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First Coast

Jax rated the nation's best big city for renters

for rent.jpg
Jeff Chiu
/
AP

Despite wildly rising rents, a new study rates Jacksonville as the top metro area in the nation for renters.

RentCafe, a rental listing and research service, cites Jacksonville's low cost of living, great weather and abundance of entertainment options.

"Jacksonville is a popular hotspot for renters who are looking for that perfect combination of lively social scenes and serene outdoor areas," the report said.

The study is based on 17 metrics, including the cost of housing, unemployment, educational attainment, median income, air quality, rental options, school ratings and others. RentCafe says it analyzed hundreds of cities and chose 115 to rank based in part on their apartment stock.

Jacksonville finished ahead of big cities including Charlotte, North Carolina; Austin, Texas; San Antonio Texas; and Houston.

Overall, Jacksonville was ranked sixth-best among cities of any size. Orlando was fifth, Sarasota 11th and Tampa 15th. Most of the best rental cities were in the South and Southeast.

The study does not account for the pace of rising rent.

Another study, this one by Stessa.com, a landlord rental website, concluded that Jacksonville has the fifth-highest median rent increase among major cities, according to a report Friday by WJCT News partner the Jacksonville Daily Record.

Between 2019 and 2022, monthly median rents have risen $255 to $1,414, a 22% increase over the median 2019 rent of $1,159, Stessa.com said.

A recent Rent.com report listed reasons for the increases, the Daily Record reported.

The tight housing market is keeping would-be buyers from leaving apartments. Those ready to buy are finding few houses in their price range. Increasing interest rates, still in the 5% range, are limiting affordability for first-time buyers.

A study by the Redfin real estate brokerage also found that Jacksonville's rents increased faster than the nation as a whole from April 2021 to April 2022. Rents here have risen 20% since last year, Redfin said.

Florida Atlantic University reported this month that Jacksonville has some of the most overpriced rents in the country, the result of waves of people moving into the area during the pandemic and the shortage of places to rent.

Rents here average $1,724 per month, which is 13.36% higher than they should based on historical data, FAU said. That makes Jacksonville the 13th most-overpriced market in the nation, although other cities in Florida fared worse.