TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y.—Have you heard? Rents in Tompkins County are quite high. And, apparently, trending upwards, though you may have known that too.

A recent study conducted by the Washington Post shows that rent prices in Tompkins County have risen 12.3% since the beginning of 2020 for multi-family rentals. That figure is the fourth highest among New York counties, only behind Suffolk, Ontario and Saratoga Counties. Local rents have come under even more scrutiny in 2022 as tenants push back against evictions as the statewide eviction moratorium closed this year.

Average rent, according to the Post’s study, is $1,702 locally. That ranks 108th among counties in the United States, just behind Denver County in Colorado, which is about 7 times larger than Tompkins County. That’s in the highest 10 percent in the country in terms of county-wide rents.

Predictably, all counties near Tompkins County have rising rent prices, but they aren’t rising at the rate of Tompkins County’s. The Post lists Cortland County and Seneca County with an 8.1% and 6.4% rises respectively, while the others nearby have risen less than 5% since the pandemic began.

Luckily, Tompkins County does not land among the highest rates of increase nationwide during the pandemic. Fourteen counties have seen their rents rise 22% since early 2020, the highest percentage increase in that time period found by the study.

As mentioned above, the numbers don’t necessarily come as a huge surprise, though seeing how closely they compare to other, more populous places around New York and the country is a stark reminder of the brutal rental market locally, despite myriad efforts to increase the housing stock and alleviate rent burdens.

Compared to metro areas, which are also listed in the study, Tompkins County rents are now near the level of Trenton, N.J. (which also has an Ivy League school whose study body applies upwards pressure on the rental market in Princeton University), Vallejo and San Bernardino in California, and more expensive monthly rents on average than Sacramento, California or Tampa Bay, Florida.

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is the Managing Editor at the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at