How Age and Gender Play a Role in Single Renter Preferences
While single renters constitute close to half of the demand within small apartment units, their growth has been faster in larger buildings, where preferences by both age and gender play a significant role.
Share of Single Renter Units Significant in Small Apartment Buildings
With greater lifestyle flexibility, apartments have remained a popular choice for singles living alone. This fact is true across all apartment property types, where single renters have dominated rental demand. In the post-financial crisis period, singles have displayed building preferences by gender. (Note: the Census definition of single includes unmarried people and those who were never married, widowed or divorced.)
As shown below, single renters living alone comprise 45% of all households within small apartment buildings. Of that 45%, there was an equal share of male and female renters in 2015.
In contrast, single renters form a significantly higher share (nearly 60%) of all households within large buildings, which typically provide more on-site services and amenities. Single female renters comprise a 35% share — more than 10 percentage points higher compared to single male renters living alone.
Single Renter Units Experiencing Slower than Average Growth in Small Buildings
While the overall distribution of single households is skewed toward female renters living alone in large buildings, recent post-crisis growth trends indicate a reshuffling in apartment type preferences.
Small apartment buildings are increasingly catering to family households with children. They are also showing a slower growth trend in terms of single renter households.
As shown below, both single male and single female renters in small properties grew at an annual rate of 1.6% between 2010 and 2015. This statistic is lower than the overall household growth rate of 2%.
In quite a stark contrast, large apartment buildings have become increasingly popular with single male renters, a cohort that grew at 3.3% in the post-crisis period — twice the rate of single female renters. This might be due to the recently reported trend of significantly higher homeownership rate among single women.
The Role of Age in Single Renting Choices
As discussed above, single renters constitute the dominant demand segment across all apartment property types. Further, single renter unit growth has been skewed toward large apartment buildings, which is further dominated by male renters living alone.
In combination with gender, renting patterns by age categories provide additional insights to property operators for pinpointing important demand segments.
As shown below, single female renters living in small buildings included a higher share of seniors (65 years and over) at 28% in 2015. This is twice the senior share within single male renters.
Further, the share of seniors within single renters was significantly higher in large asset buildings, as shown below. This jumped to a 30% share for single male renters and a whopping 55% for single female renters.
An analysis of the growing trend of single renters across asset, age and gender lines not only confirms the broader trends discussed previously but also shows a few unexpected growth segments.
While in general, single renter growth is skewed toward large asset buildings, data indicates that between 2010 and 2015, single male renters 65 years and over living in small buildings were the fastest growing renter segment across the board.
Though single female renters had lower overall growth rates compared to men, they showed lesser variation by age. According to data, female seniors in small properties were the fastest growing category among women.
Property owners need to closely watch labor market trends that ultimately drive what single renters are looking for. These preferences can have implications for both unit sizes and the number of bedrooms needed.