There's a good reason why New Orleans is one of the top tourist destinations in the U.S. despite being just the nation's 50th largest city. But the Big Easy isn't just a travel stop for great food and drink, it's one of America's best places to live, ranking number three on both Travel+Leisure's list of “Best Cities in North America" and Condé Nast Traveler's “Best Cities in the U.S."
But what is it like to live in New Orleans, economically? It's been nearly 15 years since Hurricane Katrina, and the city has come back to close to a full recovery, from reconstruction to economy to population levels. As the Crescent City experiences yet another rebirth, demand for rental housing has been on the rise, and with it, lease pricing in some neighborhoods.
The good news is even the top neighborhoods in New Orleans that have seen the largest increases in rental prices since this time last year have stayed relatively flat. So, what New Orleans neighborhoods have experienced the steepest rise in rent over the last 12 months?
We compared the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in every New Orleans neighborhood on Apartment Guide to prices in those same spots a year ago. From this, we determined the five NOLA neighborhoods where rent has increased the most year to year.
While the French Quarter gets all the tourists, the Central Business District gets all the offices and the Garden District proper gets all the press, the Lower Garden District, situated south of the Crescent City Connection bridge along the Mississippi, may be the best of all worlds.
The beautiful neighborhood is mostly residential with a number of notable homes and historic sites. While the district has a small population of just around 6,500, the Lower Garden District offers a large number of favored restaurants and bars interspersed among homes and multi-family dwellings, particularly along St. Charles and Magazine Street.
And the neighborhood's spot along the Mississippi River features the lower end of the Port of New Orleans with its commercial shipping zone and cruise ship embankments, as well as the famous 400,000-square-foot Mardi Gras World complex, where the giant floats are constructed and housed.
It's a sign of consistent year-to-year rental pricing in New Orleans that the fifth-steepest rise in the city is just 1.34 percent. An average one-bedroom apartment in the Lower Garden District comes it at $1,493 a month.
Fun Fact: The Lower Garden District's St. Alphonsus Art and Cultural Center is on the site of the former St. Alphonsus Church, a National Historic Landmark with one of the few multi-colored church interiors in the nation dating from before the 1870s.
Occupying much of the southern base of the West Bank Algiers district, Tall Timbers/Brechtel is a largely residential neighborhood, home to families and young professionals, with an urban feel, where a majority of inhabitants are renters.
At the center of the neighborhood, literally and figuratively, is the large 120-acre Brechtel Park, a major site for birders and a stop on the Barataria Loop of America's Wetlands Birding Trail.
Adjacent to the park is the 7,002-yard, par 72 Lakewood Golf Club. The west side of the neighborhood features large lots of middle-class single-family homes, with a number of apartment complexes closer to the middle of the district. The east end along the Intracoastal Waterway contains more single-family homes, but with more of a planned community tract feel, with several more apartment complexes along the waterfront.
The neighborhood features a number of commercial pockets, mostly centered along General De Gaulle Drive at the northern border and down Behrman Place aside the park, including a shopping center anchored by the neighborhood Walmart.
The urban/suburban separation of this West Bank subdivision keeps rental prices in Tall Trees/Brechtel at the lower end, at just $712 monthly on average for a one-bedroom unit. But that does represent a slight two percent increase from last year.
Fun Fact: The Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation & Tourism lists more than 40 species of birds inhabiting Tall Timbers/Brechtel's Brechtel Park.
Featuring districts like Aurora, McDonogh, Fischer, Behrman, Algiers Point and the aforementioned Tall Timbers/Brechtel, the large neighborhood of Algiers dominates the West Bank of New Orleans. Also known as the 15th Ward, Algiers is the only region of Orleans Parish west of the Mississippi River.
The historic neighborhood was named for the city in Africa, separated from France by the Mediterranean, as this American Algiers is separated from the French Quarter by the River.
Similarly, the neighborhood is nicknamed "Brooklyn of the South," a unique locale separated from the New Orleans East Bank by the Mississippi much as Brooklyn is separated from Manhattan by the East River.
As one of the densest populations of African-Americans in Louisiana in the 1920s, music thrived in Algiers and is considered the birthplace of jazz. Several notable early jazz greats hailed from Algiers, including Red Allen, Jimmy Palao, Emmett Hardy, Kid Thomas and Frogman Henry.
Today, the large district is primarily residential, with a mix of plotted homes, single-family rental units and apartment complexes, despite lying just across the river from the French Quarter and the Central Business District.
The focal point of the West Bank region is Algiers Point, a major navigation point along the Mississippi directly across from the Quarter. While the neighborhood predates the city of New Orleans itself, most of the historical housing in Algiers Point dates back to reconstruction after the devastating fire of 1895.
A large concentration of Algiers' restaurants, cafes, bars and retail shops lie within the Point, while Whitney, adjacent along the south shore, features the Algiers Folk Art Zone & Blues Museum and Federal City houses several U.S. Naval, Marine and Coast Guard facilities among the residential blocks.
While Algiers has historically been largely a low-income neighborhood, revitalization and renovation have started to change the face of much of the district. While rents remain relatively low at just an average of $712 a month for a one-bedroom apartment, that figure represents an increase from a year ago of nearly five percent.
Fun Fact: The Canal Street Ferry, which runs from near the Audubon Aquarium in the Quarter to Algiers Point, was the primary plot setting in the 2006 Denzel Washington film “Déjà Vu." In the movie, the ferry was the site of a terrorist attack which was shot on location.
Separated from the rest of New Orleans by the Industrial Canal, New Orleans East, the neighborhood across the waterway from Gentilly and the University of New Orleans, is an island of its own — literally.
The large New Orleans East neighborhood is an island isthmus splitting Lake Ponchartrain from the bayous and sounds at the edge of the Gulf of Mexico. While the eastern half of the district is mostly undeveloped swamp, marshland and the Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge (the largest urban wildlife refuge in the nation), the western component is homey, suburban-style sprawl.
Quite similar to Eastern Long Island, New Orleans East, or “The East," features long stretches of blocks and blocks of single-family homes and garden apartments and multi-unit complexes, bisected by Interstate 10 as it fades out into wetlands.
Along the borders and spines of the neighborhood are several suburbia-level retail and commercial corridors, like Chef Menteur Parkway and Hayne Boulevard, along the lake running east/west and the perpendicular avenues of Crowder Boulevard, Read Boulevard and Bullard Avenue.
Because of its vulnerable intra-water geography and low-lying terrain, The East was hit particularly hard by Hurricane Katrina. Most of the region flooded from storm surge and failed levees, and many structures were destroyed and never reopened, including the Six Flags amusement park and Lake Forest Plaza, the largest mall in the state.
But since 2005, the area has slowly recovered. Stores and businesses reopened and national chains recently re-entered the neighborhood, and the population level has inched closer to pre-Katrina levels, now more affluent and in search of new housing.
This unplanned revitalization of New Orleans East has put pressure on housing in the neighborhood, with demand for affordable units on the rise. While a one-bedroom rental can be had for a low $706 a month on average, a sizable seven-and-a-half percent increase from 12 months ago, the elevation shows no sign of slowing.
Fun Fact: In February 2017, a powerful EF3 tornado touched down in New Orleans East with winds that reached 150 mph, making it the strongest tornado to hit New Orleans in recorded history. The event lasted for 20 minutes over 10 miles, and caused $2.7 million in damage but, luckily, no fatalities.
The name legendary, the imagery iconic. Rue Bourbon and Toulouse Street. Jackson Square and the French Market. Broussard's and Brennan's. Pat O'Brien's and Erin Rose. Preservation Hall and dueling pianos. Hurricanes and frozen Irish coffees. Muffalettas and beignets. Cajun and creole. Seventy-eight square blocks of history and good times. For many, it's laissez les bons temps rouler year-'round in the French Quarter.
As popular as the Quarter may be, it's actually growing in demand. One doesn't necessarily think about the Quarter as a full-time local destination, a place to live, but in fact, nearly 4,000 Quarterites do just that within those small two-thirds of a square mile.
But as New Orleans continues its march towards a full Katrina recovery and as the economy improves, more people are making the move into the Quarter than any time since before 2005. The result is more demand for rental housing, pushing rents up a whopping 17.25 percent in the last year for an average one-bedroom apartment, up to an imposing $2,012 monthly.
If you have the means and motivation to relocate into the French quarter, the benefits are endless. A short commute into the heart of the Central Business District, an easy walk to the great local (non-tourists) bars along Bourbon like MRB Bar or Voodoo Lounge or a quick bite at your favorite local po'boy spot. Not to mention the ability to stumble out your front door and right into a Fat Tuesday parade or second line celebration.
Fun Fact: The bars along Bourbon Street were the first commercial spaces in the nation to offer air conditioning, TVs and pressurized draft beer en masse. Both modern poker and craps were invented in the Quarter, as well.
We looked at all neighborhoods in New Orleans with sufficient available inventory on Apartment Guide and Rent.com and compared the average price from September 2018 to September 2019 to find the neighborhoods with the highest percentage increase in one-bedroom apartment prices.
The current rent information included in this article is based on September 2019 multifamily rental property inventory on Apartment Guide and Rent.com and is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.