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Stan Lim / The Press-Enterprise/SCNG

CA - Untethered From the Office, Urban Tenants Are Flocking to the Inland Empire

Rents are up 4-6% in Riverside and San Bernardino counties, but have been falling in L.A. and Orange counties since the pandemic hit.

Prophetess Branchcomb called her home office “my piece of paradise” before the coronavirus pandemic hit. But after shelter-in-place orders forced her husband and kids to study and work from home, their 2,000-square-foot rental house in Cerritos felt more like a tiny box.

“Everyone else came home and took my piece of paradise,” said Branchcomb, finance director for a Hollywood entertainment company. “We needed more space.”

On Saturday, Nov. 21, Branchcomb and her family of five moved to a house that’s twice as big and rents for just $150 more per month. But to find that deal, the Branchcombs had to cross county lines and move 40 miles east to Riverside. A similar-sized house rents for at least $1,000 more in Cerritos.

The Branchcombs are part of an apparent tenant migration to the Inland Empire in the aftermath of a pandemic that robbed L.A. and Orange County residents of urban amenities like restaurants, bars and museums and frees them from the need to commute to an office.

Numbers from four leading apartment trackers show rents have been dropping for Los Angeles and Orange County apartments since the pandemic hit, but are rising in the Inland Empire.

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