Tampa Bay area sees sharp increase in rent costs

If you’re looking for an apartment in the Tampa area and you're on a budget, you may be forced to rework the numbers.

Rent may be a lot higher than you think.

In the last year, rents in the Tampa Bay area have increased almost 7% -- one of the biggest hikes in the entire country.

Surrounding areas are seeing increases as well. In St. Pete, rents are generally 5.5% higher than last year.

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Westchase has the most notable increase. Rents there are, on average, up about 12.5%.

One of the biggest reasons for the sizable increases is that people are moving here from more expensive cities like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

For many of them, the rents here -- even at their current levels -- are a steal.

The lure of a decent job, great weather, and an enviable quality of life are other factors that are bringing people to the Tampa Bay area from all over the country.

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Last year, the metro Tampa area welcomed 47,000 newcomers.

With the influx of new residents, apartments are at a premium, and landlords can charge a premium price.

Since the market is so hot right now, many apartment complexes don’t have to offer incentives, such as a free month’s rent or gift certificates, like they once did.