Rent on the rise in Nashville

Nashvillians feel growing pains as the rent increases in the city.
Published: Apr. 5, 2022 at 10:20 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - As the population grows in Nashville, many locals begin to notice Tuesday that the cost of living is rising.

Renters in Nashville say the city is getting too expensive to live in, and depending on what part of town you rent in, you’re paying anywhere from 3% to 30% more, that’s according to Greater Nashville Apartment Association Data.

“I don’t know if it’s contingent upon employers or upon renters, but it is just getting to be too expensive,” said Chrissy Clark, who just renewed her lease for her apartment in Germantown.

If you rent almost anywhere in Nashville, chances are what you pay in rent has gone way up.

“Base rent went up $150 for me,” said Clark. “I’m talking to other friends down the hallway. Some people’s rent went up $200. I have a friend that said his went up $300,” she added.

“I pay about $1800 for 635 square feet, basically a one-bedroom,” said Adam Eyl, who has been in Nashville for six months and rents near the Germantown area.

And these prices have renters disturbed.

“These are units that don’t even have like bedroom doors, but it’s like $16, $1,700,” Clark said. “it’s kind of wild,” she added.

“it’s a ridiculous price to be paying for normal working-class people,” Ely said.

And the reason for the hike in prices; is a classic supply and demand situation that’s according to Andy Borchers, Associate Dean At The College Of Business At Lipscomb University.

“Places like Nashville had many people coming into the area from various companies moving here. We have a lot of people looking for housing on the one hand. On the other hand, the supply side has been drastically affected. The time it takes to build an apartment. The cost to build the apartment has gone up dramatically,” said Professor Andy Borchers. “So demand is up, supply is down, and the consequence is rising prices,’ he added.

Renters feel the pain as they renew their lease or look for a new space, all while trying to meet other ends.

“We can afford to live and get by and get groceries, but that’s nearly impossible to save any more money living here,” said Eyl. “I work in a kitchen in a decent restaurant; my girlfriend works at a non-profit; we should be able to afford a little bit more space for what we do,” he added.

According to Greater Nashville Apartment Association:

The average highest rent is just over $2300 in downtown Nashville. And the lowest rent average is about $1,079 in the Bordeaux-Whites Creek area.

The data also showed that rent had increased almost 13.92% from the first quarter of 2021. And the average rent price is $1530.

“And I kind of get scared that, you know, Nashville maybe five to 10 years behind Austin, and we’re seeing some of those prices come up,” said Clark.

“We’re up 14%, places like Austin 40 percent,” said Professor Borchers.

“Came from Cincinnati. Lived roughly lived in an equivalent neighborhood to Germantown, a kind of suburban close to downtown, and paid $1000 in rent. Utilities included for probably 2000 square feet, two bedrooms, two kitchens, a dining room, sunroom, living room. A nice bathroom,” Eyl said.

News 4′s Tosin Fakile asked renters and Professor Borchers how much they think people need to make to live comfortably in Nashville.

“I’d say $75, $80,000,” Eyl said.

“It’s pretty hard to argue that something under $60,000 a year to be a reasonable level to live at,” said Professor Borchers. “I would start it at the 60 to 70,000 range and go up from there,” he added.

So what break is there for renters? Professor Borchers said renters could explore some options, including roommates.

“Yes, roommates are one possible answer. For some families, it might be multigenerational families, where grandma, grandpa and grandma, and the kids and the grandkids may be housed together,” Professor Borchers said. “Looking at the area, it’s how far out can you move to look at areas like Lebanon, Dixon would make more sense to you. Certainly, that’s a possible answer. You may find rent to be more affordable. But then when you do that, you have to face the transportation challenge of how do I get to work if my work is the kind of work that requires me to be physically present,” he added.

“I tried to think about like putting that $150 away from that I could have put in rent towards an IRA, toward savings towards crypto, whatever I would want to invest it into something so that I could have money to buy a house,” Clark said. “And when people look at you know Gen Z and millennials, and they’re like how do you guys not afford a house? Well, because I’m paying $1,700 a month in rent, and it’s just it’s kind of a lot of pressure on young people that do want to have financial independence,” she added.

But renters and experts say the city could help ease the burden differently for renters.

“I’d like to see rent control, and I’d like to see a more robust public transportation system,” said Eyl.

“One of the things the city can do is try to make it as accessible as possible for developers to develop new housing approaches, apartments townhomes,” Professor Borchers said. “It’s going to take for affordable housing to almost inevitably take some type of government help for a developer to find their way to spend money building affordable housing when they can make the unaffordable housing and make a bigger profit,” he added.

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