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Fewer renters moved to Portland in 2020 and more renters moved out, a new report has found.

COURTESY GRAPHIC: RENTCAFEACUTE;.COM - One of the charts in the RENTCafeacute;.com report.Young people are not moving to Portland as often as in the past.

That is among the findings of a recent report on the change in rental activity in major cities this year. Among other things, it found that more people left Portland in 2020 than moved into the city, and that most of them were millennials with an average age of 29.

Overall, rental activity dropped 4% in Portland compared to last year. Among the top choices of those who left were Beaverton, Tigard and Vancouver, Washington.

Portland is attracting fewer renters even though rents in the city have dropped by 3.2% since 2019, the report said. The average was $1,493 this November, compared with $1,542 a year ago.

And Portland is not the only major city losing renters. The report found that 18 of the 30 largest U.S. cities saw more renters leaving compared to last year. It also found that apartment rents decreased in all 10 of the most expensive cities for renters in 2020.

Nationwide, renting activity was 10% slower in 2020, with a shorter rental season that started with a two-month delay, the report found. Also noteworthy, Gen Z overtook Gen X as the second most active group of renters and the only renter generation that became more active this year.

The Year End 2020 report was released by RENTCafé.com, a nationwide apartment search website. It analyzed 5.8 million renter applications nationwide.

"This tumultuous year has changed renting in more than one way," the report said. "In terms of moving, there was an increase in renters who decided to move out of some large cities in 2020, including Detroit, New York and Seattle."

The report attributes much of the slowdown to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"More people decided to stay in their current apartments. 10% fewer renters applied for new apartments this year, breaking a years-long trend of single-digit increases. This is in line with the findings of a renter survey conducted on RENTCafé.com in April of this year, when 11% of renters said they are staying put when asked about their plans to move during the pandemic," the report said.

Some cities saw larger rental activity declines than Portland. The biggest loser was Memphis, Tennessee, with a 21% drop, followed by Chicago, Illinois, and Louisville, Kentucky, at 11% each. Of West Coast cities, Seattle rental activity declined the most with an 11% drop, followed by San Diego, California, and San Francisco, California, at 7% each.

Other cities saw rental activity increase in 2020, however, the report found. The biggest winner was Detroit, Michigan, with a 21% increase, followed by New York City at 15% and Charlotte, North Carolina, at 13%.

"There has been much speculation around the topic whether people are leaving dense large cities for more space elsewhere in the context of the pandemic. As far as renters are concerned, this trend confirms for a handful of the nation's largest cities. This year, 18 of the 30 largest U.S. cities saw more renters leaving compared to 2019. Furthermore, half of the largest cities registered more pronounced activity in terms of renters moving out of the city rather than renters moving in," the report said.


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