COLUMN: Website finds Grand Forks among best places for renters

Graphic: The Charlotte Observer, MCT.

Despite a 2.3 percent vacancy rate and rent prices that have increased at a faster rate than income, a website says Grand Forks is one of the best places for renters in the country.

You read that right.

In the country.

The city is actually ranked No. 2 on the list, coming in right behind Fargo.

NerdWallet, a consumer finance site, proclaimed Grand Forks as one of the best because of its “sizable rental market” and affordability.

Anyone who has searched for an apartment in the city within the past year probably just laughed out loud reading that sentence.

So what’s the site’s logic?

 “NerdWallet ranked U.S. cities according to the following questions:

  1. Is there a sizable rental market? We looked at the percentage of total households that are renters to gauge the quality and size of the rental market.
  2. Is renting affordable for the average individual? We looked at the percentage of the monthly median income needed to rent a one-bedroom apartment.”

If you were curious, about half of Grand Forks 53,000 residents rent, according to census data. City officials estimate there are about 11,200 units in the city. So sure, the city has a sizable renting market. Too bad less than 3 percent has been it is up for grabs at any point in time this year.

What about being affordable? Most renters would tell you that’s not the case either.

NerdWallet found the average one-bedroom apartment price to be $512, claiming it is low because it costs 9 percent of the city’s median income. As it turns out, the median income used by the site is $67,000. In Grand Forks, that is the median income for a family of four. A one-bedroom probably isn’t the recommended living space for four people.

Rent costs in the city actually increased a total of $6,000 per year ($155 per month) from 2000 to 2010 in the city. How much did the median renter’s income go up during this same time period? At least half that amount right? Nope. Try about $1,000 ($22,025 in 2000, $23,106 in 2010).

NerdWallet’s results will likely be more believable when construction finishes on more 1,200 apartment units planned for the city.

In the meantime, I guess Grand Forks renters are left to revel in the city’s “thriving” and affordable rental market located a “mere 80 miles away from Fargo.”

If you missed the link at the top, here’s the rest of the report.

3 thoughts on “COLUMN: Website finds Grand Forks among best places for renters

  1. That is why one should always take these “non academic” type of reports/rankings with a grain of salt. They only use baseline measurements without actually looking at what is occurring in an area.

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