Seniors aged 55 and older make up the U.S. renter population with the largest growth from 2009 to 2015, according to a study by rental news source RENTCafé. The senior renter population increased by 28% — equal to about 2.5 million more senior renter households.

The study further analyzes renter population growth by education and family type. The results show the highest growth in:

  • the number of renters who hold a bachelor’s degree or higher, which rose by 23%; and
  • the number of renters with no children, up by 21%.

Together this data points to a noticeable shift in Baby Boomer trends from primarily owning to renting.

Geographical renting trends

Though seniors are renting more frequently in all living environments, the largest increases have been in suburban neighborhoods. The number of senior renters in the suburbs increased 39%, compared to a 21% increase in cities.

As a generation largely defined by its loyalty to the suburbs, it’s no surprise many Baby Boomers continue to choose suburban housing over urban living. Newer suburban rental communities now offer a wider variety of amenities — an imitation of what’s available to urban renters — which further induce senior homeowners to remain in the suburbs.

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Further, of the 20 largest metro areas in the U.S., seniors are renting the most frequently in Riverside, CA. Here, the senior renter population grew a whopping 63% from 2009 to 2015. Meanwhile, the largest net increases were seen in Los Angeles, which gained 134,000 new senior renter households.

The senior shift to renting

As Boomers retire, many seek new housing to accommodate the needs of their change in habits, often downsizing to smaller homes and relocating to new communities. However, high home prices and homeownership costs have made renting a more desirable alternative, encouraging Baby Boomers to leave behind homeownership for the conveniences of renting.

Though the suburbs still reign for Boomers, more senior homeowners will likely turn to urban environments that afford social and cultural activities not available in suburbia, such as access to wellness centers, cultural events, parks and walking trails.

Other Boomers no longer tied down by employment will relocate closer to their children and grandchildren, who typically live in urban environments or suburban communities with more amenities.

Thus, the desire for flexible, senior-friendly communities creates greater demand for residential developers to build senior rental housing tailored to these needs.

The rise in senior renters also requires real estate agents to familiarize themselves with Boomer demanded amenities and rental housing available in and around the neighborhoods they service. With seniors ready to rent now more than ever, agents who remain knowledgeable of these growing trends will be in the best position to assist them with their relocation needs.

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