SAN DIEGO – Rent prices in the San Diego area are among the most expensive in the U.S. with the rising cost far outpacing its West Coast counterparts since the COVID-19 pandemic began, a Zumper report released Tuesday shows.

The median rental price in April was $2,390 for a one-bedroom unit, meaning it was more expensive to rent in San Diego than in Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and Oakland, among others. For a two-bedroom unit, the median price was $3,050, up more than 27% year-over-year, the report shows.

That increase is being felt in the larger metro area as well with the one-bedroom rate in Chula Vista rising nearly 40% since last year while prices for the same in Oceanside were up almost 30% in the same period.

Jeff Andrews, a senior market analyst at Zumper, who wrote the report, said San Diego’s rental patterns more closely resemble cities in the middle of the country rather than West Coast cities — and he cited two reasons as to why.

The first came because of the pandemic with “transplant cities” like New York City, Los Angeles or San Francisco seeing workers leave for periods of time — or permanently, in some cases — as work-for-home setups became commonplace. Andrews views San Diego differently in that many in San Diego remained to wait out the pandemic, keeping the market relatively tight for renters.

The other reason is due to the high cost of real estate, effectively “trapping” renters in the market, he said.

“If you’re on the bubble of being able to buy a house and they rise by say 20% in a year, which is not uncommon, you just got totally priced out,” Andrews said. “When home prices rise like that, it leaves a lot of people who would have transitioned into the home market in the rental market.”

Andrew’s report notes San Diego’s median one-bedroom price was mostly flat in the first year of the pandemic. It started to rise again in May 2021 and now is among the five most costly markets in the U.S.

Home prices in the area also have risen nearly 50% in the past two years, according to Andrews, driven by continued high demand and a supply still feeling the effects of the financial crisis in 2008 as well as the fallout of pandemic shortages of labor and supplies.

“We have a housing shortage,” he said. “On top of that, the cost of building has gone up on almost every level. Land is more expensive now. Labor is more expensive now. Lumber is up like 300% in two years.”

In the U.S., the median average price for a one-bedroom rental unit reached a new high in April at $1,410, rising 13 times in the past 14 months, the report shows. Prices for a two-bedroom are rising too at $1,746, reaching a record for the 15th consecutive month.

Click or tap here to read Andrew’s full report.