In a recent survey of users, more than 10,000 apartment seekers shared how their apartment preferences have changed over the past year, their main concerns while moving, and the effects of the pandemic on their selection process. As a whole, the responses paint a picture of how apartment search preferences and reasons for moving have changed over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic—particularly when compared with a similar survey conducted in March 2020.

In the 2021 survey, lifestyle features were a priority for potential renters. Twenty-one percent of respondents cited open-air amenities as their top rental preference, followed by 20% looking for more space in their units. By contrast, in 2020, price was considered the top renter preference and safety the top renter concern.

When asked about reasons for moving, 29% of 2021 respondents cited the opportunity to get a better deal, while a quarter of respondents were motivated by a need for a change of scenery. The vast majority—90%—were looking for long-term leases, and 48% were looking in the same city where they already lived. Back in spring 2020, the most commonly cited reasons for moving were related to lease expiration or financial insecurity.

Only 4% of renters in the recent survey chose to move because of work-from-home arrangements. In addition, 10% chose a good internet connection as a priority, and 5% reported needing a home office.

In March 2020, 18% of respondents had safety concerns about moving in a pandemic—compared with only half that number one year later. One third of respondents looking to move right away had already moved during the past 12 months, most of them for a pandemic-related reason.

Thirty-three percent reported postponing earlier moving plans during the pandemic, leaving 67% determined to move regardless of the COVID-19 situation. RENTCafe reported a similar attitude in the March 2020 survey, when 60% of respondents said they had no intention of postponing their move.

Read the full survey here.