Amazon’s new HQ2 could come with a scary consequence for renters in the final cities — here’s who is most at risk

Rents could be subject to the Amazon premium.

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Rents could be subject to the Amazon premium.
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blvdone/Shutterstock

  • Amazon has narrowed its search for the site of its next headquarters, dubbed HQ2, to 20 cities.
  • Amazon HQ2 would have great economic impact on the city it chooses, potentially lowering unemployment, increasing average wages, and raising rents.
  • A report by Apartment List predicts Raleigh and Pittsburgh would feel the rent increases the most.

Amazon revealed the 20 locations on its shortlist for HQ2, its new $5 billion headquarters, on Thursday.

The e-commerce giant announced last year that HQ2 will eventually house 50,000 mostly white-collar workers making an average of over $100,000 a year.

Since Amazon has taken over Seattle, where it employs over 30,000 workers, the city has become the fastest-growing in the US and the nation’s largest company town, The Seattle Times reported. As such, residents are paying a premium to live there.

The situation is likely to be the same for one of the final 20 cities vying for Amazon’s HQ2 as they hope to replicate Seattle’s economic boom. That’s according to a report from Apartment List, which analyzed how rents in the top contending cities would be affected if Amazon moved in.

Apartment List gathered data – including vacancy rates, median income, and median rent, as well as housing development and rent increases from 2005 to 2015 – for 16 American cities in the running. They used this data to project how HQ2 could change annual rent growth and then calculated the expected additional cost to renter households over a 10-year period.

The study looks at the metro level, so Newark, New Jersey, and New York City, are broadly considered the New York metro area and Montgomery County and Northern Virginia are part of the Washington, DC, metro. Apartment List did not estimate the rent impact on Toronto, the only non-US city in the running, because their calculations used US Census and Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

All data is from August 2017, when Apartment List first calculated the impact of HQ2 on the top contending cities.

Below, check out how rents would change in 16 cities if Amazon moved in:


Atlanta, Georgia

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ESB Professional/Shutterstock

Median rent: $1,160

Additional annual rent growth: 0.5% – 0.7%

Cost to renter over 10 years: $3,882 – $5,208


Austin, Texas

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Visit Austin, Texas/Facebook

Median rent: $1,386

Additional annual rent growth: 0.8% to 1%

Cost to renter over 10 years: $7,441 to $9,706


Boston, Massachusetts

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Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Median rent: $1,969

Additional annual rent growth: 0.5% to 0.8%

Cost to renter over 10 years: $6,608 to $10,539


Chicago, Illinois

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Lucky-photographer/Shutterstock

Median rent: $1,249

Additional annual rent growth: 0.4% – 0.6%

Cost to renter over 10 years: $3,083 – $4,732


Columbus, Ohio

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f11photo/Shutterstock

Median rent: $964

Additional annual rent growth: 1.3% – 1.7%

Cost to renter over 10 years: $8,414 – $11,297


Dallas, Texas

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f11photo/Shutterstock

Median rent: $1,202

Additional annual rent growth: 0.2% – 0.4%

Cost to renter over 10 years: $1,838 – $3,237


Denver, Colorado

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Arina P Habich/Shutterstock

Median rent: $1,480

Additional annual rent growth: 0.8% to 1.1%

Cost to renter over 10 years: $7,751 to $11,452


Indianapolis, Indiana

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KYPhua/Shutterstock

Median rent: $861

Additional annual rent growth: 1.2% – 1.6%

Cost to renter over 10 years: $7,208 – $9,479


Los Angeles, California

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blvdone/Shutterstock

Median rent: $1,807

Additional annual rent growth: 0.3% – 0.5%

Cost to renter over 10 years: $4,011 – $6,009


Miami, Florida

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Richard Cavalleri/Shutterstock

Median rent: $1,397

Additional annual rent growth: 0.6% – 0.8%

Cost to renter over 10 years: $5,919 – $7,294


Nashville, Tennessee

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ESB Professional/Shutterstock

Median rent: $1,124

Additional annual rent growth: 1.2% – 1.5%

Cost to renter over 10 years: $8,847 – $11,932


Newark, New Jersey – New York City, New York

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iStock/MIHAI ANDRITOIU

Median rent: $1,802

Additional annual rent growth: 0.1% – 0.2%

Cost to renter over 10 years: $1,391 – $2,182


Northern Virginia – Montgomery County, Maryland – Washington, DC

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Orhan Cam/Shutterstock

Median rent: $1,753

Additional annual rent growth: 0.3% – 0.5%

Cost to renter over 10 years: $3,750 – $5,757


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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Ed Yakovich / Wikimedia Commons

Median rent: $1,253

Additional annual rent growth: 0.6% to 0.8%

Cost to renter over 10 years: $5,057 to $6,506


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

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Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Median rent: $837

Additional annual rent growth: 1.2% to 1.6%

Cost to renter over 10 years: $6,970 to $9,533


Raleigh, North Carolina

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Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Median rent: $1,113

Additional annual rent growth: 1.5% to 2%

Cost to renter over 10 years: $11,756 to $15,356