Marketing to Renters in the Windy City

Chicago is seeing a large influx of apartments entering the market. Keep your community competitive by focusing on the top amenities that renters are seeking.

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In the Chicago metro area, 56% of housing is renter-occupied, which equates to about 590,232 households. That’s a higher concentration of renters than the NYC metro area (49%) or the Seattle metro area (41%).

Yet, while apartment development in Chicago’s downtown is white hot, the question of oversupply is a looming concern for many analysts who are watching to see how population trends compare to apartment developments.

How Can Chicago Renter Analytics Help Your Apartment Marketing Strategy?

In order to keep your apartment community competitive among the many new units coming on the market, a smart approach is to look at renter behavior and demographics.

These analytics reveal key trends to help you effectively promote your property and position your marketing campaigns. This data can also give you the edge on knowing which features are more sought after, which will help you determine where to find the greatest ROI during remodeling or upgrades. has a rich understanding of renter preferences based on their online search patterns and demographic makeup. Using’s aggregated renter search data, we analyzed the amenities, features, and neighborhoods that Chicago renters prefer, as well their lifestyles, income, marital status, education, and rent range to create this Renter Insights Report for Chicago, IL. Take note of these trends, download and print it out, and share it with your leasing staff.

Chicago Renter Demographics

Let’s take a look at your core audience. Understanding the apartment hunters in your area is critical to mapping out your marketing and advertising strategy. This way you can budget accordingly and ensure you’re targeting the right age group on the right channels, using the appropriate messaging, and highlighting the right amenities to captivate their interest. The majority of renters who use typically have these characteristics:

●56% are female

●35% between 25 and 34 years old

●45% are married

●One-third have children

●59% have some college or higher

●58% have an average household income under $75,000

Rent Trends in Chicago

Rent prices in Chicago have been steady this past year as both population growth and new apartments have kept pace with each other. As of September 2018, the average cost of a studio apartment is $1,194 per month, and the average price for a two-bedroom is $1,852.

The majority of Chicago-area renters using, roughly 35%, are searching for one-bedroom apartments. With about 663 average square feet, one-bedroom units are currently renting for an average of $1,480 per month.

The average rents reported by Chicago properties are trending higher than the rent ranges renters are using on, where the majority, 23%, are budgeting between $1,000 - 1,299.

Top 5 Apartment Amenities

“Really you have a tale of two rental markets,” said Aaron Galvin, CEO and founder of Luxury Living Chicago.

He explained that in the Chicago market, there are large, high-end luxury rentals, and there are smaller apartments that are capturing the majority of the demand. “I think if a renter is going to pay the premium for those smaller units, they’re going to demand uber-nice finishes, excellent views, and prime locations.”

This is the story of the rental trends in many cities where apartment communities are competing in an “amenities arms race” to make their properties more competitive by enticing renters with features and add-ons.

In Chicago, the top five apartment amenities that renters are searching for are:

  1. In-unit washer/dryer
  2. Air conditioning
  3. Parking
  4. Dog-friendly
  5. Dishwasher

This tells us that renters are seeking spaces outfitted with the appliances they need to streamline household chores, provide a comfortable temperature level, and accommodate their dogs.

Additionally, while parking is a highly sought-after amenity, proximity to mass transit is becoming less of a draw. With apps such as Uber and Lyft increasing the options for renters to get around, an apartment near an L stop holds less value than it once did. CoStar Risk Analytics’ Justin Bakst notes, “It might lower the spread but it doesn't erase the spread.”

Chicago Pet Owners

Pet ownership has become a significant driver in apartment renters' searches.

Chicago property managers are keen to accommodate pets and nearly half of Chicago property listings on are pet-friendly. Dogs are immensely popular with 72% of pet-related searches for dog-friendly apartments and 28% of searches for cat-friendly apartments.

Yet, Windy City apartment communities that want to make their units more attractive to pet owners can go beyond simply allowing pets. By truly embracing pet ownership and offering pet-related amenities such as a rooftop dog park or in-house pet walking services, you can set your community apart from the crowd. Take a look at this infographic and article, Fetching an Edge with Pet-Friendly Apartment Amenities, for more tips on leveraging pet amenities and services to attract potential renters.

Top 5 Most Searched Neighborhoods in Chicago

Real estate can be hyper local, and popular neighborhoods can speak to the culture, community, and proximity that renters are seeking.

The most popular neighborhoods in Chicago for apartment renters are:

  1. Lincoln Park
  2. Lakeview
  3. West Loop
  4. Hyde Park
  5. Downtown Chicago

In looking at the high rises under construction, we see that each of these neighborhoods will have at least one new skyscraper that includes new apartment units.

Beyond Checkboxes: Top 5 Renter Keyword Searches

Because homes can be individualized spaces, many prospective renters are going beyond available filters to do keyword searches on the specific things they're seeking.

In Chicago, the top five apartment keyword searches are:

  1. Balcony/Patio
  2. Garage
  3. Available
  4. Hardwood Floors
  5. Loft

Open loft-style spaces continue to remain popular. However, renters are also seeking the outdoor space of a balcony, vehicle parking in a garage, and the coziness of a fireplace to get through the cold winter. Unlike other markets we’ve looked at, Chicago renters are seeking a doorman in their apartment building, which can add to a renter’s concierge support and building security.

For more local real estate insight, take a look at CoStar Market Analytics, our rental analytics tool that can help you make fast, accurate decisions about managing your property and setting your rents competitively.

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