Renters on the Rise: The 21 Cities in America Where Homeowners Are Outnumbered

published Apr 17, 2017
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(Image credit: Anita Jeerage)

Nationwide, home renters are on the rise. So much in fact that according to a recent study by ABODO based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, 36.4% of the American population is renting their household—the largest percentage the nation has seen since the 1960s. And as the number of renters continues to grow (there were 1.4 million new renter households in 2015 alone) so do renter-dominated cities.

As of 2015, renting has the become the majority in 21 cities across the United States. While it’s easy to assume that larger cities—i.e. places with populations of 100,000 or more—are simply renter hubs, in reality, only 21 of the more than 400 urbanized areas in the country are comprised of at least 50% renters. So what makes a certain city more renter-inclined than another? Read ahead for a breakdown of a few of ABODO’s more interesting discoveries.

(Image credit: ABODO)

1. Metropolises aren’t always renter-dominated.

Believe it or not, a few of the country’s biggest metropolises are noticeably absent from ABODO’s list. Major cities such as Chicago, IL; Dallas, TX; Houston, TX; Washington, D.C.; Philadelphia, PA; and even Miami, FL are still dominated by homeowners, suggesting that the size of a city isn’t always a factor that influences whether you’ll rent there or not.

2. Except, of course, in San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles.

It’s no surprise that cities with extremely high housing costs—i.e. San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles—have more renters than homeowners. For example, ABODO notes that in 2015, the median monthly rent in the San Francisco-Oakland area was $1,603—whereas the median homeowners mortgage was $2,754 (the highest in the country). Similarly, in New York City homeownership costs exceed the median rent by $1,326. And in Los Angeles, renters spend $965 less a month on rent than homeowners do on mortgages.

(Image credit: ABODO)

3. Renters are young…

According to ABODO, the majority of renters on the list are under the age of 44 years old, with the highest percentage—24.29%—falling between the ages of 25 and 34. Homeowners, however, are much older: the company says 77.16% of them are over 45.

(Image credit: ABODO)

4. …but not necessarily single.

While renting is popular with young people, that doesn’t mean it’s favored by the single and unattached. When ABODO examined the percentages of renters whom identified as “families” versus “non-families,” they found it varied widely from city to city. For instance, in Salinas, CA, over 76% of renter households were families, while in Boulder, CO, only 20.9% were family homes.

5. College towns are renter hubs.

Obviously, it makes sense that college towns (with temporary populations of young people) are often renter hubs. Eleven of the 21 renter-dominated cities on the list—Boulder, CO; Champaign, IL; Columbia, MO; Lafayette, IN; Tallahassee, FL; Fargo, ND; College Station, TX; Athens, GA; Eugene, OR; Santa Barbara, CA; Gainesville, FL—are all home to popular public state universities. No wonder more than 50% of those cities renter households are occupied by non-families (aka “college kids”).

6. And so are cities near military bases.

Kind of like college towns, cities near military bases are made up of transient populations (according to ABODO the U.S. Department of Defense estimates that the average child in a military family moves six to nine times during a school career). No shock then that 4 of the 21 family-dominated, renter-majority cities on ABODO’s list—Killeen, TX; Clarksville, TN Fayetteville, NC; and Columbus, GA—are located on or near major military bases.