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When is the best time to rent in Chicago?

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Apartment prices peak after summer and dip to their lowest levels in the early spring


Conventional wisdom suggests that it’s cheaper to rent in the winter compared to the summer. But does this hold true in Chicago, a city known for its dramatic shifts in seasonal weather? According to a recent report from Renthop examining monthly rental prices in the nation’s ten most populous cities, the answer is a strong yes.

Based on the data, rents in Chicago tend to peak around September and October. Prices dip to their lowest levels in March and April, which is later in the year compared to the other cities in the report—possibly attributed to Chicago’s “dreaded winter,” says Renthop.

Of the ten cities in the report, Chicago had the highest seasonality when it came to two-bedroom apartments, equating to a 7.1 percent swing. For Chicago’s one-bedroom units, the study found the seasonal differential to be 4.3 percent—second highest behind only New York’s 4.7 percent shift.

In Chicago, the seasonal swing for a two-bedroom apartment is considerably more pronounced than that of a one-bedroom unit, according to the report.

Beyond renters wanting to avoid the hassle of dragging their belongings through a foot of wintery slush, what other factors influence price seasonality?

Generally speaking, students and graduates entering the job market tend to relocate in the summer. The same holds true for families wanting to avoid the disruption of moving during the academic school year. These renters often tend to stick to the same annual lease renewal schedule.

Based on 2018 median rental prices, the study concluded that the peak differentials for Chicago one- and two-bedroom apartments equate to $80 and $176 per month, respectively. So is it worth it to try to time your move and capitalize on the winter lull? It depends.

While demand for apartments dips during the colder months, often so does the supply. You might pay slightly less, but you may have fewer options from which to choose, Curbed’s Jeff Andrews explains. The lower rents offered during a down period can be a consideration, but probably not be the deciding factor behind your move.

“We always tell people you shouldn’t try to time the market,” says Aaron Terrazas, Zillow’s director of economic research. “You should move or buy a home because big life changes are happening—you need an extra bedroom because you’re having a kid, [or] you’re retiring and moving to a different climate. Those are the reasons to move, not because of a couple dollars difference in timing the market.”