If you’re renting in Chicago, expect some tough going. Because there isn’t a whole lot to choose from in the city.

These days, 500-foot studios are being rented for as much as $1,500. One-bedroom apartments go for up to $2,000 and two-bedrooms can cost up to $3,500. And that’s not for anything particularly fancy.

Sound like New York prices? One reason that costs are going up is that the supply of rental units is dwindling. Many large apartment buildings have been converted successfully to condominiums. Many two-flats, three-flats, and six-flats are also being converted to condos.

With these apartments out of the line-up and almost no new rental housing being built, the supply of rental units is tightening up.

This week, I called a dozen buildings to gauge how tight the market is. The average vacancy rate was 1 percent. Many buildings have nothing currently available for rent. Many are taking names for July, August, and September leases.

With prices rising, is renting still a good idea? It can be. You should rent if you don’t know where you want to live, are expecting a job transfer or job change in the near future, or if you carry too much debt to get qualified for a home loan.

If you’re looking for apartments to rent, try these places:

  1. Local newspapers like the Chicago Tribune and The Reader carry apartments-for-rent advertising.

  2. Web sites such as www.apartments.com, www.rent.net, and www.aptsforrent.com.

Published: Apr 25, 2000