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August 2, 2011

Top Secret Apartment Data

We at  domu have something golden, and, yes, we are gonna give it up for nothing.  It’s our no-longer-top-secret apartment data, and what it says about the Chicago rental market just may surprise you.

On any particular day there are thousands of apartment listings on domu, and that’s not including “building listings,” in which multiple apartments are advertised for rent in a single listing.  So we assigned our in-house computer nerd responsibility for taking periodic snapshots of this data, sorting the figures, applying a proprietary algorithm, and generating a list of the median rents in the 15 most popular Chicago neighborhoods on the website.

Today, for the very first time, we unveil our results to the general public.  In the graphs below, we have displayed the median rents in 15 select neighborhoods, sorted by apartment size and ranging from studios to three-bedroom units.  Some of the highlights are as follows:
 

  • River North and the Gold Coast are consistently the most expensive places to rent an apartment.  The studio and one-bedroom apartments are slightly cheaper in River North, but the two and three-bedroom apartments are significantly more expensive in the Gold Coast.
     
  • Across all unit types, Lincoln Park is typically less expensive than six other Chicago neighborhoods, including (in order), River North, the Gold Coast, the West Loop, the actual Loop, the South Loop, and Old Town.
     
  • The median rent for a River North studio ($1400) is exactly double the median rent for a Lincoln Square studio ($700).
     
  • For one and two-bedroom apartments, the median rent in River North is slightly more than double the median rent in Logan Square.  A one-bedroom renter in Logan Square saves, on average, $913 a month.  A two-bedroom renter in Logan Square saves, on average, $1475 a month.
     
  • The biggest pricing disparities occur in the three-bedroom category.  Three-bedroom apartments are nearly four-and-a-half times more expensive in the Gold Coast than they are in Logan Square and exactly twice as expensive in Lincoln Park as they are in Logan Square.
     
  • Of the most popular Chicago neighborhoods, the least expensive apartment option is an Edgewater studio.
     

We are already tracking changes in median rents with the passage of time, so stay tuned for even more insightful information from domu!

Cost Of One-Bedrooms In Chicago

Cost Of Two-Bedrooms In Chicago

Cost Of Three-Bedrooms In Chicago

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Christine Frech says

Tue, 08/02/2011 - 12:45pm

It should be noted that the rents advertised on Domu are not necessarily the rents that the apartments are rented for. To be most accurate with the data available, you would probably need to take the rents of ads as they are removed (or fall off) the site.

Andrew says

Tue, 08/02/2011 - 1:07pm

Christine Frech is correct. The graphs on this page reflect the "asking rents," not the "actual rents." We have no basis to know the actual rents, as our mission is solely to unite landlords with tenants and not to inject ourselves into their transactions.

daytonapt4rent says

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 7:52am

Wow. Thanks for sharing. That is useful to see. In general, the closer a listing is to the core of a downtown area of a major city, the more expensive the prices will be for rent and other costs of living. The major large scale commerce areas of Chicago are still downtown and you can see the proximity of River North and the Gold Coast being right on the edge of the core downtown zone, with the Loop and others right there. Lakeview and Bucktown are a ways out and so the prices are lower. Why that is in Chicago and other cities where the downtown hub seems to demand higher prices is for myriad reasons. More over, compare the area size of Gold Coast, the Loop and Old Town to that of Lincoln Park and Lakeview (for just an example). The last two are about 3.2 sq miles each for total area. That gives more land to have more housing options spread across. So you have higher and lower costs rentals, being relative, due to more choices in overall units and unit types available. Not all one bedrooms are equal in price an options available, even within one neighborhood. The matter of what a renter gets in terms of sq footage for what type of rented dwelling also varies. Prices alone don't tell that there could be a 400-600 sq foot or more difference in a listing for a one bedroom in Lincoln Park vs River North. One renter could decide the location or extras (doorman, parking etc) is worth a trade off in size or that size matters more and the price is better over all in one neighborhood down. That goes back to the matter of the final price agreed on for the rental contract vs the listed price. What I always find interesting is the border zones and the prices there. Listing for different units that are right with a block or three walking distance between Lincoln Park and Old Town or Lincoln Park and Lakeview for example. For the same basic rental type the prices can swing wildly when the invisible line making the border is accounted for. The exact area is more or less one, but the prices can be 30% different at times since one is technically living now in a different section of the city. A graph like this one is very useful to see the overall trend of rental prices. The best tool I have found, to be competitive, is to check the listings that you are competing with within from the exact partition of the neighborhood where your rental units are. For example, mine are by the Steppenwolf and I am most interested not in Bucktown nor the South Loop but ones which are similar within the immediate area with several blocks. There is no ready made online chart at that level of detail. Sill, checking other listing online and walking the beat are great ways to see what else is there, how long it was on the market and what it offers that you don't or vice versa and other points. Needing to change a price or do an upgrade (new counter tops or lights and fresh paint) so that you can list that upgrade may be needed to get an edge over others even for a higher asking price then theirs. It is nice to have charts like this one so that a landlord can see the overall, if general, price range for his or her units when compared to others in the city in that area as well as area to area for prices. Asking price needs to always be considered as part of the first impression a potential renter will get. It is good to know data such as this. You don't want to set the asking price too out of proportion, but also you can gain an edge by raising your prices and offering extras that competing units will not be able to match within that area and get higher rents that way.

John Cinkus says

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 9:04am

It would be very helpful to include data from the near Southside of Chicago, mainly the South Loop, Pilsen and Bridgeport neighborhoods. These areas have historically been at lower price points on a cost-per-square-foot-basis. What is extremely pleasing to renters is the often overlooked ease of parking (often right in front of the buildings) and the relative ease of access to the Loop. Many of the neighborhoods are a mere ten minutes from downtown!

Andrew says

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 9:21am

Great points being made by the domu user community. daytonapt said it better than we could, although we should point out that domu does not have consistent access to square footage information, so we have no choice but to compare prices based on number of bedrooms. john cinkus would like to see the data on neighborhoods like bridgeport, and we have it, although the total population size of our bridgeport listings was not large enough to provide us with sufficient statistical certainty that our "median rent" figures were reliable enough to be publicly shared.

Abbey says

Sat, 08/06/2011 - 10:12am

It feels pretty misleading to leave out huge swaths of the city, yet still call the graphs "cost of a ___ in Chicago" when really, all this is including, is north and north west side data. There are entire communities, dozens of neighborhoods, all valid parts of Chicago, that are completely ignored as if they did not exist.

Andrew says

Mon, 08/08/2011 - 7:58am

Abbey, please see the third sentence in my previous comment.

Jasmine says

Mon, 08/08/2011 - 5:14pm

Abbey: Those neighborhoods are ignored because the majority of them are dull and offer little to the urban adventurer that will normally use this website. NUFF SAID

Robert Salm says

Tue, 08/09/2011 - 12:42am

I'd like to see a breakout of the sample used for each area. For instance, Lake View is pretty easy--there are hundreds of buildings with apartments to get a good average. But when you look at River North, just how many made up the average? I'd also like to see more neighborhoods mentioned. Streeterville has been a defined area for almost twenty years. The "New East Side" has as well. Are those areas lumped in with the "Gold Coast" or "River North"? How about Albany Park, which is now considered one of the last bastions for cheap(er) space on the northside.

guest says

Tue, 08/09/2011 - 4:08pm

If you plan ahead and have 3 months to look you might be able to get a 2 bedroom apt in Lakeview for 1400. These princes are an average and you should never look at this at the absolute amount. If you are a savvy apt hunter, you know it takes a lot of foot work and time. So plan ahead unless you have some circumstance pushing you to get a place soon.

Lizzi H says

Tue, 08/09/2011 - 6:50pm

This was great to see. Now I don't feel like I'm getting a bum deal in my hood. ;)