U.S. Solo Renters Age 50+ Way Up

The number living alone rose by more than half a million, but there’s been a growing trend of older people living with roommates.

By Rethinking65

While many younger Americans are renting apartments because they can’t afford to buy homes, older Americans are also becoming bigger renters, partly because renting is more cost effective than buying in most major U.S. metro areas.

And when older Americans do rent, they’re more likely to be able to afford to live alone.

Baby boomers comprise the largest population of people renting an apartment alone in the U.S. (32.4%, or 5.3 million), followed by millennials (29.5%), according to research from RentCafe, a nationwide apartment-listing service.

“Baby Boomers living alone need an income of just under $50,000 to maintain a solo renter lifestyle. That’s approximately $16,300 more than what the average renter needs in order to afford to rent, based on individual income estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau,” notes the RentCafe study. “To rent an apartment alone, a renter needs an extra annual income of $8,600 compared to the average renter.

Added Perspective

Members of the Silent Generation also add significantly to the renting trends compiled by RentCafe and based on the U.S. Census.

According to data RentCafe’s research team extracted for Rethinking65, the number of renters age 50 and above living alone rose by 561,249 or 7% between 2017 (8,510,157,) and 2022 (9,071,406).

Meanwhile, the number of renters age 50-plus with roommates jumped 18%, the highest percentage change among the categories. This number rose by 116,302 from 654,429 in 2017 to 770,731 in 2022.

Renters over 50 living with family members increased 3%, more modest growth compared to other categories. The total population of renters age 50 and up grew by 4% between 2017 and 2022, according to RentCafe, which publishes reports and analyses.

The RentCafe report offered some perspective on why more older Americans are renting along. “This can be largely attributed to the fact that aging in place is more feasible these days, especially with the rise of smart home technologies and easy access to online shopping and services — all the while the “gray divorce” phenomenon is on the rise.”

Renting may also be more cost effective for those who aren’t planning to stay in a house for the next decade or so.


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