Where are people moving to DC coming from?

People are constantly moving into D.C., and constantly moving out of D.C. In the second quarter of 2021, 33% of apartment searches in D.C. were out-of-towners looking to relocate here, while 28% of D.C. residents searching for an apartment were looking out of town, according to apartments for rent listing site Apartment List.

Some of the most common destinations moving either in or out are the same: Boston and New York City.

“Those are big cities that have pretty closely intertwined local economies with D.C. So, a lot of professionals that work in D.C. probably have professional networks that expand into New York and Boston, and so I think we do see a lot of cross flow between those markets,” said Christopher Salviati, housing economist at Apartment List.

D.C.’s big city nearest neighbor Baltimore is also in the top five for both inbound and outbound apartment rental searches between the two cities.

Out-of-towners coming to D.C. often have bigger budgets for renting, according to Apartment List research. That can have an impact on the local rental market.

“If you’ve got a big influx of folks who are searching with bigger budgets, that definitely can have an impact on the rent that landlords are charging. When this is something that is happening throughout the market, then landlords are going to be able to see that and know that they are able to raise rents a bit,” Salviati said.

On average, Apartment List says out-of-town apartment seekers have budgets that are 11% higher than existing residents who are also searching for a new apartment.

While bidding wars are not common in the rental market, like they are in the homebuyer’s market, Salviati says it can happen, especially with rental applications to mom-and-pop type rental properties.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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