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Single Family Home Renters, Prepare to Tighten Your Belts Especially in These 20 Cities

If you pessimistically predicted that last month’s (relatively) lower rents for single-family rental homes (SFRs) wouldn’t last, congratulations! You were right…and in a big way.

According to Dwellsy’s latest data analysis, median asking rent for three-bedroom SFRs suddenly surged $128, or 7.4 percent, from December 2022 to January 2023. And, as always, some cities are bringing higher prices than others.

“This recent price surge came out of left field,” says Jonas Bordo, CEO and cofounder of Dwellsy. “Rents remained fairly flat through the latter half of 2022, even decreasing in its final months. But all good things must come to an end, and that happened pretty abruptly as the calendar flipped over to a new year.”


Top Ten Most Expensive Small Cities

Bordo postulates that as consumer sentiment rises, more renters are willing to loosen their purse strings and sign the lease for a larger rental home. And, of course, some would-be homebuyers are opting to continue renting while mortgage interest rates remain high. Whatever the reason, increased demand always pushes up prices. And, as we’ll see shortly, in some cities they are really up.


Single-Family Home Renters


Bordo believes that providing accurate and timely rental data is a crucial service for renters, landlords, cities, and organizations connected to the rental industry. To that end, Dwellsy regularly mines its 13+ million residential rental listings for statistics and data. Because the rental platform allows landlords to post listings free of charge, it has a pool of data that’s more diverse—and more representative of the true rental landscape—than that of pay-to-play listing services. Each month, Dwellsy breaks down this data regionally across 250 U.S. markets.

“Without current data, it’s difficult for renters to accurately gauge developing trends, determine affordability in their area, and plan for the future,” says Bordo. “In order to increase the specificity of what we’re pricing and reduce the risk of noise in the underlying data, Dwellsy has recently updated our methodology for analyzing rent data. In compiling this list of most expensive cities for single-family home rentals, we’ve focused in on three-bedroom homes because they are by far the most common rental home type.”

For a more detailed look at Dwellsy’s rent price analysis methodology, see this article.

Now, let’s take a look at those cities where renting a single-family home is most likely to break the proverbial budget:


Top Ten Most Expensive Big Cities for Three-Bedroom Single-Family Home Rentals


If you’re California dreamin’ on a winter’s day and you’re hoping for an inexpensive rental home, well…you might want to consider living in another state. Five of the cities on this list—including the top four—are in the Golden State.

“Los Angeles takes the top spot, with a median asking rent of $4,100,” says Bordo. “That easily beats out second-place contender San Jose, where rent for a three-bedroom SFR is $3,895.”

Of the cities on this list, Boston, San Jose, and Washington, DC have experienced the largest increases in rent since January 2022—all above 8 percent.

“Meanwhile, cities like San Francisco and Miami have seen relatively little cumulative change in rent over the past year—but if you’re paying your landlord well over $3,000 a month, even a 1 or 2 percent difference can be meaningful,” Bordo comments.

This table shows which large cities had the most expensive January 2023 asking rent for three-bedroom single-family homes.



Metropolitan Statistical Area

Median Three-Bedroom Single-Family Home Asking Rent, January 2023

Change in Three-Bedroom Single-Family Home Asking Rent Since January 2022


Los Angeles, CA

$ 4,100

+ 5.6%


San Jose, CA

$ 3,895

+ 8.2%


San Francisco, CA

$ 3,700

+ 1.4%


San Diego, CA

$ 3,545

+ 5.9%


Miami, FL

$ 3,400

+ 2.3%


Honolulu, HI

$ 3,300

+ 4.9%


Boston, MA

$ 3,200

+ 9.4%


Riverside-San Bernardino, CA

$ 2,800

+ 5.7%


New York, NY

$ 2,800

+ 7.7%


Washington, DC

$ 2,700

+ 8.1%


Top Ten Most Expensive Small Cities for Three-Bedroom Single-Family Home Rentals


A glance at the cities on this list reveals a strong “sun, sand, and surf” theme, with two mountain retreats—Boulder and Bozeman—thrown in. All ten are known for their sought-after attractions and amenities.

“Naples-Marco Island, Florida, has the dubious honor of being the most expensive small city,” shares Bordo. “Median asking rent for a three-bedroom home there will set you back $3,848 per month—but that’s a tremendous improvement over December’s asking rent, which was an eye-popping $5,000.

“Second-place Santa Barbara also deserves a shout-out, because it must contend with rents that are 35.4 percent higher than they were in January 2022,” he adds. “Ouch!”

This table shows which small cities had the most expensive January 2023 asking rent for three-bedroom single-family homes.



Metropolitan Statistical Area

Median Three-Bedroom Single- Family Home January 2023 Asking Rent

Change in Rent Since January 2022


Naples-Marco Island, FL

$ 3,848

– 13.5%


Santa Barbara, CA

$ 3,650

+ 35.4%


Oxnard-Thousand Oaks, CA

$ 3,500

+ 7.9%


Salinas, CA

$ 3,450

– 1.4%


San Luis Obispo, CA

$ 3,300

+ 13.8%


Santa Rosa, CA

$ 3,200

+ 8.5%


Boulder, CO

$ 2,795

+ 9.6%


Bozeman, MT

$ 2,700

~ 0.0%


North Port-Bradenton, FL

$ 2,685

– 0.6%


Vallejo-Fairfield, CA

$ 2,650

– 4.5%


“For the past two years—since Dwellsy has been tracking this data—asking rent for single-family homes has been much more volatile than asking rent for apartments,” concludes Bordo. “That’s true in nearly all markets, not just for popular metropolises and sought-after resort cities. But don’t despair. Remember that these prices represent median asking rent—so even in expensive areas, you might still be able to find a bargain.”


Report by

Jonas Bordo is the coauthor, along with Hannah Hildebolt, of the upcoming book Everything You Need to Know About Renting But Didn’t Know to Ask: All the Insider Dirt to Help You Get the Best Deal and Avoid Disaster.


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