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More space? Less Money? Research suggests St. Pete renters should consider going bigger

St. Petersburg is one of 30 cities across the nation where the average price of available two-bedroom apartments is now less than the average for one-bedrooms.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Rent prices just keep getting higher in our region. But in St. Petersburg, it’s gotten to the point that something very unusual is happening.

New research has found that on average, renting a two-bedroom place could be less expensive than a one-bedroom apartment.

“Rent is fairly high,” said Lara Tassara, a newcomer to the area.

You don’t have to tell apartment hunters like her trying to find a space in St. Petersburg that one-bedroom properties are hard to find. And pricey.

“Essentially the cheapest price I could get here,” said Tassara, “Is yeah – right around sixteen hundred."

And for that money, square footage isn’t always – shall we say – generous.

“It’s definitely a little small,” Oskar Mossberg said of his apartment on Central Avenue. “I’d be lying if I said otherwise.”

Given that demand and a lack of supply, the website Rent.com just found St. Pete is one of 30 cities across the nation — and the only one they found in Florida — where the average price of available two-bedroom apartments is now less than the average rent for available one-bedroom apartments.

About $85 less per month.

“Yeah, it’s crazy. The market surprises us all every day,” said Dan Pepper, whose company Rent Palm Property Management handles hundreds of properties.

Pepper says demand for a one-bedroom space is off the charts in St. Pete.

“It changes, crazy, street by street,” Pepper said. “And so, in fact, you can find sometimes a two-bedroom at a lower price two streets away from a one-bed.”

Pepper said no one should expect to get a two-bedroom place in the exact same building or apartment complex for less than a one-bedroom. But sometimes that extra space for less money isn’t necessarily across town. It could be right around the corner, he says.

“Yes, in fact, sometimes next door there may be a two-bedroom lower priced than the new construction one bedroom,” Pepper said.

“I would definitely look for a two-bedroom. I mean, more space. If I’m going to pay the same price for more space and I can still be in the same general area I would definitely take it,” Tassara said.

Mossberg agreed.

“100 percent no brainer that I would definitely take more space if I could still walk everywhere from downtown. And I can sacrifice maybe a block or two, like you mentioned, just to be able to access that,” he said.

The Rent.com research found areas with competitive two-bedroom pricing were usually close to bigger cities where rent is high and in spots where there are more two-bedroom apartments available.

For now, Pepper says that’s definitely the situation for St. Pete as newcomers get a feel for the region. But if they like it and decide to stay, he says he wouldn’t be surprised to see demand for more space make a comeback.

“So, we may find this time next year two-bedroom demand much higher. We may find house price demand much higher,” Pepper said. “But for the moment, this snapshot in time, one-bedrooms are the hot commodity.”

With apartments in such high demand, some advice from the experts includes checking online listings frequently. With computerized pricing, they say rent can change daily. Also, be patient, and don’t be afraid to search the same neighborhood for something with more room at the same or maybe even a lower price.

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