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News / Northwest

Tacoma named No. 1 most sought-after renting destination in West, report shows

By Simone Carter, The News Tribune
Published: April 22, 2024, 7:44am

TACOMA — Just as the weather gets warmer, Tacoma’s rental market is heating up.

The City of Destiny ranked as the No. 1 most desirable rental destination in the West for March, according to a new report by the apartment-search website RentCafe.com. It also did well on the national scale, securing the No. 6 spot in the country.

The March analysis aimed to reveal the top U.S. metros in terms of renter interest, the company noted in a news release. The report examined 150 cities and relied on factors such as rental search, properties saved to a user’s “favorites,” apartment availability and the number of saved searches.

Tacoma saw a significant spike last month in page views on RentCafe.com: 196%, the report shows. At the same time, open Tacoma listings fell 20%, suggesting that tenants are acting fast to snag available apartments.

“[T]he higher the interest from renters, the fewer available options on the market,” RentCafe noted in a news release.

Tacoma is desirable to renters for multiple reasons, said Adina Dragos, a real estate writer and research analyst with RentCafe.com. She told The News Tribune via email that the city has been carving out a foothold as a tech hub. It also enjoys a strong, diverse job market.

“On the other hand, its proximity to the Puget Sound, Mount Rainier, and plentiful parks make it a haven for outdoor enthusiasts,” Dragos said. “Plus, the diverse arts and culture scene and the revitalized downtown complete the picture.”

The rental market here is highly competitive, with seven applicants per vacant unit at the start of the year, Dragos said. In addition, 56.6% of renters opted to stay in their current pad. Those lease renewals make it that much tougher for renters seeking new spots.

Top 5 hottest rental cities in U.S. for March

Tacoma got edged out from a spot in the top five by cities further east. Yet the West led the way last month compared with the other U.S. regions: 13 western cities landed in the top 30, according to RentCafe.com. Other popular regions include the South (eight cities), the Midwest (seven cities) and the Northeast (two cities).

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The top five most in-demand rental cities in the country, according to the report, are:

  1. Minneapolis, Minnesota

2. Overland Park, Kansas

3. Atlanta, Georgia

4. Queens, New York

5. Little Rock, Arkansas

Top 5 most popular rental cities in the West

Tacoma jumped 18 spots from February to March to reach sixth in the country, the report shows. Other western cities also secured spots in the top 30.

The RentCafe analysis indicates that the top five most popular cities for rental activity in the West are:

  1. Tacoma

2. Chandler, Arizona

3. North Las Vegas, Nevada

4. Sacramento, California

5. Portland

Another Washington city boasted a position in the top 30: Spokane, which came in at No. 24. Seattle, meanwhile, wound up more or less in the middle of the 150-city analysis, ranking as No. 70.

As for who’s scoping out a potential move to Grit City, per the report? Apartment hunters from Seattle, as well as Boardman, Oregon.

“Tacoma is rapidly becoming a preferred destination for renters seeking better deals and a viable alternative to Seattle, with the city’s average rent being considerably lower than Seattle’s,” Dragos said.

The average apartment rent in Tacoma, $1,680, is nearly $600 cheaper than Seattle’s average of $2,270, she noted. Rents across most Tacoma neighborhoods hug pretty closely to the city’s average, meaning that it’s “a well-balanced market.”

Tacoma’s cost of living is easier on pocketbooks compared with the Emerald City, Dragos said.

“And while incomes here may not match Seattle levels,” she added, “when it comes to how much renters can stretch their income, Tacoma positions itself in the middle tier for its balance between pay, monthly rent and expenses among 189 U.S. largest cities — making it a desirable market for renters wanting to relocate here.”