Rental Market

Trends in the Tucson and Pima County rental market

Renters account for 37.6% of households in the Tucson MSA (as of 2018). The proportion of renters to homeowners in Tucson has increased over time.

Year % Owner % Renter
2010 64.6% 35.4%
2013 62.7% 37.3%
2018 62.4% 37.6%

Like owned homes, rental home prices vary widely around the City of Tucson and within Pima County. This chart shows the history of rental prices in the Tucson metropolitan area (as estimated by the Zillow Observed Rent Index), monthly from January 2014 through April 2020.

The chart is interactive: scroll over the line to see rent prices at any time period.

Rent in the Tucson MSA

Between 2010 and 2013, a period during which median home prices decreased, median rent increased 8.3% in the region. Between 2013 and 2018, median rent rose nearly 11%.

Year Median Contract Rent (Tucson MSA) % change from previous
2010 $737 N/A
2013 $798 +8.3%
2018 $885 +10.9%

The table below shows the number and portion of households paying rent in various ranges. Over half of renter households pay between $500-1,000 in rent. Over 80% pay less than $1,500 in rent.

Rent Paid Number %
Less than $500 11,629 8.1%
$500 - 999 75,575 52.6%
$1,000 - 1,499 42,649 29.7%
$1,500 - 1,999 9,687 6.7%
$2,000 or more 4,097 2.9%
Total 143,637 100%

Rental Price Growth by Census Tract

While rent price growth for the entire Tucson MSA was +10.9% between 2013 and 2018, rent increases vary widely around the MSA. Rents decreased significantly in central Tucson tracts 31.01 between Speedway and Pima (west of Swan), 40.71 between Broadway and Speedway (east of Pantano), 18.01 between Pima and Flower (east of Alvernon), and 13.02/13.04 along Oracle between Mabel and Miracle Mile. Conversely, rents increased even more significantly along East Catalina Highway (in tracts 40.50/40.51/40.52/40.54) and between River and Sunrise (east of Swan in tracts 47.20/47.22/47.24). These increases could be attributed to rentals coming onto the rental market since 2013 or to impacts from disproportionately small sample sizes in those tracts.

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Median Rental Price by Census Tract

The map below shows median rent prices by Census tract from the 2018 5-year American Community Survey - the most recent data available by tract. Rental prices range from $400 to $2,523. (Keep in mind that median rent prices in the ACS data are based on survey respondents' answers to a subjective question asking for the dollar value of rent paid - the survey answers are not verified.) The highest median rents are located in Census tracts in northeast Tucson, mostly outside of city limits between River and Sunrise (east of Swan), while the lowest rents are located in along Oracle between Mabel and Miracle Mile.

While rent price growth for the entire Tucson MSA was +10.9% between 2013 and 2018, rent increases vary widely around the MSA. Rents decreased significantly in central Tucson tracts 31.01 between Speedway and Pima (west of Swan), 40.71 between Broadway and Speedway (east of Pantano), 18.01 between Pima and Flower (east of Alvernon), and 13.02/13.04 along Oracle between Mabel and Miracle Mile. Conversely, rents increased even more significantly along East Catalina Highway (in tracts 40.50/40.51/40.52/40.54) and between River and Sunrise (east of Swan in tracts 47.20/47.22/47.24). These increases could be attributed to rentals that were not in the rental market in 2013.

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Comparing Tucson’s Rent Prices

How does Tucson MSA (all of Pima County) compare to other western MSAs in rent prices? Tucson has the third-lowest rent prices among 12 western metropolitan areas, as of April 2020. However, Tucson had the third-highest rent price growth rate among its peers, at 5.1% in 2019, with only Phoenix and Colorado Springs seeing higher percentage increases in rental prices last year.