Co-Living Gains Ground as More Senior Renters Age in Place Together
- An increasing share of senior renters (65 years or over) now live with unrelated adults across all multifamily properties.
- Small apartment buildings have slightly higher shares of senior renters with roommates compared to large multifamily properties.
- The co-living senior renter segment is growing the fastest in large asset multifamily.
More Seniors Sharing Rentals within Small Properties
Sharing rental homes is no longer just a Millennial affair. The number of seniors living with unrelated roommates has swelled in recent years, capturing the national spotlight, according to Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS).
JCHS provides three primary reasons for the emerging trend: housing affordability; social connection and personal security; and help with daily chores. These are all factors that support ‘aging in place.’
Some seniors may opt to share an extra bedroom because it is more affordable. They can then hold onto rent-controlled units, reduce their monthly rent and enjoy the added benefit of not living alone.
The latest Census data indicates that the share of co-living among senior renters is the highest within single-family rental (SFR) properties (6.1%). The share declines in small and large multifamily properties to 4.6% and 3.2%, respectively¹.
However, these figures are only one-third of the rates for the broader renter population. This is because home-sharing remains most prevalent among Millennial renters. In small asset multifamily, for example, the share of renters living with roommates was 14.4% across all age groups.
Segment Growing Fastest within Large Properties
Because of their ‘aging in place’ needs, seniors’ preferences for co-living often go hand-in-hand with building-level amenities and location.
The share of seniors living with unrelated adults increased by nearly 60 basis points in large asset multifamily. These properties are often well situated to provide direct access to urban services and healthcare.
On the other hand, small asset multifamily had a declining share of co-living seniors. This is because these properties are less frequently equipped with accessibility features like elevators and wheelchair lifts. SFR shares increased marginally.
The characteristics of the senior co-living segment are emerging slowly but surely. As an increasing share of Baby Boomers choose to live in multifamily properties, this offers exciting new prospects for multifamily operators in the years to come.
1 All data is sourced from the American Community Survey (ACS), unless otherwise stated. ACS statistics are sample-based estimates of the compositional profile of the total population in the given year of data collection, and include a margin of error.