Rents are skyrocketing nationwide – and Badgers are paying the price. But could relief be on the way?
Rent prices across America have been on the rise for the past few years, and Wisconsin is no exception. Since 2020, Wisconsin rents have jumped as high as 35% in Oshkosh and 43% in Green Bay–with federal forecasts predicting prices still haven’t peaked (they’re expected to do so later this summer.)
Here’s how much the average renter is paying for a one-bedroom apartment in Wisconsin’s six biggest cities, according to data from Zumper.
Wisconsin’s capital city clocks in with the highest average monthly rent at nearly $1,500 dollars for a one-bedroom apartment.
Students at UW-Madison are particularly concerned by the city’s rising rent prices. According to a recent survey of 1,700 Badgers, students expect to pay between $500-$800/month. Current rents are nearly triple their expectations.
Surprisingly, Kenosha lands number two in the statewide ranking. Just 60 miles from Chicago, Kenosha’s prices have gone up 17% in just the past year.
Milwaukee comes in a close third, with an average monthly rent just one dollar less than Kenosha. However, some neighborhoods cost significantly more, like Kilbourn Town and the Lower East Side–where rents average $1,700 and $1,500, respectively. Riverwest and Cambridge Heights are the city’s cheapest neighborhoods, averaging less than $900 for a one-bedroom.
Eau Claire, $895
Eau Claire is Wisconsin’s fourth most expensive city for renters, but prices are actually down 14% from this time last year.
La Crosse, $850
Not far behind Eau Claire is La Crosse, where rents have slightly dropped since August 2022, when the average one-bedroom cost $1,000/month.
Green Bay, $775
With an average rent nearly half of Madison’s, Green Bay is among Wisconsin’s most affordable cities, which is among the reasons USA Today named it the best place in America to live in 2023-2024.
MORE: Green Bay Named the No. 1 Place to Live in the US
After three years of price hikes, state and federal lawmakers are starting to intervene to make living in Wisconsin a little more affordable.
Earlier this year, the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) announced it will cap annual rent increases at 5% for federally or state-subsidized affordable housing units. Residents in apartments using state or federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits are protected under this policy.
This new plan works in partnership with the Biden Administration’s Resident-Centered Housing Challenge – a national call for state, local and Tribal governments to “enhance existing policies and develop new ones that promote fairness and transparency in the rental market,” according to the White House.
Gov. Tony Evers’ new state budget dedicated even more funding to promote affordable housing development. In the state’s newest attempt, a five bill affordable housing package signed by Evers in June will use state funds to encourage housing development for working class populations.
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