When you think of a baby boomer’s home, one might envision an older man or woman settling down in a spacious ranch or Craftsman. At least that’s the way it used to be. Things are changing.
Recent government statistics show that older Americans make up the fastest growing segment of apartment renters — and the trend is not slowing down. What used to be a lifestyle optimally suited for the young — millennials today — is increasingly attractive to boomers who are looking for a “hands-free” lifestyle without the headache of owning a home, according to a recent survey from housing site RentCafe.com, which culled numbers from the latest U.S. Census.
Older Americans choosing to sell their homes and rent apartments, study says
“Lowering living expenses, looking for a different lifestyle, less house-related work and overall less responsibility can be achieved by downsizing, so a lot of retirees opt to rent,” Simona Solomie, a real estate broker with Remax Masters of Morton Grove, Illinois, told RentCafe.com.
In urban areas, baby boomers at least age 55 accounted for the biggest surge in renters (39%) followed by 27% for those who chose to live in the suburbs, the site said. Many households featured renters with at least a bachelor’s degree (23%) and those without minor children (21%) i.e. empty nesters, according to the findings.
Also, between 2009 and 2015, around 2.5 million senior households joined the renters market across the United States, further proving that as Americans near retirement, many of them are choosing to dump their homes and move into the city to rent. Only a few more than a quarter-million of those under age 34 joined the renters market during that same period, the findings show.
“As you get older, there are only so many things you want to concentrate on. Apartment life lets you focus on things that matter and get rid of stuff that takes up a lot of time,” Russ Chung, a 60-year-old college administrator who rents a a luxury one-bedroom space in Manhattan, told finance news site CNBC.com.
Because of the time they’ve had to accumulate wealth, baby boomers have more disposable income than younger Americans. That makes them very attractive to developers, who are looking for the would-be tenants with high and steady incomes.
Another factor is the explosion of downtown entertainment, events and attractions in districts luring higher-income folks back into city centers. From the restaurants to the parking, downtown amenities aren’t cheap, so it makes sense that businesses would calibrate to draw a different kind of consumer.
“The boomers are the biggest demographic that can afford it,” Citi Habitats agent Jason Burke told CNBC. “But tech levels everything. We’re seeing a lot of engineers come to New York, a lot of people in tech who don’t work from an office.”
Money expert Clark Howard says that people in the market for an apartment need to be savvy consumers.
“If you are a renter coming up for renewal, or you are looking for a place to rent, be aware that you could go to a rental complex on three different days and get three different rents on the same apartment each time,” he writes. “The value of that apartment changes as often as every 24 hours based on market conditions in the area and what’s going on in that complex.”
Clark says that rents may be various prices even on the same floor plan, depending on factors such as locale and amenities. “One strategy might be to look for a less desirable unit that meets your square footage needs to save money.”