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Forget Millennials, 2.5 million Baby-Boomers Joined Renter Economy Amid Financial Squeeze

According to a new analysis by apartment search engine RENTCafé, the rental market is headed in a new direction and it is steered by none other than senior renting households. The study found that the largest increases in renter population in recent years came from the age group 55 and over, and the jump is quite significant.

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Between 2009 and 2015, 2.5 million senior households became renters versus only 0.5 million households aged 34 and under, while renting households aged 35-54 years old increased by 2.0 million. The percentage increase in older renters is also significantly higher than the other age groups. Over the time period analyzed, the U.S. rental market gained 28% more renters aged 55 and over, 14% more renters in the age group 35-54, and only 3% more renters 34 or younger.

The RENTCafé study also looked at changes in renters from 2 other vantage points: education and family type, and found that the sharpest increases were in highly-educated renters and families with no minor children. 23% more people with a bachelor degree or higher turned to renting from 2009 to 2015, 17% more renters with some college education, and only 1% more renters with a high-school diploma or less. By family type, renting households with no minor children registered the highest increase, 21%, renting families with kids were up 14%, and non-family renting households (singles) were up by a less impressive 10%.

Highly-educated seniors with no minor children present in the household are none else than empty-nest Baby Boomers, the new faces of renting in the post-recession era, increasingly choosing to rent over buying. Either motivated by financial constraints in the aftermath of the economic recession, difficulty in finding an affordable home to downsize, or making a sensible change towards a new, more flexible, lower-maintenance, and less-costly lifestyle, aging Baby-Boomers are without a doubt a growing segment of renters in the U.S.

The shifts are even more obvious in suburban rental markets when compared to urban areas. Older renters increased by as much as 39% in the suburbs versus 21% in cities, renters holding a bachelor degree or higher grew by 26% in the suburbs and by 20% in cities, and renting families with no children grew by 33% in the suburbs and by only 16% in cities. After spending a big chunk of their life in the suburbs, owning a home and raising a family, Baby-Boomers remain loyal to the suburban lifestyle, only that some of them are switching to renting.

Changes in renter profile suburban vs urban:

renting households
Renter categories that showed the weakest overall increases since 2009 were renters aged 34 and under, who were up by only 3%, renters with a high-school diploma or less, who were up by only 1%, and single people (non-family households) who increased by 10%.