The Rise of Solo Renting: 16.7 Million Americans Opt for Solo Living

In 2021, there was a 6.7% increase in the number of solo renters in the United States compared to 2016, which added one million more individuals to this demographic. This data, as reported by RentCafe, highlights solo renters as the fastest-growing segment among all renters.

In recent years, the landscape of housing in the United States has undergone a significant transformation, with an increasing number of Americans choosing to live alone as renters. According to RentCafe1 study, the number of solo renters in the country reached 16.7 million, showing a 6.7% increase between 2016 and 2021.

This surge was particularly noticeable in 2020, likely influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic and the desire for personal space and social distancing.

Generational Preferences

The trend of solo renting is not evenly distributed across generations. Baby Boomers and Millennials are leading the way in this housing shift. Baby Boomers make up the largest group of solo renters, with 5.3 million individuals, accounting for 32.4% of this demographic. This is partly attributed to aging in place, made more feasible by the rise of smart home technologies and online services. Baby Boomers living alone typically need an income of just under $50,000 to sustain this lifestyle.

Millennials, despite their increasing presence in homeownership, remain the dominant generation of renters, with 4.8 million of them opting for solo living arrangements. Millennials represent 29.5% of Americans renting by themselves, with an average income of $55,973, emphasizing their desire for personal space and freedom.

Gen X, the Silent Generation, and Gen Z also contribute to the trend, with 3.5 million, 2.1 million, and 640,000 solo renters, respectively.

Regional Trends

Salt Lake City saw the most significant increase in the share of renters living alone, rising by 24.9% between 2016 and 2021. Lone renters in Salt Lake City now account for 15% of the city’s entire population of renters, likely attracted by a thriving economy that includes healthcare, technology, and energy sectors.

The state of Texas dominates the list of top cities with growing solo renters. McAllen, TX, experienced a 24.2% increase, Austin’s solo renters grew by 23.9%, and San Antonio saw a 21.7% spike. In these cities, affordable housing and strong economies have made solo renting an attractive option.

Philadelphia and Indianapolis lead the way with the highest share of renters living alone, both at 20%. Their numbers increased by 12.7% and 12%, respectively, in the five-year period analyzed.

The growing trend of solo renting in the United States reflects changing preferences among renters. Baby Boomers and Millennials, in particular, are opting for the independence and privacy that come with living alone. Regional differences, driven by economic factors and cost of living, also play a significant role in the rise of solo renters. This trend is likely to continue evolving as the housing landscape adapts to the shifting needs and desires of American renters.

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