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One-third of Apartment List users in LA are apartment hunting in other cities

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A new report suggests many renters are ready to move away to cities like Phoenix


A substantial share of Los Angeles renters are apartment hunting in other cities, according to a new report from rental market database Apartment List.

The company finds that 38 percent of users in Los Angeles use the site to search for listings in other metropolitan areas, suggesting that more than one-third of Angelenos looking for a new apartment are also on the hunt for a new city.

Only seven other cities had a larger share of renters seeking housing elsewhere.

In keeping with the results of a study on California migration released last year by BuildZoom and the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley, a huge share of renters appear to be moving to just a few urban areas in the Southwest.

Apartment List finds nearly 17 percent of outbound rental searches are in the Phoenix metropolitan area. Queries in Riverside and San Diego make up 13.7 percent and 10.1 percent of outbound searches, respectively. Las Vegas comes in fourth on the list, with 9.7 percent of searches outside of LA.

Combined, those four urban areas account for a full half of all outbound searches.

Apartment List analyst Chris Salviati speculates that metropolitan areas like Phoenix are appealing to Los Angeles residents because they are close by and relatively affordable, making for “an attractive destination for those looking to leave more expensive areas on the West Coast.”

Rent in Phoenix? Apartment List calculates $870 for a one-bedroom apartment and $1,080 for a two-bedroom. Prices are on the way up though; rents rose 3.9 percent in the last year.

According to the company, the price of a one-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles hit $1,370 in June. A median two-bedroom cost $1,750. Prices have only grown marginally in the past year—by less than 1 percent—but rents in the city are still 47 percent above the national average.

The relatively stagnant prices seen in Los Angeles follow years of rapid rent growth since the end of the Great Recession.

Apartment List’s rent calculations may also undersell the prices users are likely to find browsing through the company’s own website. Because its estimates are based on census data, they give a good sense of what people are paying right now. But online listings tend to skew toward pricier market rate units.

Real estate tracker CoStar finds the average price of a one-bedroom unit in LA County is $1,745 per month. Two-bedrooms cost $2,210 per month. Both of those prices are up a little over 2 percent since this time last year.

According to the Census Bureau, more than half of LA County renters earned under $50,000 in 2017, meaning that in order to afford even a one-bedroom apartment at the average price calculated by CoStar, most renters would have to devote more than one-third of their paychecks toward housing.

In spite of high housing costs, Los Angeles is still attracting new residents. Apartment List finds that 42 percent of searches within the LA region are made by those in other metro areas.

The statistics suggest those looking to move here are coming from the very same places where Angelenos are departing for. Riverside and Phoenix are where the largest share of renters are contemplating moves into the Los Angeles area. Next on the list is New York City, where 6 percent of those apartment hunting in LA are searching from.

The Big Apple might not have the same appeal for Angelenos. Only 2.3 percent of those searching for apartments outside of LA are looking in New York.