Downsizing is becoming more popular and driving rental demand in both younger and older generations.
By Holly Welles
More people than ever are moving out of their homes and transitioning or downsizing to apartment living.
Apartments offer many advantages over owning a home. For one, renting can be cheaper than paying off a mortgage. Repairs and maintenance are essential to consider, too; in an apartment, tenants don’t have to pay out of pocket if there’s a leaky roof or burst pipe. This lack of responsibility can be a big stress reliever for anyone who doesn’t want to tap into their rainy-day fund.
Apartments offer benefits beyond savings, too. Many complexes offer excellent amenities, such as pools, gyms, laundry facilities, dog parks and convenience stores. If residents like to be social, they can also mingle with the building community and make new friends. Some buildings even host resident events, such as trivia night, bingo and potluck dinners.
With all this in mind, it’s no surprise that the share of the population who rent is only expected to grow in the United States. However, diving into the demographics can highlight less-obvious trends that help landlords prepare for the future of rentals. In this case, what does downsizing have to do with apartment living?
Downsizing to apartments and the older generations
Many young people choose to rent because they’re still building their savings and getting started in their careers. However, more people in older generations have decided to sell their homes, downsize their lives and move into apartments. The number of renters over the age of 60 grew by 43 percent in the last 10 years.
More than 22 percent of the U.S. population is aged 60 and over. These people are tired of the work and headaches that come with owning and maintaining a home. They want to enjoy their golden years and relax, which means putting up for-sale signs and searching for rentals in the classifieds. According to one study, 37 percent of baby boomers plan to move later in life, and, of those, 42 percent say they will choose a smaller home.
Renting comes with less responsibility and also tends to offer better accessibility for older people. Many apartments are on a single floor, meaning renters don’t have to traverse up and down the stairs to get their bedrooms, bathrooms or laundry rooms. Multi-story complexes also offer elevators, allowing convenient access for those who use walkers and wheelchairs.
What Landlords Can Expect Going Forward
With this trend of downsizing on the rise, what can property managers and landlords expect in the years to come?
More Age Variance
Millennials were responsible for 37 percent of home sales in 2018, with many moving out of apartments and into newly owned properties. Meanwhile, a growing proportion of people over age 60 are selling their homes and looking to downsize.
As such, landlords should prepare for a shift in the average renter’s age. They may need to change their strategy for how to market their available apartments based on how they appeal to each demographic. For instance, a significant community of older renters in the area, good amenities for low-maintenance living and other property touches can match what downsizers are looking for in their new space.
New amenity requests
When catering to younger people, multifamily developers may think amenities like high-speed Internet connections and dog parks are the way to go. However, they’ll soon have to consider what older generations may prefer.
For instance, those who can’t or don’t want to drive may appreciate a complimentary shuttle service that can get them to the grocery store and doctor’s appointments. Others may look for community-building programming that allows renters to socially connect in their new surroundings.
Property floor plans and additions
Older generations may have some different expectations compared to younger people regarding floor plans and safety features in downsizing to apartments. Small accessibility finishes like grab bars in the shower can help rentals offer long-term value for tenants. Many will look for simple, open floor plans that help them adjust to a downsized lifestyle and age in place for years to come.
Some renters will also seek out two- or three-bedroom apartments to accommodate family visits, particularly if they have children and grandchildren. Landlords with larger units or single-family rentals may benefit from marketing to older renters.
Millennials and Gen Zers aren’t the only ones who appreciate tech-laden apartments. The older generations also love gadgets that make their lives easier. According to one poll of nearly 6,000 older adults, 80 percent are interested in smart thermostats and apps that control appliances. Almost 70 percent want tech to improve their health at home, such as air purifiers, and 58 percent want cleaning robots.
Downsizing to apartments conclusion
The younger generation once monopolized the renting scene.
Today, however, older individuals are selling their homes and moving into apartments in droves. They’ve realized the benefits of downsizing and want to enjoy the convenience that comes with no responsibility.