Rental rates in the Denver area reached their highest point ever in 2018.
An analysis of historical data shows that rent costs in the early 2010s, which qualified as modest by the standards of the day, skyrocketed mid-decade and remain at eye-popping levels.
An example: Median rent for a one-bedroom apartment eight years ago barely topped $800. Today, the most recent estimate from the Rent Jungle website is $1,432 — an increase of nearly 79 percent. And the latest price is actually lower than in June, when it peaked at $1,457.
The site's report about average rent trends in Denver includes median one-bedroom, two-bedroom and overall totals for every month beginning in January 2011. And following the numbers from then to November 2018 reveals how the screws have been tightened on Mile High City renters over this period.
That first month, a typical one-bedroom went for just $801, and a two-bedroom could be had for $1,110, resulting in an overall median of $1,019. And rent prices actually slid shortly thereafter thanks to the Great Recession, which was still very much in effect, with one-bedroom rent in Denver bottoming out at $722 in June.
The price hasn't been that low since. One-bedroom rent took a big leap up in August 2011, when the median costs increased to $880 — and the next month was marked by another huge bump, to $994. At that point, the race was on, topping $1,000 in May 2012, $1,100 in May 2013, $1,200 in October 2014, $1,300 in April 2015 and $1,400 in June 2016.
From there, one-bedroom prices actually slipped a bit, remaining under $1,400 for much of the next two years. But the barrier was broken again in April, and the median price remained above that threshold throughout the remainder of 2018.
In comparison, two-bedroom rents haven't risen quite as quickly over the same period, but close: just over 60 percent. As for the overall median rent, it's increased by 53 percent — a number worse than that found in an April study from RealPage.com, which showed a 48 percent bump since 2010. Yet the latter figure was still the fourth-largest boost in the country during that span. Only three cities in the California Bay Area were worse.
In recent months, Denver-area rent has moderated a bit, giving renters hope of some relief in the new year. But a return to early decade totals is the stuff of impossible dreams.
Visit Westword to see a month-by-month breakdown of rising rental rates in the Denver Metro area.