By Scott Sowers (MultiFamilyExecutive.com Article) — The notion of empty nesters selling out and moving to a retirement community may have a key detail wrong – many of them will be paying rent, not some version of a reverse mortgage. According to a recent study by RENTCafe, the number of renters over the age of 60 grew by 43% in the last decade. It’s expected that by the year 2035 seniors will account for one third of the U.S. rental market and become the second largest group of renter households.
Austin, Texas, boasts the highest increase in the share of 60+ renters, clocking in at 113%, followed by Phoenix with a 112% increase and Fort Worth at 95%. When comparing the country’s 30 largest cities, New York City has the largest share of senior renter households with 27% and a 10-year growth rate of 20%.
According to some of the firm’s past studies, many older Americans are no longer enthusiastic about homeownership and intend to spend their golden years renting. The trend is rooted with empty-nesters finding themselves in a big home that they no longer need nor are able to maintain, says Florentina Sarac, a real estate writer and researcher who authored the study. They are drawn more and more to renting due to its flexibility and affordability.
“It’s increasingly difficult for them, both financially and physically, to maintain a property,” she says. “Renting offers them comfort, meaning that maintenance responsibilities are handed over to someone else and they don’t need to worry about taking care of the lawn or hiring technicians for repairs.”
The trend is further influenced by the fact that the U.S. population is getting older, which is pushing the median age higher. In 2007 the median age was 36.7 and then grew to 38.1 by 2017. Birth rates have fallen while life expectancy has gotten longer.
Not surprisingly, the areas of the country that attract retirees are also showing their age regarding who lives there. The top 30 oldest cities in the U.S. all have a median age over 39.6 and are mostly retirement locales in Florida, California, and Arizona. Florida is home to 12 of the country’s oldest cities, with Cape Coral, leading the pack at a median age of 47.9. Hialeah is next with 46.5 and Scottsdale, Arizona is third with a median age of 46.