It’s not just home prices. Rents rise sharply across the U.S.

A for rent sign in Palo Alto, California. Across the country rents are on the rise, in part due to a historic shortage of homes either to rent or buy. PAUL SAKUMA/AP

Last year, Laura Kraft landed a job in Orlando, Florida. She’d just gotten her PhD in entomology, meaning she studies bugs, and she’d be working on a big nature exhibit at a theme park. All that sounded great until she started looking for an apartment.

“I started looking at rent and was like, not sure if I was going to take the job,” she says. “The rent was so high in Orlando… it really blew me away.”

At first she looked for a place of her own. But anything in her price range had a waiting list at least 6 months long. So she found a Facebook group for theme park employees looking for roommates in order to afford a place to live.

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“My roommate and I together are paying $2,200,” Kraft says. “A lot of people that I know have like three, four, sometimes five roommates in a house.”

The cost of renting a place in Orlando rose nearly 30% just last year alone, according to a survey by the real estate firm Redfin. Cities in Florida, New York, and New Jersey are seeing particularly steep jumps in rent. As is Austin, Texas, with the biggest one year gain of 40%.

The survey, it should be noted, tracks new listings for apartments.

“That doesn’t literally mean that every person in Austin is going to see their rent go up 40 percent,” says Redfin’s Chief Economist Daryl Fairweather. “But it means that if you are on the market right now looking for an apartment or home to rent, the prices will be 40 percent higher than they were the year before.”

Some of the forces driving rents higher differ from city to city. Fairweather says a lot of technology workers have been moving to Austin and the migration of more people there is pushing up both rents and home prices. In New York City, rents are rebounding after falling earlier in the pandemic.

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