Photo: Brandon Jacoby / Unsplash

It took 18 months and 10 dollars, but New York City reigns supreme as the most expensive rental market in the United States, according to the Zumper National Rent Report.

After a year and a half of market upheaval due to COVID-19, New York snuck past San Francisco with an average one-bedroom rental price of $2,810. San Francisco is virtually neck-and-neck with the Big Apple, with a median cost of $2,800.

It was the first time New York leapt ahead of the Northern California city since Zumper began tracking the rental data trends in 2014.

As the pandemic led to massive shutdowns across the country, both San Francisco and New York had employees shift from offices to work-from-home scenarios.

No longer tied to a certain location, workers fled the metros for more affordable housing elsewhere.

Rental costs fell in both locations. In San Francisco, the price for a one-bedroom fell by 23.4 percent between March 2020 and January 2021. For New York, the cost fell by 17.5 percent during the period. However, San Francisco still held the edge over New York at that time, charging a renter $330 more per month.

Photo: Aaron Kato / Unsplash

At the start of 2021, the two cities began to take different paths. As the vaccine rollout progressed, businesses reopened. New Yorkers returned to the city and rent prices began to rebound. San Francisco, with its abundance of tech employees, had many residents who were no longer tied to the city.

Remote working allowed them to live anywhere. Since January 2021, San Francisco saw a small uptick of 4.5 percent, but overall prices remain down 20 percent since March 2020.

Rental prices are still accelerating overall nationwide due to the continuing trend of working from home. Zumper’s national rent index for August has one-bedroom median rent increasing 9.2 percent since the second quarter of 2020. Two-bedroom rentals have jumped up by 11 percent.

Another location experiencing significant rent increases is Austin, Texas. Several technology companies recently took root in the popular city, and it has boosted home sales and rentals.

But whereas San Francisco’s prices have remained the highest in the country for some time, Austin is far more affordable by comparison, leading many to make the move.

The suburbs, in particular, observed massive jumps in rental costs. The August data from Zumper shows an average one-bedroom rent in Round Rock is up 17.1 percent compared to last year. Pflugerville has increased by 16.8 percent.

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