FT. MYERS, Fla. — If you can find a place to rent in Ft. Myers for under $2,000 — consider yourself lucky. A new FGCU study says Ft. Myers has the second most overpriced rental prices in the U.S. The average rent price is $2,052 a month. That's 18-percent more than what you should be paying, based on the long-term leasing trend for the area.
Daniell Green moved to Florida from Wisconsin in 2018 and has felt the effects of the price hike over the years.
"It was just spur of the moment, I'm going to do it," Green said.
She found an apartment in Ft. Myers for $1,350 with her fiance and two dogs. The rent met their budget, until a year later when it rose to $1,450.
"That was the start of the struggle," Green said.
In 2021, it soared to $1,700.
"So that was it. That crossed the line there for us," Green said.
It's a line other people are also crossing as more people flock to the Sunshine State.
"We’ve really had a significant surge in growth over the last couple of years and frankly the market has not been able to keep pace with that by adding inventory," said Dr. Shelton Weeks, a real estate professor at FGCU. "The way that the state of Florida handled COVID with respect to businesses as well as the different mandates, that definitively prompted a lot of folks to move to Florida."
Weeks is an author of the study and says historically, we should see rental prices around $1,700 to $1,800 right now.
"It’s forcing folks to have to make some very hard decisions," he said.
A decision Green didn't want to make.
"My dream was to start fresh, be on my own and not have to rely on my family anymore ," she said.
Green and her family moved back to Wisconsin with her family's help. They're in a two-bedroom home paying $1,000. It's cheaper and they have more space for the expecting mother.
"If we didn’t have the support system that we have, we would probably be homeless," she said. "I do miss the beach. I miss the sunshine."
There is no one size fits all solution to the housing crisis. Weeks says one idea would help significantly: Make it easier for developers to build.
"To come in and add supply, to grant them additional density to incentivise them," he said. "We live in a wonderful place that has significant growth opportunities. We’ll get through this and it’ll just take a little bit of time."