May 19, 2023 - Real Estate

What $1,500 gets you in Portland apartments

Illustration of apartment doorbells with an intercom shaped like a dollar sign.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Portland apartments don't give you much room for your buck.

Why it matters: Apartment vacancies are easing but still tight in Portland at 5.09%, according to an April landlords report. Low supply pushes up rents, which has been linked to homelessness, including in the Portland area.

Driving the news: A new look at rents in the 200 biggest U.S. cities found Portland close to the very small end of square footage per dollar.

  • In Portland, $1,500 a month gets 645 square feet on average. That's a small one-bedroom apartment.

Zoom out: $1,500 in Vancouver goes further, getting 807 square feet — about one bedroom more.

  • Seattle is the most cramped in our region. $1,500 a month rents on average just 453 square feet of living space.
  • Nationally, Wichita, Kansas offers the most room — a 3- or 4-bedroom place, more than 1,400 square feet.

Of note: The study was done by the apartment listing service RentCafe and only considered the rent-to-space ratio in buildings with 50 units or more.

  • Data crunchers calculated what $1,500 gets you by examining average rents and average apartment sizes per city.

Reality check: Rent per square foot of course depends on other factors, including location and amenities.

  • $1,500 in the Pearl rents a 573-square-foot studio.
  • On SE 122nd, it gets a two-bedroom townhouse of 970 square feet.
  • Meanwhile, some buildings in Portland don't even rent studios at that price.

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