Rents are on the rise in Tampa, faster than any other city in Florida according to Apartmentlist.com. And that comes as no surprise to renters and realtors alike.
Wendi Zeke is a single mom of two teenage boys. Keeping them in a comfortable home near good schools is a priority for her.
"A little over a year ago, I found myself in a situation where I sold my home," she said. What I found was rentals were extremely expensive and when you could find a reasonable rental they were gone immediately."
She finally settled on a three-bedroom apartment that already exceeded her budget.
"I stayed there for a year and after my 12 month lease they raised my rent," she said.
Daniel Rothrock is a property manager with Eaton Realty. He says the price of rent is simply based on supply and demand. Good schools can also send rents soaring.
"We saw a historic low this past summer where the supply was so low and the demand was constant, if not increasing," he said. "That being said, prices went up pretty significantly."
And here's something else to keep in mind: as rent goes up and you're paying more and more per month, it might be time to talk to a realtor about actually buying a home. Rothrock generally agrees.
"Purchasing a home in most situations can outperform renting. You will find that you can get much more of a home for a mortgage plus taxes and insurance than, say, renting."
Wendi eventually wants to buy a home, but needs to rent a little while longer. She finally did find a rental last month that was several hundred dollars less than she paying. Finding that place wasn't easy and she offers this advice to anyone looking for the best deal.
"Talk to people, ask people, let people know and eventually someone will come up and say 'I have something available or I know someone who does.'"
It could take some time to find that perfectly-priced rental, so start looking early and even consider working with a realtor. Many like Rothrock work specifically with renters.
Tampa rents may be rising faster than any other city in the state, but they are still the most reasonable. A two-bedroom rental in the city averages $1,200 a month. In St. Pete it would be $1,300.
In Miami, however, the going rate is more than $2,300 a month.