(NEXSTAR) – It’s hard to sum up a year in just a word, but for many around the country, 2022 was simply: expensive.

Inflation and the bounce back from COVID-19 sent the cost of housing through the roof. Nationwide, rent went up about 14% from 2021 to 2022, according to a Credit Karma study.

In some states, like Florida, the cost of rent jumped more than 22%, Credit Karma found. Tennessee, South Dakota, New York and North Carolina weren’t far behind. In Knoxville, the rental occupancy rate soared to 98.6% and many renters are being pushed out of the city.

A study published by RentCafe Monday zooms in even further, looking at which rental markets are most “competitive,” meaning they have lots of prospective renters competing for relatively few vacant apartments or homes. Competition typically drives prices even higher.

Knoxville ranks #8 on RentCafe’s list of Hottest Small Rental Markets for 2022. Data shows an apartment in city limits was vacant for an average of 24 days, and each apartment had an average of 26 applicants. Nearly 69% of renters renewed their lease this year in Knoxville, according to RentCafe.

Ahead of Knoxville on the Hottest Small Rental Markets list are:

  1. Fayetteville, Arkansas
  2. Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania
  3. Lafayette, Indiana
  4. Asheville, North Carolina
  5. Madison, Wisconsin
  6. Tulsa, Oklahoma
  7. Providence, Rhode Island

Also on the list? Chattanooga ranks as #14.

Below are the 20 most “competitive” larger rental markets, according to RentCafe. Each market’s score was determined by combining five metrics: average number of days an apartment sits vacant, the percentage of apartments that are occupied, the number of prospective renters, lease renewal rate and the share of new apartments.

RankMarketScoreAvg. vacant daysOccupied apartments
1Miami-Dade County, FL118.02597.5%
2Grand Rapids, MI112.62896.9%
3Orlando, FL109.32896.8%
4Harrisburg, PA108.73396.5%
5North Jersey, NJ107.53297.2%
6Milwaukee, WI102.62996.4%
7Central Jersey, NJ96.84196.8%
8Orange County, CA96.33197.2%
9Rochester, NY96.13596.2%
10Omaha, NE96.12596.7%
11Southwest Florida93.43196.1%
12Suburban Philadelphia, PA89.53895.8%
13San Diego, CA82.62997.1%
14Broward County, FL82.23496.1%
15Richmond-Tidewater, VA81.32895.8%
16Pittsburgh, PA81.23395.9%
17Tampa, FL80.53295.5%
18Suburban Chicago, IL79.33495.5%
19Bridgeport – New Haven, CT77.73396.2%
20Lansing – Ann Arbor, MI77.33195.5%

Several Midwest cities rank among the most competitive markets, from Grand Rapids to Milwaukee and Omaha. The Northeast is also well represented with areas in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut ranked. Plus, it’s always expensive out in California, and two of the state’s metro areas are included in the list.

What 2023 has in store for renters is yet to be seen, but experts are signaling hope. Fed Chair Jerome Powell, in a speech last week, pointed to the decline in goods prices as an encouraging sign. Powell suggested that housing costs, including rent, which have been a major driver of inflation, should also start to slow next year.

Wholesale prices in the United States rose 7.4% in November from a year earlier, a fifth straight slowdown and a hopeful sign that inflation pressures across the economy are continuing to cool.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.