We've switched from a world where everybody educated and uneducated was moving from poorer parts of the country to the richer parts of the country to a world where the higher-educated people move to San Francisco and lower educated people move to Vegas."
(Zumper's data bears that out, by the way: Median rent in Las Vegas is $790 a month.)
So what places are rents going down? Zumper lists five cities with steep declines last month:
– Baltimore, MD saw rent prices decline for both bedroom types this June. One bed asking rents decreased 2.5% to a median of $1,170, while two beds dropped 4.3% to $1,350.
– Anchorage, AK dropped four spots to 40th place, as one beds decreased 4.2% to $910, and two beds decreased 3.3% to $1,160.
– San Antonio, TX saw one bedrooms decrease 3.4% to a median of $860, and two bedrooms drop 2.7% to $1,090. Despite these near term trends, prices are up 6.2% and 5.8% for one and two beds, respectively.
– Des Moines, IA saw a dip in both units last month. One bedrooms decreased 4% to $720, while two bedrooms similarly dropped 3.3% to $880.
– El Paso, TX was the 82nd most expensive market, down five spots since last month. Rent prices decreased 4.5% for one bedrooms, and 3.8% for two bedrooms this June.
These figures paint only a very partial picture of where rents are declining or staying flat. For a better sense, here's Zumper's list of the 100 most expensive rental markets in the nation. (Hint: You'll find Portland quickly, but it takes some scrolling to get to Spokane.)