If you’ve ever searched for a lease that starts in August, you’ve likely noticed that finding a home both within your budget and your quality standards is harder than at other times of the year. You might find yourself flustered at the sheer lack of options that meet your needs. Don’t worry, you’re not setting the bar too high, and you’re probably not alone—August is indeed an incredibly challenging month in which to find a new apartment and start a new lease.
However, just because an August move poses more hurdles doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the most expensive month in which to move. Nevertheless, the month has acquired this reputation, so let’s find out: Is August really the most expensive month to rent?
August is the most common time of year for moving
Using data mined from Google Trends, rental experts have determined that more people move in August than during any other month. Basic economics states that, as demand increases but supply remains unchanged, prices will increase. Although new apartments are built often, the supply of homes can be assumed to be relatively stable, because the number of new apartments built per month is much smaller than the total number of apartments available in one market. Thus, landlords looking to find tenants for leases starting in August can charge higher rents, a trend that’s well-documented.
Why is August such a common month for moving?
Well, think about it: When was your first time living alone, not on a college campus? It was probably in an actual apartment off-campus, with a lease starting in August, since many colleges begin their classes mid- or late-month. The high number of college students across the country account for a large portion of the renters demanding new apartments in August.
College students are far from alone in driving August apartment demand. Families often move in the summer because August offers a convenient moving month for families looking to get fully settled before the school year kicks into full swing. People starting jobs may also find themselves moving in August, because summer is said to be the best season for job hunting, and some jobs require relocation. Additionally, in some cities with especially brutal, snowy winters—think Milwaukee, Minneapolis, and Denver, among others—winter moves come with the risk of movers canceling or roads being too dangerous.
Is August the most expensive month to rent?
Well, not necessarily. Whether August is the most expensive month to rent varies by year, though it is generally among the most expensive months to rent. From January 2017 through January 2018, August 2017 was indeed the most expensive month to rent. However, from January 2015 through January 2016, rent increased with every passing month, making August 2016 far from the most expensive month to rent. From January 2016 to January 2017, the most expensive month to rent was September 2016, but August 2016 pulled a close second.
When can I find cheaper rent?
Based on the times of year at which people move most often and when rents are higher, moving in December or January is best. In areas with extreme, frequently snowy winters, such moves may be too risky, but they may also account for these months’ decreased demand, which lowers rent prices. People are also less likely to move during the holiday season, which peaks just before Christmas and not long after New Year’s Day.
Although the data used to determine how rent changes by month do have some surprising variations, one thing remains consistent. January of any year is always the cheapest month to rent during that year. Consider a move during the coldest time of the year if you can.