Rental Trends and Plans: Why Renters Choose To Rent

Published: Jun 10, 2024

Forever renters


The dream of homeownership may be fading for many Americans, making understanding the preferences and trends among renters essential. Our most recent study reveals the factors driving rental choices, the cities that attract renters, and the features people seek in their rented homes. In this article, we explore our key findings and offer insights into renters’ mobility trends, economic considerations, and the unique preferences of different generations. Find out why many Americans continue to choose renting over owning a home.

Key Takeaways

  • 1 in 8 renters plans to rent indefinitely. Baby boomers (37%) are the most likely to have such intentions.
  • 53% of renters do so because they can’t afford a down payment.
  • 45% of renters relocate every 2 years or sooner; around 1 in 10 moves every year.
  • Denver, Colorado, is the city renters most want to move to.
  • 66% of renters feel renting is their only viable option right now.

Exploring Indefinite Renting

Renting offers unique advantages that can make it a preferred choice over homeownership. First, we dug into the primary reasons behind this preference and the motivations that drive renters to rent vs. buy a home.


Renting indefinitely


Among all respondents, the top 5 motivations for preferring to rent were:

  1. Inability to afford a down payment (53%)
  2. High mortgage rates (43%)
  3. Desire for flexibility in living arrangements (35%)
  4. Preference for less responsibility (33%)
  5. Belief that owning costs more than renting (29%)

The fact that over half of respondents indicated their primary reason for renting was being unable to afford a down payment on a home points to a common financial challenge that prevents many from transitioning to homeownership. And while 1 in 8 renters said they plan to rent indefinitely, baby boomers were the most likely to say so at 37%. 

Rental Trends and Preferences

Renters’ mobility trends, preferred cities, and desired rental features give us a glimpse into their living preferences and relocation patterns. Let’s see where renters want to move, how often they relocate, and what they look for in a home.


Most desired cities to rent a home


Our survey indicates that 45% of renters have mostly relocated within two years of moving into a new place, but almost 1 in 10 said they move every year. So, where to next?

Denver, Colorado, was the top city most renters said they’d like to move to — which could explain the city’s recent population boom. The top 10 most desired cities for renting were:

  1. Denver, CO
  2. New York, NY
  3. Los Angeles, CA
  4. Seattle, WA
  5. Chicago, IL
  6. Portland, OR
  7. San Diego, CA
  8. Raleigh, NC
  9. Houston, TX
  10. Washington, D.C.

Among the baby boomers we surveyed, 46% prioritized rentals that offered maintenance and repair services — rental features that offer ease and peace of mind. Most of them (71%) also preferred ground-floor or single-story homes. These can provide convenience and accessibility, particularly for older tenants. 

Over half (55%) chose suburban areas for their rentals, where they’ll find more quiet and spacious environments compared to city living. When it came to the type of property, 59% preferred houses and 30% opted for apartments. This choice often involves balancing the spaciousness and privacy of a house against the lesser costs of an apartment.

Economic Factors Shaping Rental Decisions

Financial considerations significantly impact why many choose renting over owning a home. This section explores the key economic factors influencing these decisions.


Is renting your only viable option


Overall, respondents said they spend an average of $1,441 on rent each month, which translates to $17,292 per year. This amount varied by generation, with baby boomers spending the least on monthly rent:

  • Millennials: $1,500
  • Gen Z: $1,494
  • Gen X: $1,436
  • Baby boomers: $1,223

However, owning a home can cost even more than renting, which is one reason why more people rent than own these days compared to previous decades. Our survey mirrored this trend: 66% of renters said they feel that renting is their only viable option. Specifically, 59% of baby boomers did not feel capable of owning a home at this stage of their lives.

The Future Is Renting

Many factors influence Americans’ rental decisions and preferences. Financial challenges like the inability to afford a down payment and high mortgage rates remain primary reasons for choosing to rent versus buy a home. The desire for flexibility and less responsibility also plays a significant role, especially among older generations.

Renters today are selective about the financial aspects as well as the locations and features of their homes. Baby boomers particularly value suburban living, and across all generations, Denver has recently attracted the most interest regarding where to rent. As we look to the future, these insights can help address the needs and preferences of American renters of all ages.


For this campaign, we surveyed 1,013 renters to explore their perceptions of renting. Among them, 19% were Gen Z, 40% were millennials, 25% were Gen X, and 15% were baby boomers.

About Lance Surety Bonds

Lance Surety Bonds offers no-hassle online bonds, serving businesses and individuals in all 50 states. We offer the lowest rates, even to people with challenging credit situations, and various bond types, including real estate broker bonds.

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