March rent report: Most N.J. cities saw rent increases even with start of COVID-19 pandemic

Most cities throughout New Jersey saw rents increase in March, even with the start of a worldwide economic slowdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to RentCafe’s New Jersey Rent Report.

The national average rent in March was $1,474, a 2.9% increase from the same period last year, but slower than February’s increase of 3.2%.

The study found 60% of the nation’s cities experienced a slowdown over the month, with Newark and Elizabeth among them.

Apartments in Newark, the state’s largest city, rented for $1,212 on average in March, an increase of 2.3% or $27 year-over-year and a decrease of 0.5% or $6 compared to February.

The state’s largest cities generally have higher rents than the national average.

The fastest-growing rents this month were in Paterson, where apartment prices shot up by 9.7% since last year, or $118. Camden came in second, jumping by 8.7% over the year to $1,023. Following that came Long Branch, up 7.2% to $2,037.

In Harrison, apartment prices decreased the most by 2.1% to $2,151 compared to last March, followed by Highland Park’s downtick of 1.8% to $1,568 and Springfield’s loss of 1.4% to $2.285.

Hoboken is the most expensive city to rent in New Jersey with an average of $3,587, followed by Edgewater at $3,250 and Weehawken at $3,094.

On the other end, Lindenwold has the most affordable rents, averaging $995. Coming in second-cheapest was Irvington at $1,008, followed by Camden ($1,023).

Here are more notables:

  • Paterson had the fastest yearly surge (9.7%);
  • Harrison had the lowest drop in rental rates (-2.1%);
  • Jersey City was in the Top 5 most expensive small cities for renters nationwide, with an average rent of $2,989 after a 2.5% annual increase.