PhotoOnly a couple of decades ago, renters were typically people in their 20s who lived in dingy apartments in poorly maintained old buildings until they saved enough to buy a place.

Well, as Bob Dylan noted back in the 60s, the times, they are a changin'.

Today's renters are a different breed who want a place offering a convenient, quality lifestyle, a comfortable living space, a place to exercise, and a place to socialize -- all in one package.

A report from RentCafé points to data from the Census Bureau, which shows that there have been numerous changes to renting since 2009 -- around the time when the housing meltdown had more people looking at renting rather than owning.

Seniors take command

According to the government, the biggest change in the renting population came from seniors aged 55 and over.

The percentage of oldsters renting between 2009 and 2015 rose by 2.5 million, or 28 percent. By comparison, the number of renters aged 35-54 increased by 1.95 million, while renters aged 34 or younger went up by just 0.5 million..

The report indicates that roughly 39 percent more renters over 55 live in the suburbs than they did in 2009, with 21 percent more living in cities. While owning a home and raising a family in the suburbs once defined the baby boom generation, it now finds itself in a big empty house with high property taxes.

“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,” said Simona Solomie, a real estate broker with Remax Masters of Morton Grove, Ill.

A surge in highly-educated renters

A check of education levels shows those holding a bachelor degree or higher account for the largest share of new renters added between 2009 and 2015. Consumers in this group increased by 26 percent in the suburbs and by 20 percent in cities.

Consumers with some college education or equivalent make up the second highest increase in renters, with 19 percent and 12 percent increases in suburban and urban areas, respectively. Those who only earned a high school diploma or less accounted for the smallest increase.

Phoenix and Denver attracted the highest-educated renters, while the number of least-educated renters decreased in several metro areas -- including New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Denver, and St. Louis.

Families head for the burbs

Renting households with no children -- which includes either couples or single householders with no children present in the household -- accounted for the biggest renting increase by family type, with 33 percent more living the suburbs and 16 percent more living cities.

Suburban Tampa, Fla. saw renting family households with no children increasing the most (74 percent). The increases were much lower in urban areas, with the most significant increase in urban Seattle, Wash., where the number of families with no kids is up by 36 percent.

The report showed that renter families with children also favored the suburbs over city-living, with growth of 29 percent in the former compared to 8 percent in the latter. Suburban Washington, D.C. was the most popular area for these families, with an increase of 83 percent.

“From my experience,” said Solomie, “renting in the suburbs is preferred because – one: renting in the suburbs is less expensive than renting in the city, and two: the suburban lifestyle has changed so much in the past ten, fifteen years for a lot of suburbs, it has become vibrant and full of life with close-by shopping, restaurants, entertainment, fine parks, and transportation.”


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