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Why Renting Isn't Just For Millennials

By: Yuki Graviet Knapp
August 11, 2016

Article after article has been written about the millennials as a "renter generation" and their struggles in the realm of homeownership. Most millennials plan to rent for years to come, and rental properties galore are catering to the preferences of this generation (think: microunits, more shared spaces, shorter leases, etc.). But there's another generation of renters on the horizon, a generation that has been receiving more attention recently: the Baby Boomers. What do these renters need, and how are multifamily properties catering to this bunch? Keep reading to find out.

More Boomers are selling their homes in favor of renting

Our data shows that the population of Baby Boomer renters increased by 34% from 2007-2014, reaching 11.8 million renters in 2014. An increased number of Baby Boomers are beginning to recognize the benefits of renting over homeownership (no maintenance, more luxury in a smaller space, sense of community, etc.), and rental properties are finding that many Boomers are actually selling their homes in favor of renting apartments. The 2016 State of the Nation's Housing report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies cites "declines in homeownership rates among [baby-boomer renters]" as one of the drivers for the 4.3 million increase in number of renter households in the U.S. from 2005-2015. No doubt the Boomers have gained a notable presence in the rental market!

What do Boomer renters want?

Rather unsurprisingly, Boomer renters are drawn to high quality, larger space, and more luxury. The greatest differentiator between this generation of renters and others is affordability. What they're looking for includes:

  • High-end amenities and appliances
  • Larger closets and master bathrooms
  • Chef's kitchens
  • Large balconies for outdoor dining
  • High-end restaurants and retail nearby
  • Wine refrigerators
  • Luxury apartments on upper level floors

Though Boomer renters seek cost-effective options in general, they often have relatively larger budgets to accommodate their high-end preferences, as compared to younger generations of renters. More space means that family can still come to visit; greater walkability means faster access to high-end options; larger kitchens means opportunities for at-home entertaining.

Boomers are also typically looking for long-term leases, as compared to younger generations of renters (lookin' at you, Millennials) who prize more transitory options. Boomer renters are more likely to be seeking out a home where they can stay, rather than be itching to leave in 1-2 years.

What are multifamily properties doing to accommodate these needs?

Interestingly enough, Boomer and Millennial renters are very similar when it comes to what they're looking for in an apartment community. Shared spaces are becoming increasingly popular as renters of all ages are seeking a sense of belonging and connection.

"One of the things that we have been addressing in many of our new developments is the trend of larger clubhouses and amenity spaces...we are seeing a large number of residents using amenity spaces as true extensions of their apartment homes," shares Sara Scarborough Graham, Director of Marketing at Dolben. "We are also finding that flexible work/play areas allow multiple groups of residents to enjoy an amenity space at the same time."

For Boomers particularly, there is a strong desire to live in multigenerational settings, where they can bond and interact with people of all ages.

According to Karen Kossow, Vice President of Marketing at Fore Properties, many Boomers are feeling the pull to be near other families and couples, rather than living in areas where other seniors are the majority. This commonly held desire for community provides a strong incentive for multifamily properties to continue placing their focus not only on creating more shared amenities, but ones that appeal to all ages. Fore Properties, for example, is beginning to introduce outdoor gaming areas to their apartments, with amphitheaters, concrete ping-pong tables, concrete corn hole games, etc. This takes outdoor space (typically focused on relaxation) to the next level by introducing more opportunities for interaction.

Multifamily properties are also giving Baby Boomers more attention and assistance in walking them through the leasing process, as many of them are first-time renters.

Why renting isn't just for Millennials

Renting is a great option for any person of any age who wants a certain lifestyle--not to mention freedom from the responsibilities of caring for a house. Multifamily properties are working to provide spaces that cater to every generation, and the interior finishes and features that appeal to different ages. When it comes right down to it though, Boomers and Millennials alike are very similar when it comes to what they seek most in the rental space: a strong sense of community. As Kossow puts it, "In some ways they're all looking for the same thing."

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Yuki is a former member Growth Team at Apartment List. She enjoys eating, reading, spending time in the mountains, singing in the car, and exploring new places. Read More
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