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Sep 05

Seattle area rental demand high… and so are rents

for-rent-sign-in-yard1Low housing inventory, a growing population of young tech-company workers and changing attitudes about when to buy a home are all contributing to rent increases throughout the Seattle metro area. Even after hundreds of new units opened up in Seattle this year, demand and rent prices have continued to move up and show no signs of settling down soon.

Widespread increases are evident in rent statistics from Zillow, an online real-estate database: In the last two years, the median rent for Seattle studio apartments has gone up $434 in Wallingford, $419 in Capitol Hill, and $306 in Ballard.

Suburbs not much cheaper

Even a move out to South King County, the Eastside, Kitsap or Snohomish County isn’t quite the escape from a high cost of living that it used to be.

Since last summer, Zillow reports that rents have climbed 7.5 percent in Kirkland to a median of $1,958 per month, 5.8 percent in Lynnwood to a median of $1,607, and 4.7 percent in Everett to a median of $1,431.

Outside of Seattle, median studio rent increased over a two-year period by $423 in Bellevue, $361 in Federal Way, and $295 in Everett.

Small spaces in dense neighborhoods

Smaller, more expensive units have become commonplace in the densest neighborhoods. The average monthly rent for all unit types on Capitol Hill — $1,395, according to an industry-analysis firm, Apartment Insights — buys about 500 square feet in some buildings.

Those who need a cheaper place to stay in the city can look for in-law units, converted garages or shared housing situations that can be found on websites such as Craigslist. But even those can be expensive: One reader who responded to our online questionnaire said she was renting a converted garage of less than 400 square feet in Phinney for $1,000 a month.

Many have been bypassing those options for microhousing units, often called aPodments. Rent is around $600 for those quickly multiplying units, which come as small as 150 square feet.

Commuting cost of living farther from work center

The King County Metro commuter calculator (http://1.usa.gov/3uEa1X) estimates that the minimum monthly cost of one person commuting to Seattle from Woodinville would be $239, $287 from Federal Way, and $334 from Everett.

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