The Hottest Rental Markets in the U.S.

A 2024 survey reveals the top 20 hottest rental markets, with Miami taking first place, followed by Milwaukee, WI and North Jersey, NJ.

for rent sign in front of property
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The country's top 20 hottest rental markets offer a few surprises, such as Milwaukee taking the second most competitive spot. If you have been concerned about increasing home prices, renting has become an appealing option. In this tight market, finding a rental can be challenging and competitive. So, how do you navigate a competitive rental market to get the best value for the price? 

On average, seven renters contend for the same apartment, which means you must do your best to stand out, according to the Market Competitivity Report by the nationwide apartment search website RentCafe. The report also found that it can take 41 days for a vacancy to be filled, up from 32 days in 2022. That points to one bright spot for renters, namely a slightly lower occupancy rate this year, offering renters more properties from which to choose. 

The report also shows that as of the first part of 2024, the occupancy rate was 93%, and the lease renewal rate was 61.5%. 

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Hottest rental markets overview

  • Miami, FL is the most competitive rental market in the U.S., but the Midwest is the most competitive region.
  • Skyrocketing costs of owning a home have made renting a more viable option for many in the Northeast.
  • Queens (#34) and Manhattan (#50) are lower on the list but remain tough markets due to their housing shortage. 
  • New back-to-the-office policies and few newly built apartments cause vacant rentals to vanish in just five weeks in Silicon Valley.

A competitive rental market

A competitive rental market typically benefits landlords. That’s because renters compete against each other for each available rental unit. RentCafe analyzed the 139 largest markets in the country and used five relevant metrics to determine rental competitiveness:

  • The number of days apartments were vacant
  • The percentage of apartments that renters occupied
  • The number of prospective renters competing for an apartment
  • The percentage of renters who renewed their leases
  • The share of new apartments completed recently

For renters willing to brave the current rental climate, take a look at the top three hottest rental markets across the U.S.


Miami leads the pack as the most competitive rental market in the U.S. with an RCI (Rental Competitiveness Index) of 91.9 out of 100. Rentals have a 96.5% occupancy rate and are occupied within 36 days, with 14 renters all vying for the same unit. 

The Midwest

At the start of 2024, the Midwest had the nation's most challenging regional rental market. Milwaukee took second place, with suburban Chicago not far behind in fourth place. The rental market in Chicago’s suburbs is more competitive than in the city, with ten prospective renters for every vacant unit.

The Northeast

The northeast is also a competitive region because of the rising costs of owning a home there. North Jersey is the third hottest market nationally. Apartments only stay on the market for 38 days, with an average of nine renters competing for each unit. 

Here are the top 20 most competitive rental markets in the U.S. in 2024, from most to least competitive.

Hottest markets in the U.S.

  1. Miami-Dade, FL
  2. Milwaukee, WI
  3. North Jersey, NJ
  4. Suburban Chicago, IL
  5. Grand Rapids, MI
  6. Oklahoma City, OK
  7. Bridgeport - New Haven, CT
  8. Cincinnati, OH
  9. Lansing - Ann Arbor, MI
  10. Orlando, FL
  11. Orange County, CA
  12. Brooklyn, NY
  13. Omaha, NE
  14. Southwest Florida
  15. Eastern Virginia
  16. Kansas City, KS
  17. Tampa, FL
  18. San Diego, CA
  19. Suburban Philadelphia, PA
  20. Silicon Valley, CA

Hottest small rental markets 

  1. Fayetteville, AR
  2. Lafayette, IN
  3. Lehigh Valley, PA
  4. Knoxville, TN
  5. Harrisburg, PA
  6. Madison, WI
  7. Little Rock, AR
  8. Providence, RI
  9. Worcester - Springfield, MA
  10. Tulsa, OK

Ways to score a rental in a competitive market

In a competitive rental market, you’ll need more than a deposit to gain the advantage.  Here are a few tips to keep in mind. 

  • In addition to real estate websites, consider downloading apartment-hunting apps such as Zillow, Trulia, Apartment List,, HotPads, Zumper and For shared housing, search on your local Craigslist site. 
  • Be ready to fill out the application on the spot.
  • Have a list of references handy.
  • Check your credit report and credit score before you go apartment hunting.
  • Although a few landlords accept payments through online third parties like Zelle, most still prefer a personal or cashier's check. Do yourself a favor and bring a check along for the deposit if you can.
  • Understand who pays for what. Are utilities included in the rent? What repairs are covered by the lease agreement?
  • Ask questions. Do they allow pets? Is there parking? What security measures keep tenants safe?
  • If your location is flexible, check out other places to rent in the 10 Biggest Cities with the Cheapest Apartment Rents.

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Kathryn Pomroy

For the past 18+ years, Kathryn has highlighted the humanity in personal finance by shaping stories that identify the opportunities and obstacles in managing a person's finances. All the same, she’ll jump on other equally important topics if needed. Kathryn graduated with a degree in Journalism and lives in Duluth, Minnesota. She joined Kiplinger in 2023 as a contributor.