The Best Places to Invest in 2022
CrowdStreet’s Top Real Estate Markets
CrowdStreet's Best Places to Invest report highlights our favorite markets for 2022. As we head into the new year, data suggests that we are in the early phase of a rapidly expanding growth cycle. Since different metros will respond & recover to the ever-evolving market conditions at different rates, we heavily weighted regional factors like population growth, the employment base, and more when determining our top 20 best places to invest in 2022.
Our favorite markets also exhibit subjective desirability or competitive advantage. Whether we label this as a metro’s “vibe” or “quality of life,” CrowdStreet’s 20 best places to invest possess a curated blend of multiple tangible and intangible attributes that coalesce to create attractive communities and opportunities for investors.
Acknowledging that the events of 2021 created unique drivers across different locations, our full report, which will be released in early January, also ranks our top markets by asset class, including multifamily, industrial, hospitality, and more.
Earning the nickname “Silicon Hills,” a reference to the growth of its tech sector and proximity to the Texas Hill Country, Austin is our top market for 2022. Austin continues to benefit from several years of strong population and job growth, thanks in part to corporate relocation and expansion by some of the nation’s largest companies, including Tesla, Oracle, and Google. With over 25 colleges and universities*, a high concentration of STEM majors, and relative affordability compared to other tech hubs, Austin has a strong long-term outlook.
*GreenStreet Austin Apartment Market Snapshot
Home to Research Triangle Park, over 550 life sciences companies are based in Raleigh-Durham, including industry leaders like Biogen and Bayer. Thanks to its proximity to three tier-1 research universities, Raleigh-Durham continues to attract top life sciences companies, driving job and population growth, a trend that has only accelerated under the pandemic.
Over the last decade, Nashville saw a population increase of 21% and is projected to expand by an additional 500,000 people between now and 2039. Recently named the top large U.S. metro for economic growth in 2021, relocation and expansions from companies like Oracle and Amazon are creating thousands of jobs in the area. Were it not for greater upcoming supply relative to Austin and Raleigh-Durham, Nashville might have topped our list for 2022.
After ranking 18th overall on our 2021 report, Orlando makes the dramatic jump to #4 in 2022. Orlando has already seen an over 200% increase1 in visitors since the beginning of the pandemic. In 2022, travel is anticipated to generate nearly $2 trillion of the U.S. economy and Orlando is well-positioned to earn a substantial portion of that. And while its tourism industry is providing a strong macroeconomic driver for the city, it’s Orlando’s multifamily market that has us most enamored for 2022. After being caught with excess supply heading into the pandemic, Orlando multifamily has come roaring back in 2021 with 23.1% annual rent growth2 and absorption that has outpaced supply.
Seattle has moved up nine spots from #14 in 2021 to round out our top five nationwide markets in 2022. This area’s highly educated talent pool and above-average population growth continue to attract top employers. Amazon continues to be a significant driver of growth in the area, recently announcing the addition of 25,000 jobs over the next five years. Increasingly land constrained, this market has already experienced over 10% rent growth in its multifamily sector and we expect to continue to see meaningful rent growth and higher property values in 2022 across several sectors including multifamily, retail, and industrial.
Home to sixteen Fortune 500 companies, Atlanta’s sector diversification has been a source of strength for the area’s economy during the pandemic. With the highest quarterly absorption in office space since the start of the pandemic and asking rents surpassing their pre-pandemic peak, JLL* reports that Atlanta is set to turn the corner of the pandemic-induced downturn. It’s Atlanta’s current vacancy rate that keeps it out of our top five office markets for 2022, but it would still rank within our top ten. As the market continues to see record increases3 in home prices and in-migration, we anticipate strong opportunities for investors in both the multifamily and Build-to-Rent sectors in 2022.
*JLL Atlanta Office Insight Report | Q4 2021
Up nine spots from 2021, Miami was named the #1 U.S. metro for migration by Redfin. But it’s not just people that are moving to Miami: finance and tech executives are bringing their businesses to the area, as well. Many Silicon Valley businesses have been drawn to Miami thanks to low tax rates and a business-friendly environment. The increased population growth paired with high-priced real estate has fueled demand for multifamily, with rent growth at some of the highest levels in the nation.
With employment growth and in-migration outpacing the majority of top U.S. markets, Dallas-Fort Worth is full of opportunities for investors in 2022. A recent report projects area home prices will increase by 21.1% over the next year, the 9th highest rate in the nation. With multifamily occupancy levels and rent growth already at pre-pandemic levels at the end of Q3 2021, demand is likely to continue its upward trajectory as home prices rise.
Strong across multiple asset classes, Boston-Cambridge is our perennial favorite market for life sciences, a sector where demand shows no signs of slowing. According to JLL4, about one-third of all therapies currently under development are happening in Boston, and demand for life sciences space exceeded demand for office space (a market five to six times larger) in the area for the first time.
Salt Lake City is one of the fastest recovering areas of the nation post-COVID-19, with low unemployment rates, consistent population growth, and a booming tech sector known as Silicon Slopes. According to the Linneman Letter Fall 2021 report, by July of 2021, Salt Lake City became the first U.S. metro to surpass its pre-COVID employment high, generating 11% more jobs than the 69,000 lost in 2020. Even with a record rate of multifamily properties under construction, vacancies are at the lowest levels in 20 years. In fact, the rates are far enough below 2%5 that economists are struggling to measure the rate. Rental rates saw an increase of 18% year over year from Oct. ‘20-’21 and as demand continues to outpace supply, it’s reasonable to expect continued rent and property growth.
At #11, San Diego is new to our Best Places report in 2022. Home to several biotech companies, the local life sciences industry benefits from STEM-focused universities that retain nearly half of their graduates. This port city has access points via air, land, and sea, making it a market uniquely positioned to take advantage of the e-commerce boom that is driving demand for warehouses and last-mile distribution centers.
The Tampa-St. Petersburg metro’s retail industry is outpacing the nation6 in COVID-19 recovery. Due in part to an older demographic, retail sales growth through ‘25 is expected to grow faster than the market average in this metro. Tampa-St. Petersburg has also seen retail rent growth for seven consecutive years, with average asking rent expected to reach a 15 year high* by the end of 2021.
*Marcus & Millichap Tampa-St. Petersburg Retail Market Report
Fort Lauderdale is a breakout metro this year, entering our Top 20 Markets nationwide for the first time. Companies, as well as consumers, are drawn to Fort Lauderdale thanks to the area’s proximity to Miami and its relative affordability to its internationally known neighbor. Companies are also keen to take advantage of the business-friendly environment. Home to the third busiest cruise port in the world, Port Everglades, we expect strong investment opportunities in the hotel sector as tourism resumes in 2022.
San Antonio makes its debut on our Top 20 Markets list this year at #14. A military presence and above-average population and retail sales growth have helped to spur outsized growth for the local economy in 2021. According to LaborIQ, San Antonio and Austin may be moving closer to merging into a single labor market, similar to Dallas-Fort Worth.
Long known as a banking powerhouse, this metro is becoming a magnet for corporate relocation, with four Fortune 1000 companies moving to the area in the last three years. Charlotte has seen a nearly 20%7 population increase over the last decade. Fueled by in-migration from out of state (especially from the Midwest and Northeast) and sustained economic improvement in the area, the Charlotte rental market is one of the fastest rising in the U.S., boasting a 12.1%* rent growth rate in the last year.
*NorthMarq Charlotte Multifamily Market Report 2Q 2021
The D.C. metro has grown 14.6%8 since 2010, almost double the national rate. With a nearly 5.5%* rent increase year over year and vacancy rates below 5%, the D.C. metro is one of our top markets for multifamily in 2022. One of the nation’s most stable lodging markets thanks to international and domestic tourism, the D.C. metro is also the second-largest office market in the nation with over 500 million square feet of office space. The metro boasts a diversified economic base, with strong and perpetual demand driven by the federal government.
*Marcus & Millichap Washington, D.C., Multifamily Market Report 3Q 2021
We’re pleased to welcome Charleston to our top 20 Markets for 2022. Bolstered by its diversity and cultural richness, Charleston’s economy remained resilient throughout the pandemic and is on the road to recovery. One of the fastest-growing cities in the U.S., Charleston’s population is expected to grow by 25% over the next 10 years. Not only is Charleston a top multifamily market for us, it is also our #1 ranked hospitality market for 2022.
The Inland Empire is the third-largest metropolitan area in California and it tied Phoenix in 2020 for the biggest gain9 in household migration in the U.S. The region has grown by 78% in the last thirty years, more than twice as fast as the rest of California during that same time period. Much of the in-migration is from California’s coastal residents, with folks looking for a more affordable alternative to Los Angeles and Orange Counties. One of the most prominent distribution hubs in the western U.S., (one of Amazon’s largest fulfillment centers is in the Inland Empire), the area’s economy is booming9 with e-commerce warehouses.
With San Francisco’s median home prices well over $1M, it’s no surprise that residents have a propensity to rent, driving demand in the multifamily sector. Median household income growth is an indicator of future rent growth and San Francisco ranks 2nd, only to San Jose, in median household income growth in 2021 at a robust 8.2%10. The life sciences market has also continued to expand in this region driven by the local intellectual capital amassed at Stanford University, UC Berkeley, and UCSF. According to a new report by JLL, San Francisco ranks second only to the greater Boston area, a region that has become synonymous with life sciences in recent years. And, according to a report from CBRE*, rent for life sciences space hit record highs in 2021, amid a lack of available space.
*CBRE U.S. Life Sciences Report Midyear 2021research-and-reports/US-Life-Sciences-Biotech-Revolution-Accelerates-in-the-COVID-19-Era-June-2021
Recently ranked the 7th best city to work in tech by SmartAsset, Denver is seeing high-income job growth and is projected to see economic growth above the national average through 2025. Overall population growth through 2025 is expected to double the national average and the area continues to see consistent millennial in-migration. With Denver’s multifamily vacancy rate at its lowest point since 2014 and an increase in demand, we expect strong investment opportunities in this sector in 2022.
- Bilbao, Richard. “Florida Welcomed More than 59 Million Visitors in the First Half of 2021.” Bizjournals.com, 20 Aug. 2021, https://www.bizjournals.com/orlando/news/2021/08/20/here-s-how-many-tourists-visited-florida-2021-q2.html.
- Fraser, Trevor. “After Skyrocketing in 2021, Orlando Rents Expected to Increase More Slowly in New Year.” Orlandosentinel.com, Orlando Sentinel, 4 Jan. 2022, https://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/real-estate/os-bz-orlando-rent-growth-outlook-2022-20220103-odndnujuhvaxzkrnu4m27vpxzy-story.html.
- JLL. “Atlanta Office Market Surges in Q3 - With More to Come, Says JLL Researcher.” Bizjournals.com, 28 Oct. 2021, https://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/news/2021/10/28/atlanta-office-market-surges-in-q3.html.
- JLL. “When It Comes to Life Sciences, Boston Is a City Unmatched, Says JLL Researcher.” Bizjournals.com, 1 Sept. 2021, https://www.bizjournals.com/boston/news/2021/09/01/when-it-comes-to-life-sciences-boston.html.
- Semerad, Tony. “Salt Lake City Apartments Keep Rising While Rents Show No Sign of Falling.” The Salt Lake Tribune, 8 Sept. 2021, https://www.sltrib.com/news/2021/09/06/salt-lake-city-apartments/.
- Berdychowski, Bernadette. “Tampa Bay Retailers Outpacing the Nation in COVID Recovery, Report Says.” Tampa Bay Times, Tampa Bay Times, 13 Nov. 2021, https://www.tampabay.com/news/business/2021/10/28/tampa-bay-retailers-outpacing-the-nation-in-covid-recovery-report-says/.
- Martin, Jenna. “New Census Figures Show Just How Much Charlotte Has Grown in Past Decade.” Bizjournals.com, 13 Aug. 2021, https://www.bizjournals.com/charlotte/news/2021/08/13/census-figures-for-charlotte.html.
- Flynn, Meagan. “D.C.'s Explosive Growth Continued over the Past Decade, Census Data Shows.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 29 July 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2021/04/26/dc-population-census-growth/.
- Mai-Duc, Christine, and Paul Overberg. “Californians Flee the Coast to Inland Cities in a Mass Pandemic-Era Exodus.” The Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones & Company, 21 Nov. 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/californians-flee-the-coast-to-inland-cities-in-a-mass-pandemic-era-exodus-11637521731.
- DePietro, Andrew. “20 Cities with the Biggest Growth in Income over the Last Decade.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 28 June 2021, https://www.forbes.com/sites/andrewdepietro/2021/04/29/20-cities-with-the-biggest-growth-in-income-over-the-last-decade/?sh=42df0dcf4233.