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10 Cities With Skyrocketing Rent

Christine DiGangi

Sorry, Silicon Valley — rent in San Francisco is still on the rise. Zillow's Rent Index, which looks at median rents in the nation's hottest markets, has San Francisco and San Jose at the top of its list for largest year-over-year increase. As unwelcome as that news may be for people in the Bay Area, it's probably not surprising.

San Francisco tends to get the most attention when it comes to stories about the expensive places to live (New York, its constant competitor for that dubious distinction, saw only a 2.1% increase in median rent, compared to San Francisco's 14.9% jump), but housing costs have jumped significantly in some smaller markets, like Denver and Kansas City, Mo., as well.

The Zillow Rent Index is based on the estimated monthly rental price of properties in Zillow's database, including single-family homes, condos, co-ops and apartments, regardless of whether or not they're listed for rent. Nationwide, median rent increased 3.3% from January 2014 to January 2015, at $1,350. Here are the metro areas that had the largest year-over-year price jumps.

10. Detroit
Median rent, January 2015: $1,096
Increase since January 2014: 5%

9. Phoenix
Median rent: $1,225
Increase: 5.3%

8. Houston
Median rent: $1,497
Increase: 5.9%

7. Charlotte, N.C.
Median rent: $1,235
Increase: 6.1%

6. Austin, Texas
Median rent: $1,657
Increase: 7%

5. Portland, Ore.
Median rent: $1,587
Increase: 7.2%

4. Kansas City, Mo.
Median rent: $1,214
Increase: 8.5%

3. Denver
Median rent: $1,827
Increase: 10.2%

2. San Jose, Calif.
Median rent: $3,190
Increase: 13.4%

1. San Francisco
Median rent: $3,055
Increase: 14.9%

Only two of the 36 markets listed in Zillow's index had drops in median rent: Minneapolis-St. Paul (down 0.3%) and Chicago (down 0.5%), though both cities still have above-average median rents, at $1,502 and $1,609, respectively.

While New York and Los Angeles didn't have top-10 increases in their median rents, the first- and second-largest cities in the U.S. still have some of the highest housing costs. L.A.'s median rent increased 4.9% from 2014 to $2,460 (third highest), and New York/Northern New Jersey came in at No. 4 with a median rent of $2,331.

Rent experts consulted by Zillow for this report say Americans should expect to spend about 30% of their incomes on rent, as opposed to 25%, which the report says is the historical standard. No matter where you live, whether it has skyrocketing or steady rent, it's crucial to choose a place that fits your budget. Failing to pay your rent may prompt your landlord to send a debt collector after you or even evict you from the property, both of which will seriously damage your credit. Poor credit makes it harder to get an apartment, not to mention the fact that utility providers often ask for deposits from poor-credit customers, so as tempting as it may be to breach your rental budget, that up-sell could really cost you. You can get a free credit report summary on Credit.com to see where you stand.

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