Posted Jan 26, 2015

Top 30 Most Expensive Rental Rates in the U.S.

Affordability is one of the biggest factors that goes into the apartment hunting process– and for that reason, many people may skip right over the most expensive cities when searching through listings. However, the perks of setting up camp in these swanky spots can well outweigh the costly rent check. After all, they’re pricey for a reason.

Top 30 Most Expensive Rental Rates in the U.S. - Lovey

Higher prices tend to come with greater diversity, rich culture, vibrant social scenes, and thriving economies that make it possible to live within your means despite the high cost of living.

With America’s ever-changing economy, cities in the United States constantly experience shifts in fiscal status, as Lovely’s quarterly reports reveal. But California has long been known as one of the most expensive states when it comes to rental rates, and Lovely’s Q4 2014 report shows that this is truer than ever:

A whopping 21 of the 30 locations on the most expensive cities list were in the Golden State, and among the nearly one dozen new cities on the list, more than two-thirds of those cities were in California.

Top 30 Most Expensive Rental Rates in the U.S

New Cities On the Top 30 List

According to the Lovely Q4 report, a total of 11 new cities made the list. Keeping with its trend of rising rental rates, California dominated the list hosting 7 of these 11 new cities.

Top 30 Most Expensive Rental Rates in the U.S. - New Cities Newport Beach, California

Take a look at the new Golden State locations listed among the 30 most expensive cities and the median rental price for each:

  • Newport Beach: $2,650
  • Milpitas: $2,500
  • Palos Verdes: $2,488
  • Novato: $2,473
  • Dublin: $2,450
  • Encinitas: $2,398
  • Yorba Linda:$2,375

The list shows the growing popularity of Southern California. The addition of Yorba Linda, Encinitas, Newport Beach, and Palos Verdes puts the number of Southern California spots at 5, suggesting greater demand for apartment rentals.

Top 30 Most Expensive Rental Rates in the U.S. - New Cities Encinitas, California

This is old news to some, as estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau showed that about half of all people living in the Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside, and Ventura counties are renters. The truth of the matter is that many people simply can’t afford to be homeowners in these expensive locations.

But high prices don’t seem to be deterring people, and Southern Californians have a special place in their hearts for the region: the sun is always shining, the temperature sits nicely in the comfortable 70s, and rental rates still tend to be lower than you would find up north in the Bay Area (see the full top 30 list below to compare and contrast).

Top 30 Most Expensive Rental Rates in the U.S. - New Cities, Rancho Palos Verdes California

So what were the four new cities outside of California that made the list? Check out the median rental rates of these new, non-California cities that made the Top 30 list:

  • Greenwich, Connecticut: $3,150
  • Surfside, Florida: $2,650
  • Brookline, Massachusetts: $2,400
  • Kailua, Hawaii: $2,500

It’s not terribly surprising that these cities made the list. After all, the two New England towns are quaint communities where residents typically make between $90,000 and $120,000 annually, and the areas are home to some of the most expensive buildings in the country:


  • Greenwich has the $120-million Copper Beech Farm (the priciest in America).
  • Brookline has the most expensive mansion in Boston, with an asking price of $18 million.

Top-30-Most-Expensive-Rental-Rates-in-the-U.S.-New-Cities-Brookline, Massachusetts

The two other newbies on the list are Surfside and Kailua, both waterfront communities with rapidly growing tourism industries driving the cost of living and rental rates upward.

California Buzz

California not only dominated the selection of new cities, the state also towered over the other U.S. cities on the list as a whole: I know it’s already been stated but, California is home to 21 of the top 30 most expensive rental rates in the U.S..

Sitting pretty at the top of the list, as they did last year, are beloved California spots: Cupertino, Santa Monica, San Mateo, Redwood City, and Mountain View, with rates running from $3,000 to $2,650.

Top 30 Most Expensive Rental Rates in the U.S. - CA Buzz - Santa Monica

And surprise, surprise: San Francisco takes the cake in Q4. The most expensive city in the country has been experiencing rising rental rates at about 7.5% year over year, and it has hit its peak this quarter with a median rental rate of $3,500.

San Francisco pushed out Palo Alto for first place– Palo Alto is now in second place after rates dropped from $3,645 to $3,395 in the past quarter.

Check out the full list of Lovely’s Top 30 Most Expensive Rental Rates in the U.S. below.

Top 30 Most Expensive Rental Rates in the U.S. - California Buzz

Top 30 Most Expensive Rental Rates in the U.S.

  1. San Francisco, California: $3,500
  2. Palo Alto, California: $3,395
  3. Greenwich, Connecticut: $3,150
  4. Cupertino, California: $3,000
  5. Santa Monica, California: $2,850
  6. San Mateo, California: $2,800
  7. Redwood City, California: $2,695
  8. New York City, New York: $2,650
  9. Mountain View, California: $2,650
  10. Newport Beach, California: $2,650
  11. Surfside, Florida: $2,650
  12. Hoboken, New Jersey: $2,600
  13. Daly City, California: $2,500
  14. Kailua, Hawaii: $2,500
  15. Milpitas, California: $2,500
  16. Cambridge, Massachusetts: $2,500
  17. Palos Verdes, California: $2,488
  18. Sunnyvale, California: $2,475
  19. San Rafael, California: $2,475
  20. Novato, California: $2,473
  21. Dublin, California: $2,450
  22. Brookline, Massachusetts: $2,400
  23. Santa Clara, California: $2,400
  24. Encinitas, California: $2,398
  25. San Jose, California: $2,396
  26. Yorba Linda, California: $2,375
  27. San Ramon, California: $2,350
  28. Weston, Florida: $2,350
  29. Boston, Massachusetts: $2,300
  30. Fremont, California: $2,300

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Top 30 Most Expensive Rental Rates in the U.S. - Lovely Data

Photo Credit: Mark WestonChad McDonaldChristian RonnelChris MartinoAaron KnoxCésar Viteri Ramirezrunner310

Methodology: Trends represented in the Lovely Rental Market report reflect Q4 2014 rental market data based on the comprehensive set of aggregated rental inventory posted on Lovely between January 2012 and December 2014, and is no longer active.

Prices reported are as indicated upon posting and do not capture the final pricing terms on closed lease agreements. In addition to Lovely’s posting platform, Lovely Pro, Lovely obtains listings by partnering with over 70 external providers to populate its marketplace with rental listings.

The “Top 30” list of the highest rent prices across the nation was compiled using Lovely’s Q4 2014 rental data. Cities with a population greater than 50,000, per 2010 U.S. Census data, and more than 100 expired listings in Q4 2014, were considered for this list.


Stacee is the Content Manager at Lovely. She is an ice cream connoisseur who loves traveling, baking, and animals. Her guilty pleasures are karaoke and Flaming Hot Cheetos.

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