Chicago rent keeps rising, higher cost of living straining many residents

ByJason Knowles and Ann Pistone and Maggie Green WLS logo
Friday, September 8, 2023
Chicago rent keeps rising, higher cost of living straining many residents
Apartments for rent in Chicago are becoming more expensive with every year, causing strain for residents and making some wonder if they should move.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago residents are straining under higher costs of living, as rent continues to rise each year.

For Galewood resident Ashley Golf, rent has increased by 26% in the last three years that she and her two children have lived in their apartment.

"I love my home, but I don't think the hike is fair," Golf said. "I think about everyone else, and how is everyone else affording this?"

Part of Golf's increased living expenses include a $50 service fee for water and trash, as well as $20 for security costs added in 2022. Golf said two of her neighbors have moved out of the neighborhood recently, telling her that the rent surge was a significant part of the decision.

The ABC7 Data Team found that the median rent for a one bedroom apartment in Chicago is currently $1,385, up almost 24% compared to this time last year and 10% higher than the national median.

The average cost of a two bedroom apartment is $1,745, up nearly 30% compared to the same time last year. That price is 13% above the national median.

In terms of Chicago neighborhoods with the largest rent increases in the last year, Lincoln Park had the highest; up 10.6% from an average rent of $2,176 per month to $2,406. The Wrigleyville and Buena Park neighborhoods increased 10.3% from an average rent of $1,708 per month to $1,883.

John Bartlett, executive director of the Metropolitan Tenants Organization, said more corporate entities are buying up rentals and driving the market prices up.

"We've noticed that the number of tenants calling about large rent increases has increased, 500 calls a year for us," Bartlett said. "So that's quite a few. And these are significant rent increases."

The price hikes hurt low income people the most, Bartlett said.

"People's wages have not kept pace at that rate," Bartlett said. "Oftentimes, they have less resources, and so that move is just much harder than somebody who has plenty of money."

The I-Team contacted the management company for Golf's apartment complex. They acknowledged the email but never responded.

Bartlett said the city should consider implementing rental policies, like rent control, as a broader solution, but there are things renters can do now to try to save money.

"Always try to negotiate, especially if you're a good tenant," Bartlett said. "Because no matter what, if the landlord's going to have to find a new tenant, that's going to cost them money no matter what, because they have to put ads out there. You have to show the place, have to do all this work. They may be willing to take a little bit lower in order to keep a good tenant in place."

Meanwhile, Golf is tightening her budget in order to afford the increased rate, but acknowledges that others may not have that option.

"How is everyone else going to do it?" Golf said. "Especially other single mothers taking care of everything on their own."

There are other steps you can take to save. Sometimes landlords will lower the cost of rent if you can sign a longer lease. If you are renting from a corporate landlord, they may have move-in deals where you do not have to pay the first month's rent.

Also, remember to weigh in the cost of moving your belongings, versus the cost of the rent increase when considering a move due to price hikes.