Some renters are leaving the Bay to escape rising rental prices.
Rents rose across both the Tauranga and Western Bay districts over the past year, according to the Trade Me Property Rental Index for December.
Western Bay rents were up 13.2 per cent year on year, while Tauranga rents rose 2.2 per cent.
In the Western Bay, the median cost of a one- or two-bedroom rental was sitting at $340, up $40 in the year to December - an extra $2080 a year.
The cost of a three- or four-bedroom house rose $35 to $465 - an extra $1820 a year.
The increases in Tauranga were less steep. A one- or two-bedroom rented for a median of $380, up from $360, and a three- or four-bedroom for $500, up from $480 - each representing an extra $520 a year.
Logan Walden said he stuck it out in Tauranga for four months after leaving home but struggled to find any rentals in his budget of $150 per week.
He increased his budget to $220 but said that left him little to live on. In November, he moved to Dunedin and says he has no regrets.
The pay was better for the same work in the retail industry and the properties more affordable.
"I would never buy a house in Tauranga because the pay rates do not reflect the affordability to buy a house," he said.
Otumoetai resident of 25 years Judith Roberts said she was planning a move to New Plymouth because Tauranga had become too expensive.
"We started at $365 a week, we are now on $420 a week, and it will rise again this year. We are looking at a smaller, safer area. Its a shame really because it was a lovely place back in the day."
Dan Lusby, of Tauranga Rentals, said most of the increases would have happened in the first six months of last year and since then prices had flattened out as supply was able to meet demand.
In the first few weeks of 2018, however, demand had started to pick up again, and he predicted prices would return to rising as a result.
It was no surprise smaller properties were attracting higher prices as around half of New Zealand's population lived in one or two-person households, he said.
"There's not as many of them [one- and two-bedroom houses], so that pushes the price up."
He said the market decided what tenants would pay.
"You can put the rent up but if the market won't let you it's not going to happen."
Realty Group chief executive Simon Anderson said rising rental prices in the Western Bay were likely tied to the higher sale prices properties in the area had been attracting this year. Landlords would be looking for better returns on their investment.
Tauranga had a general shortage of rental properties, he said.
"That has been consistent for some time now."
He said the city was particularly short on quality rental properties and executive homes available for short and medium terms.
Head of Trade Me Property Nigel Jeffries said every region's median weekly rent was up year on year in December except Taranaki and the West Coast, which remained unchanged.
Nationwide, the median weekly rent for small houses reached a new high in December,
rising 8.6 per cent year on year to $380 per week.
Median rental prices December 2017
Tauranga: $460, up 2.2 per cent year-on-year
1-2 bedroom: $380, up 5.6 per cent
3-4 bedroom: $500, up 4.2 per cent
Western Bay: $450, up 13.2 per cent
1-2 bedroom: $340, up 13.3 per cent
3-4 bedroom: $465, up 8.1 per cent
Source: Trade Me Property Rental Index
House buying decision on hold
Neil Maidment and his fiance, Lisa Porhel, are renting a two-bedroom home in Mount Maunganui for $350 per week - less than the Tauranga average of $380.
"We were pretty lucky," Maidment said. Most properties they looked at were around $420 to $450 per week for a two-bedroom home.
Maidment said renting in Mount Maunganui was more expensive than Tauranga rentals.
The prospect of buying a home had been put on hold while Maidment decided if he wanted to live here long term.
"I have never owned a home in New Zealand. We haven't looked at prices yet because we are not sure if we are going to be around here for a long period of time," he said.
The 37-year-old said buying a home in Mount Maunganui seemed expensive. However, it was good value.
"It would be expensive compared to out of town ... but of course it is because it is such a beautiful place to be," he said. "The lifestyle is really nice."
- Additional reporting Zoe Hunter