Renters Are Overtaking the Suburbs!


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If you’ve been wondering just how many renters are moving to the suburbs, there’s a new report that will give you a really good idea. RentCafe says that, over the past decade, dozens of suburbs have transitioned from a majority of homeowners to a majority of renters. And it’s projecting that dozens more will follow in the next five years.

Hi, I'm Kathy Fettke and this is Real Estate News for Investors. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a review.

RentCafe looked at data for 1,105 suburbs in the nation’s 50 largest metros, and found that in 242 of those suburbs, renters outnumber homeowners. (1) But of those 242 renter-dominated suburbs, 103 suburbs transitioned to a renter majority in just the last ten years. It also says that 57 more are likely to do so over the next five years.

Renters Migrating Toward the Suburbs

RentCafe says that: “During the past decade, the migration toward the suburbs developed fast.” It says: “The number of suburban areas where renters are the majority grew by a staggering 69%.” While 103 suburbs transitioned to a renter majority in the last ten years, only four suburbs went in the opposite direction, where homeowners became the majority over renters.

Millikin University associate sociology professor, Dr. Kenneth Laundra, told RentCafe that the modern day suburb is much different that the “Baby Boomer fantasyland” it was years ago. He says: “We have reimagined the American dream for a modern, more diverse society where people are having fewer children and getting married much later in life (if at all), and where most good job/career opportunities require one to be flexible.”

The Commercial Observer captured the spirit of that idea in a blog about the RentCafe report. The subtitle says: “The American Dream may no longer be about buying a home, but renting one.” (2)

That blog pointed out that the largest 50 suburbs gained 4.7 million people in the last ten years, and 79% of them were renters. That brought the approximate total number of suburban renters up to 21 million people, which is an increase of 3.7 million. During that same time frame, homeownership in those same suburbs only went up 3%.

Census data also provides an interesting snapshot of the suburban renter demographic. It shows that almost two out of every five suburban residents are renters. That’s an average of 39% of the people who live in the suburbs of our largest cities. Most of those renters are Millennials or Gen Zs who are interested in more affordable housing and a flexible lifestyle. The Commercial Observer reports that 55% of suburban renters are younger than 45 years old with a median income of about $50,000.

Top Three Metros for Suburban Renter Growth

The RentCafe report shows that 38% of the transitioning suburbs are found in three of the largest metros -- Miami, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles. One of the most famous L.A. suburbs is on that list. Due to a steady increase in renters over the last ten years, the data shows that 51% of the people who now live in Beverly Hills are renting their homes. According to RentCafe, the median income in Beverly Hills is about $81,000.

The suburb attracting the most renters to the D.C. area is Merrifield, Virginia. RentCafe says the renter population there is 87% higher than it was a decade ago. Of the 103 suburbs that transitioned, Merrifield now has the largest share of renters at 64%. It also has the highest median income at $98,000.

In the Miami area, the suburb that has become heavily dominated by renters is Doral, near the airport. The renter population grew 83% there, making it the third-largest area for renters in the nation. RentCafe says that some of its popularity may be due to its rank by Go.Verizon as the third-best small city to start a small business.

Rent Growth In Other States

While suburbs in California, Washington, D.C., and Florida captured many of these renters, there are many in other states that experienced rapid growth of their suburban renter population. The share of renters in Maple Heights, Ohio, Southeast of Cleveland, grew by 87%. Eastpoint, Michigan outside of Detroit, is close behind Maple Heights for renter growth at 83%.

Among those expected to flip in the coming years, RentCafe says there will be more in California and Florida, but also “quite a few in Georgia, Maryland, Missouri, and Ohio.”

If you’d like to see a list of the suburbs that have flipped or will likely flip in the next five years, check for links in the show notes at

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Thanks for listening. I'm Kathy Fettke.


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