Report shows renters are busy – coming and going 

Paula Wolf, Contributing Writer//May 16, 2022

Report shows renters are busy – coming and going 

Paula Wolf, Contributing Writer//May 16, 2022

Spurred by rising rents, low vacancy rates and the shift to remote work, metro-area rental markets in central Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley show heavy migration trends both coming and going. 

The just-released quarterly Renter Migration Report from Apartment List provides details on where renters are looking to move, summarizing data from their online searches. 

“… In general, we’re seeing a lot more cross-metro search activity taking place in and out of the smaller PA metros, whereas Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are more self-contained,” Rob Warnock, Apartment List senior research associate, wrote in an email. 

He said that Philadelphia “is by far the largest source of search interest into the rest of PA, and somewhat less so in the other direction. New York exerts some influence into and out of Allentown, but less so Harrisburg, Lancaster and York.” 

For example, 49.1% of searches for apartments in the Harrisburg area came from people outside that metro. At the same time, 41.7% of searches initiated by Harrisburg renters were to a different metro. 

In Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, 25.6% and 35.6% of searches for apartments there, respectively, were from those in other metros. Meanwhile, 34.4% of searches generated by Philadelphia renters and 31.4% by Pittsburgh renters were to other metros. 

Here are some more highlights from the report: 

  • For the Allentown metro area, 50.4% of searches for rentals there were generated by individuals who lived elsewhere. Of that group, 41% were from Philadelphia, 19% from New York and 5% from Washington, D.C.
  • Of the outbound searches – people looking to move away from Allentown – 17% were to Philadelphia, 16% to New York and 5% to East Stroudsburg.
  • In Harrisburg, 37% of the inbound searches were from Philadelphia, 7% from Washington and 6% from Lancaster. The top three destinations for outbound searches were Philadelphia, 10%, Washington, 6%, and Lebanon, 5%.
  • Also, 39% of inbound searches for renters interested in moving into York came from the Philadelphia metro area, followed by Lancaster (8%) and Washington (8%). The most outbound searches from York renters were directed to Baltimore, 15%, Philadelphia, 9%, and Harrisburg, 9%.

The migration report identified national trends as well. For instance, five metros – San Jose, California; Raleigh, North Carolina; Austin, Texas; Denver, Colorado; and Nashville, Tennessee – rank in the top 10 in both inbound and outbound rental search activity. 

That “indicates the market is popular, but experiencing high turnover,” Apartment List noted. 

What they have in common is technology-driven economies with relatively high wages, the report explained, but also relatively expensive housing markets.