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Rentals On The Rise In Chicago’s Corporate Relocation Market

Friday, December 21st, 2018

While some may call Chicago by its specious Second City moniker, we know it’s the best city in the world. But, don’t just take our word for it. Adding another feather to the city’s cap, Site Selection Magazine named Chicago the top metropolitan area for corporate relocation in 2018. With a high-tech workforce, world-class museums, winning sports teams and foodie-favored restaurants, all situated around the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan…what company wouldn’t want to relocate here?

The city added on average 15,000 jobs per year from 2013-2017, with the largest expansion of nearly 20,000 new jobs in 2017 alone. And, 2018 is looking just as promising.

As employees evaluate a corporate relocation, housing is generally their number one issue. While the most common (and expensive) form of housing relocation assistance is with a home purchase, an often-overlooked need is employee rental assistance. According to a recent article from the Human Resources Certification Institute, skipping rental support is one of three common mistakes made in designing relocation packages. As we discussed in the article, leasing often better suits an employee’s needs and budget, but finding the right apartment home requires more than a quick internet search, especially in a city with the size and diversity of Chicago.

In an effort to streamline their relocation services, companies all too often work with just one brokerage firm – typically a full-service firm that says its agents can help with all housing needs, including for-sale and rental. Most brokerages specialize in either for-sale listings or rental listings, but not both – especially in Chicago which is known for its 77 distinct neighborhoods and more than 100 suburbs. So, what inevitably happens is that an employee who wants to rent an apartment in the city is paired with an agent well-versed in the for-sale market. Without the in-depth knowledge of the hundreds of rental buildings in Chicago’s city center, the agent may never quite get it right and the employee is frustrated and confused.

Engaging the help of a professional who specializes in apartment leasing and has hyperlocal neighborhood knowledge, as well as insight into rental concessions and rate fluctuations, will ensure the employee finds the right home and has a positive relocation experience, enhancing the employee’s overall satisfaction with the new job assignment.

Below are a few additional scenarios to consider when determining the best housing option in a corporate relocation:

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

While previous generations bought homes early and stayed in them for a long time, that is not the case today. Many people who would have moved to the suburbs in previous generations are moving to the suburbs at a slower rate, which means many are downtown renters-by-choice for a much longer time period. Many are trading in the suburban home for a maintenance-free rental penthouse or town home in the city. In short, housing needs are incredibly varied and available options are equally diverse.

Now Renting, Luxury 3 bedroom penthouse in Streeterville

Short-term Assignments

Many companies are leveraging short-term and temporary assignments as a cost-effective way to balance talent development and the employee experience with the company’s workforce needs. Employees relocating for a short-term assignment will benefit from leasing and often need help finding the right rental community to meet their needs.

Tax Implications

A change in the tax code in 2018 means relocation expenses paid by employers are now taxable, so there is an additional incentive for both employers and employees to forgo big real estate expenditures in a move.


Most employers recognize that working ‘wherever and whenever’ is a growing trend among mobile employees who crave flexibility. Those employees often gravitate toward renting, rather than buying, because they want the flexibility afforded by leasing. Chicago’s newest rental buildings are also known for their high-speed internet, co-working areas and tricked-out business centers, which make connectivity with the home office easier and more enjoyable than ever before. Again, engaging them with a professional to conduct a customized apartment search will yield far better results in finding a home that meets their specific needs.

Ensuring a smooth transition for the relocating candidate is critical to the overall success of the relocation. Engaging the help of a professional leasing service like Downtown Apartment Company is a smart move to guarantee an improved experience for all.

If you need help with a corporate relocation, contact us! We would be happy to talk about our full suite of services, including suggestions for vetted moving, cleaning and furniture rental companies.