So you think you have the average American renter all figured out—that they're a group of young, unsettled, commitmentphobic folks, just starting out and scraping by? Well, you might want to widen out that picture a bit. The reality: The fastest-growing group of new renters includes those aged 50 or older, or younger folks raking in six-figure salaries, according to a new report.
This is a tale of the haves—who could afford to buy a home, but choose not to—and the have-nots, who don't make enough money to become homeowners. And although overall rental prices are starting to level off, and in some cases even dip a little, there still aren't nearly enough affordable rentals to meet the overwhelming demand from lower-income renters.
The new renter: Older and wealthier than you'd expect
Overall, renters had a median age of 40 in 2016—up from 38 in 2016. (In comparison, homeowners are a median 56.) That's because more baby boomers, whose kids have flown the coop, are downsizing out of their large, suburban homes and opting for maintenance-free rentals instead. No more mowing the lawn and shoveling snow for them! That's pushing up the median age of all renters.
More folks earning some serious dough are also choosing to rent rather than buy. About 13.3% of renter households made more than $100,000 in 2016. That's up from 9% in 2006.
That's partly because some high earners are saddled with high student debt loads, making it difficult to cobble together a down payment. In addition, more-walkable cities, many of which have undergone attractive revitalizations, have also become desirable places to live. So those with means are willing to lease a unit in a newly constructed community with luxe amenities.