Renters’ Priorities Shift from Lower Cost to More Space

renters priorities in apartment search

Renters’ priorities have shifted, and now “more space” beats “cheaper.” In their apartment search prospective renters are looking for better apartment deals with open-air amenities and more living space, preferably in the city in which they  already live, according to a new survey from RentCafe.

How the pandemic has affected renters’ priorities in the rental-housing and apartment-selection process was the topic of the survey. It showed the move to larger apartments from price and safety.

“It seems as though renters are coping with the monotony of spending most of their time at home by looking for a change in scenery, more space, open-air amenities and better local deals,” RentCafé said in the survey results.

More than 10,000 people participated in the survey while looking for an apartment on the company’s website. “In particular, respondents shared how their preferences had changed after a year of staying at home, what their main concern was while moving, or how the pandemic had affected their rental selection process.

“The survey showed that lifestyle improvement was the main motivator for those looking to rent now, as the top features people search for in an apartment after one year of living in a pandemic are open-air amenities (21 percent) and more space (20 percent).

Details about how the pandemic affected the apartment search process

Renters’ priorities in the apartment search process included the following highlights:

  • Lifestyle improvement is the main motivator for those looking to rent after a year of pandemic living; 41 percent of renters picked open-air amenities and more space as their most essential apartment features in 2021, far outranking work-from-home amenities such as “home office” (five percent) or “good internet connection” (10 percent).
  • The reasons for moving are within the same spectrum; “looking for better deals” was the top answer for 29 percent of renters, followed by “the need for a change of scenery” (25 percent).
  • When asked how the pandemic affected their apartment-selection process, 28 percent of renters said they prefer a place to live by themselves. “Something cheaper” (25 percent) and “something larger” (19 percent) were next on the priority list.
  • Ninety percent of renters look for long-term rentals. Moreover, 48 percent wish to remain in the same city they are currently in, which once again shows that improving housing conditions is the goal, not necessarily a drastic change like moving to a different city.
  • Many of those who moved in the spring of 2020 seemed to have done so out of need, not because they wanted to. “Expiring lease” was the main reason for moving (26 percent), while a significant share of renters was concerned whether they’d be “able to pay rent during this time” (32 percent).

Renters’ Priorities in apartment search Shift from Lower Cost to More Space

Summary Renters’ Priorities

Last year, the RentCafé March 2020 renter survey showed the top renter preference in apartment search was price and the top concern was safety.

“And, while plans and preferences may have changed since last March and the first stay-at-home orders, one thing has remained the same – the optimistic, carry-on attitude of the average renter.

“Twelve months apart, both RentCafé surveys have shown that, whether by choice or necessity, people keep on moving. And, as we enter the second year of the pandemic, spending time at home has become the norm – prompting increasing numbers of renters to look for better deals and amenities that make it more pleasant to be there,” the company said.

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