Tauranga's accommodation woes have spread into the regions, where rental prices have shot up more than 20 per cent in the past year.
Price hikes have seen the cost of renting in Tauranga's outer suburbs close to within $40 of a city property.
TradeMe rental figures show the median cost of renting a property in the Western Bay of Plenty has jumped to $410, which is $70 more than at the same time last year.
Rental prices in Tauranga city increased $25 over the last year to $450 last month.
Tauranga Rentals' Dan Lusby said there was a lot of interest in properties in the Western Bay, where more were available at a lower price than in Tauranga city.
"If you look at Omokoroa, a lot of people are putting second dwellings on their lifestyle properties. People like to live in the country because rents are quite expensive in town now. They are sort of being attracted out that way because of the lower rents. And when you think about it, an extra 10 or 20-minute drive is worth it."
Mr Lusby said his files showed the average rent for a three-bedroom house in the Kaimai or Te Puke area was $335 in January 2016 compared to $380 last month. In the Omokoroa and Katikati area, the average rent had increased from $332 to $360 over the same period.
Mr Lusby said he did not see the increasing rents slowing down anytime soon.
"It seems to be our new normal. Eighteen months ago, it was probably a surprise and shock, but it's almost expected now."
Mr Lusby said there was not much renters could do about it.
The principal of Prime Rentals, Steve Warburton, said the average price in Tauranga had gone up about $100 a week in the last 18 months.
His agents rented out a three-bedroom house in Maungatapu 18 months ago for $350 and had recently re-leased it for $485. A three-bedroom home rented out for $300 a week 18 months ago recently went for $420.
Mr Warburton said the number of properties available in the Western Bay was limited. Most people still preferred to live closer to town, although one- or two-bedroom properties in Te Puna were being snapped up for $400 a week.
Property investor Lindsay Richards said he was seeing a huge demand for rentals.
He said property prices had gone up and investors needed to make a return on their investment by hiking rents. Demand was also contributing.
Rental properties in Te Puke had risen with the completion of the Tauranga Eastern Link and the resurgence of the kiwifruit industry, he said.
Rents there had risen 20 to 30 per cent in the past year, he said.
The struggle to find a place to call home
A former Tauranga man planning to move back to Mount Maunganui after a year away says the difference in the local rental market is immense.
Matt Smith is looking for a room in an established flat at the Mount for when he returns home from living in Hastings.
"The biggest thing is the lack of availability," he said.
"When I was looking two years ago, there were heaps of places to choose from. I've done a whole day travelling up from Hastings to Tauranga and only looked at two flats, and instead of paying $145 like I was, it's now $180 for a room."
Mr Smith, an importer, said he was moving for work but was struggling to find anything within his budget.
"There are rooms for $250 a week but who wants to pay that? I'm finding it much more of a challenge than when I was in Tauranga last. You could look at six different flats and choose which is best, but now there's, like, 10 people all looking at the same room."