Apartment Living

Apartment Living: No Longer Just for Singles and Couples

By Dawn Smith
photo creditVolodymyr Kyrylyuk/Dollar Photo Club

Predicting the status of the housing market is a game that is tough to win, especially reflecting on the housing crises of years past. However, a constant fixture for housing options during these tumultuous times has been access to apartment rentals. Apartment dwellers are now people of all ages and styles of living. Baby Boomers, Gen X, and Millennials continue to grow and diversify the "how" and "why" of apartment living. 
This graphic generated by The Atlantic Wire tries to capture the traditional way to define the generational nomenclature by relying on the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, The Census Bureau, and researchers Neil Howe and William Strauss:
  • Baby Boomers:  1946-1964
  • Generation X:  1965-1984
  • Millennials:  1982-2004
In correlation, the National Multifamily Housing Council neatly categorizes the characteristics of apartment residents according to their age ranges, income levels, and other distinguishing factors.
In 2013, the average percentage of renters was near 30% for each of the age categories: 
  • Less than 30 years old
  • 30 to 44 years
  • 45 to 64 years
Millennial Apartment Seekers

Adults categorized as Millennials may be what comes to mind as traditional apartment seekers. They are young and just beginning professional careers, living single or with roommates. Mixed use developments are popular with this group because of the convenience of local bars and restaurants which are, in some cases, directly below their apartment. 
Geographic location is very important to their "live, work, and play" lifestyle. These locations foster relationships within their own communities. Many acknowledge that to be in the exact neighborhoods they desire, renting is the only option because buying is unaffordable.
Millennials, particularly the women, are also driving the market for apartment rentals because their age group has chosen to put off marriage and/or motherhood which makes buying a home less appealing.
Generation X

Gen Xers carry not only their financial and emotional baggage left over from the housing crisis, but also from watching their parent’s mortgage struggles. Because this generation is traditionally known to be social yet independent and practical, renting an apartment is often a no brainer when it comes to finances. For them, apartments can provide a financial stability that homeownership can’t. The weekend pool parties and wine tasting events hosted by their developments certainly aren’t reasons to move into a traditional neighborhood quickly, either.
Because this generation is smaller than the Boomers before and the Gen Y and Millennials after, they will compete for all types of real estate, not just traditional single family homes, thereby solidifying the need for more apartment development. 
Baby Boomers

The Urban institute reports that "by 2030, we project that aging Baby Boomers will expand the number of senior households to 46 million." Coupled with the fact that as Boomers approach retirement age they tend to downsize,  the outlook for multi-family rentals will continue to grow. Baby Boomers enjoy the freedom of moving as they please without the family or work commitments they may have had previously. Luxury apartments will continue to draw older adults with wealth to spare who are looking for high-end amenities and the ability to travel at will.
Homeownership is a time consuming and costly endeavor. Baby Boomers will be ready to give up property taxes and maintenance calls for carefree and sometimes cheaper apartment living.
Predictability, flexibility, and convenience drive all three generations into multi-dwelling lifestyles. Tweet this!

Future apartment living will gain in popularity for a number of reasons, but two include the job market and the Boomer shift. When the job market sustains growth, those who found themselves living with their parents will emerge to test their new job’s staying power by renting apartments. Additionally, the move of Baby Boomers from traditional homes into smaller arrangements will secure the popularity and growth of apartment-style living.