Average Rent by Year

Highlights. Rent prices have increased an average 8.86% per year since 1980, consistently outpacing wage inflation by a significant margin.

  • The nationwide average monthly rent is $1,164.
  • The median rent is $1,104.
  • 78.1% of renters pay rent in full and on time.
  • 28.4% is their average rent-to-income ratio.

Line Graph: Historical Average Monthly Rents Since 1940

Median Monthly Rent Nationwide Since 1940
Year Median Monthly Rent Annual Change
2020 $1,104 +3.08%
2019 $1,071 +4.28%
2018 $1,027 +3.63%
2017 $991 +3.44%
2016 $958 +3.79%
2015 $923 +5.25%
2014 $877 +3.18%
2013 $850 -1.96%
2012 $867 +2.60%
2011 $845 +4.32%
2010 $810 +0.25%
2009 $808 +3.19%
2008 $783 +3.71%
2007 $755 +5.01%
2006 $719 +3.60%
2005 $694 +3.89%
2004 $668 +2.61%
2003 $651 -1.06%
2002 $658 +3.95%
2001 $633 +5.15%
2000 $602 +3.79%
1999 $580 +2.29%
1998 $567 +3.28%
1997 $549 +2.23%
1996 $537 +2.68%
1995 $523 +4.81%
1994 $499 +2.46%
1993 $487 +2.74%
1992 $474 +2.60%
1991 $462 +3.36%
1990 $447 +5.42%
1989 $424 +2.42%
1988 $414 +3.76%
1987 $399 +11.14%
1986 $359 +5.90%
1985 $339 +2.11%
1984 $332 +5.06%
1983 $316 +8.22%
1982 $292 +7.75%
1981 $271 +11.52%
1980 $243 +11.98%
1979 $217 +8.50%
1978 $200 +8.70%
1977 $184 +10.18%
1976 $167 +7.05%
1975 $156 +9.86%
1974 $142 +6.77%
1973 $133 +7.72%*
1970 $108 +5.21%
1960 $71 +6.90%
1950 $42 +5.56%
1940 $27

*This is the average annual increase since 1970; subsequent annual changes are averaged over the previous decade.

Average Rent by Year

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) defines the Fair Market Rent (FMR). The FMR is not the price the average renter pays, however.

  • Monthly rent averages $1,164 nationwide; median rent is $1,104.
  • The nationwide average FMR for a one-bedroom home is $1,017.
  • In the last decade, 2015 had the largest year-over-year (YoY) rate of rental inflation at 5.25%.
  • In the 21stCentury, the median rent increases at an annual rate of 4.17%.
  • Throughout 2020, the average rent has increased despite massive job losses early on in the pandemic and a continued high rate of unemployment.
  • Currency values increase at an annual rate of 2.02%, making the rent inflation average 3.1%.
  • Within the last 50 years, 1980 had the largest YoY rent increase (11.98%) while 2010 had the smallest YoY decrease (0.25%).
  • YoY rent changes have not fallen to a negative rate since 1934.
  • 1933 saw the all-time largest YoY rent decrease at -13.48%.
  • 1920 had the all-time largest YoY rent increase at 18.42%.
Average Annual Rent Since 2005
Year Average Annual Rent
2020 $19.27/ft2 $13,968
2019 $18.69/ft2 $11,979
2018 $17.90/ft2 $11,340
2017 $17.23/ft2 $11,052
2016 $16.56/ft2 $10,557
2015 $15.80/ft2 $9,901
2014 $14.90/ft2 $9,559
2013 $14.23/ft2 $9,050
2012 $13.74/ft2 $8,812
2011 $13.30/ft2 $8,652
2010 $12.77/ft2 $8,532
2009 $12.67/ft2 $8,412
2008 $13.29/ft2 $8,016
2007 $13.13/ft2 $7,884
2006 $12.73/ft2 $7,848
2005 $12.12/ft2 $7,104

Rent vs. Income by Year

Housing and amenities have changed so much over decades that it makes gauging rental inflation difficult. The ratio of rent-to-income, however, indicates rent prices are rising at a faster rate than renter incomes.

  • $984 per week or $49,200 annually* before taxes is the median wage among full-time workers nationwide.
  • The average renter spends 28.39% of their income on rent.
  • Among female wage earners, the average rent is 30.5% of individual income.
  • In 2012, 22.85% was the average rent as a percentage of household income.
  • That’s a 24.25% increase in the rate of rent-to-income in 8 years – an average annual growth rate of 3.03%.
  • The value of the average wage increases at an annual rate of 3.44%.
  • Rent prices increase 12.5% faster than wages.

*This figure assumes a standard annual 2-week leave.

Year Rent Inflation Wage Inflation
2020 3.12% 2.87%
2019 3.71% 3.83%
2018 3.62% 3.62%
2017 3.81% 3.45%
2016 3.77% 1.13%
2015 3.57% 3.48%
2014 3.15% 3.55%
2013 2.83% 1.28%
2012 2.65% 3.12%
2011 1.71% 3.13%
2010 0.23% 2.32%
2009 2.28% -1.51%
2008 3.66% 2.30%
2007 4.26% 4.54%
2006 3.57% 4.60%
2005 2.99% 3.66%
2004 2.68% 4.65%
2003 2.93% 2.45%
2002 3.93% 1.00%
2001 4.45% 2.39%
2000 3.63% 5.53%

Line Graph: Annual Consumer Price Index Inflation Rates

Rent by State & Decade

Southern states historically have the lowest rental rates. Alaska and Hawaii have had the highest rates since they became states in the mid-20th Century.

  • Arkansas has the lowest FMR among states at $738 for a 2-bedroom unit.
  • Among states and territories, Puerto Rico has the lowest FMR at $487 or 34% lower than the FMR in Arkansas.
  • Hawaii has the highest FMR for a 2-bedroom at $2,015.
  • In 1980, Mississippi had the lowest average rent, whereas in 2000, West Virginia had the lowest rents available.
  • Hawaii also had the highest rents in 2000, but in 1980, Alaska’s rents were the highest nationwide.
  • Going back to 1940, Mississippi had the lowest rents and the District of Columbia had the highest rents available.
Average Rent by State & Decade
State 1980 2000 2020*
National Average $741 $927 $1,246
Alabama $171 $447 $803
Alaska $335 $720 $1,304
Arizona $241 $619 $1,097
Arkansas $168 $453 $738
California $258 $747 $1,922
Colorado $230 $671 $1,375
Connecticut $237 $681 $1,374
Delaware $225 $639 $1,142
District of Columbia $204 $618 $1,707
Florida $232 $641 $1,270
Georgia $192 $613 $994
Hawaii $283 $779 $2,015
Idaho $199 $515 $863
Illinois $224 $605 $1,108
Indiana $199 $521 $848
Iowa $206 $470 $804
Kansas $199 $498 $855
Kentucky $180 $445 $780
Louisiana $195 $466 $909
Maine $197 $497 $1,029
Maryland $242 $689 $1,459
Massachusetts $232 $689 $1,847
Michigan $228 $546 $906
Minnesota $215 $566 $1,068
Mississippi $164 $439 $774
Missouri $192 $484 $836
Montana $182 $447 $878
Nebraska $194 $491 $846
Nevada $282 $699 $1,065
New Hampshire $229 $646 $1,218
New Jersey $246 $751 $1,544
New Mexico $196 $503 $851
New York $227 $672 $1,691
North Carolina $187 $548 $919
North Dakota $188 $412 $841
Ohio $205 $505 $832
Oklahoma $196 $456 $828
Oregon $234 $620 $1,267
Pennsylvania $204 $531 $1,000
Puerto Rico NA NA $487
Rhode Island $202 $553 $1,101
South Carolina $118 $510 $900
South Dakota $171 $426 $793
Tennessee $185 $505 $889
Texas $224 $574 $1,087
Utah $214 $597 $1,031
Vermont $204 $553 $1,215
Virginia $236 $650 $1,229
Washington $231 $663 $1,584
West Virginia $178 $401 $778
Wisconsin $213 $437 $898
Wyoming $230 $437 $892

*2020 numbers are 2-bedroom Fair Market rates.

Stacked Bars: Average Rent Paid by Financial Quarter

Late Rent Payments

Despite pandemic-related market volatility, most renters continue to pay their rent on time.

  • Prior to job losses starting in early 2020, it was normal for over 95% of renters to pay their rent within the month.
  • Over 80% of renters paid their rent on time prior to plummeting employment rates.
  • More than 77% of renters paid their rent on time in the months following the first U.S. quarantines.
  • Before the first wave of job losses, 74% of renters who did not pay their rent on time did pay it within the month.
  • After the early 2020 economic downturn, more than 66% of late rental payments were made within the month.
  • On average, over 90% of renters paid their rent within the month after March 2020.

Sources

  1. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Consumer Price Index
  2. BLS, Usual Weekly Earnings of Wage and Salary Workers Fourth Quarter 2020
  3. U.S. Social Security Administration, Measures of Central Tendency for Wage Data
  4. U.S. Census Bureau, American Housing Survey Data Tables
  5. National Multifamily Housing Council, Research & Insight
  6. National Low Income Housing Coalition, Out of Reach 2020: The High Cost of Housing
  7. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Dataset: Fair Market Rents
  8. Official Data Foundation, Rent Inflation Calculator
  9. Department of Numbers, US Residential Rent and Rental Statistics