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Rent Report US

Roomi’s Year in Review: What the 2020 Room Rental Market Looked Like

2020 was the year we all learned to live with the “new normal”. We weren’t happy about it, but we got on with things to protect each other. It was a year full of surprises and uncertainties, with industries like travel and real estate taking a knock bigger than any other we can remember. It seemed that homeowners, landlords and tenants all over the world were forced into uncomfortable situations, and at multiple points throughout the year, moving house seemed impossible.

Which is why Roomi’s 2020 Year in Review is so interesting. We took a look at some key data collected over the year of unprecedented times, to uncover how COVID-19 impacted the room rental market in the United States.

There was more urgency amongst people moving to a new city

There was a lot more moving and shifting between cities in 2020, compared to previous years. It seems like the pandemic is the underlying reason for this, with previous research finding that many renters were either forced out of their homes due to job loss, etc. and many chose to leave more expensive cities in search of somewhere more affordable to work remotely from.

Roomi’s users in particular were in a hurry to either find a roommate or a new place to live. Repeat purchases were up 18% compared to 2018, and a much higher percentage of users on the app actually made a purchase.

Rent prices continued to decrease steadily

As reported in our December room rental report, the price to rent a room decreased throughout the year – which could be as a result of landlords dropping rent in order to keep rooms filled, instead of empty.

Average rent for one room: Top 10 cities in the U.S.

Average rent for one room: Top 10 cities in the U.S.

Tech migration

In 2020, we also experienced what has been called “The Great Tech Migration”. People were migrating throughout the country in ways that were different to pre-pandemic activity, with a clear desire to move out into the suburbs and away from major cities and tech hubs.

It seemed that cities that were bustling at just the start of the year 2020 (such as San Francisco and New York City) experienced more out-migration, and places such as Madison and Cleveland gained the most movers. How temporary or permanent these measures are, we don’t know just yet.

For now, it seems that places like NYC lost their appeal in many ways. It went from a bustling tech hub, with a fantastic nightlife, culture, opportunities, and prime shopping streets – to a place that felt empty. For that reason, many people moved to suburbs to live with parents or find cheaper rent, since they could now work remotely and no longer had to worry about being close to their workplace.