More Americans Are Renting Long Term—And They Like It

January 27, 2020
Couple in front of apartment
By bodnarphoto

Homeownership used to be the American Dream. Now, the parameters of what constitutes success are shifting: According to Freddie Mac’s 2019 housing survey, over two-thirds of respondents feel renting fits their current lifestyle best, and nearly half of renters say they’ll likely never own a home. Part of this is economic, as some cannot afford to buy a house. But another reason lies in the flexibility of renting. Rent does not tie you down in the way a mortgage does, and more Americans want the freedom to pick up and move whenever they feel the need for a change. The increased amenities and concierge services in apartments do not hurt, either. This increased interest in long-term renting comes amid pushes by local and state governments to upzone areas to address the housing shortage, and for builders, the shift could mean an opportunity to expand into multifamily housing. 

The popularity of apartment living continues to increase, and not just as a temporary option.

According to Freddie Mac’s 2019 housing survey, nearly 40 percent of renters report that they will likely never own a home — up from 23 percent two years ago — and 80 percent say renting is a better fit for their current lifestyle.

A spectrum of age groups from Gen Zers just entering the workforce to baby boomers edging closer to retirement — even high-income earners who can afford to own a house — are choosing to rent.

Here are the top five reasons:

The new American Dream

For years, many Americans considered homeownership an essential part of the American Dream. But growing student loan debt, an increasingly transient workforce and the elimination of the government’s first-time home buyer tax credit in 2010 have prompted a change in the overall perception of renting.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York reported student loan debt reached an all-time high of $1.48 trillion as of June 2019, and the amount is only expected to increase in 2020. And, according to the 2019 Millennial Manager Workplace Survey, 40 percent of millennials have had four or more jobs since entering the workforce, and 75 percent say regularly changing jobs helps to advance their careers.

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