Renting Statistics: Trends & Demographics (2023)
We've gathered and analyzed the most recent statistics about renters. Below you will find a detailed discussion of the following topics:
- How Many People Rent?
- Renter Demographics
- Cost of Renting vs. Buying
- Median Rent by State and Metro Area
- Why Rent is Going Up
- Percentage of Income Spent on Rent
Key Renting Statistics
- 34% (44 million) of U.S. household are renters.
- 34.4% of renters are under 35.
- 38.1 of renters live alone, while 59.5% of homeowners are married couples.
- In the top 25% net worth percentile, 3.9% are renters.
- The typical U.S. renter is 39 years-old, has never been married, with at least 4-years of college education, and earns a median annual income of $42,500.
- The national median rent exceeded $2,000 in 2022
- New York, California, and Massachusetts are the most expensive states in which to rent.
- The median rent-to-income ratio for renters is 57% or 2x the recommended 30% ratio.
- The typical rental is a 2-bedroom apartment with 1.5 baths and an area between 1,000 and 1,999 square feet.
How Many People Rent?
According to the market & consumer database Statista, nearly 44 million housing units were rented, comprising 34% of the total U.S. households.
Per U.S. Census data, the average household size is 2.6 people. Thus, the number of renters was 114.4 million, or 35% of the U.S. population in 2021.
The typical U.S. renter is 39 years old, has never been married, with at least 4-years of college education, and has a median annual income of $42,500 (the national median annual income is $67,500).
One-third of renters have children under 18 living in the home, and over 80% have pets.
Renters and Rental Properties
The most important factor for renters when considering a rental property is that the unit fits their budget, followed by the number of bedrooms. Additional amenities, such as a shared gym, rooftop deck, or pet areas, are not considered necessary.
Most renters live in apartment buildings. The typical rental is a 2-bedroom apartment with 1.5 baths and an area between 1,000 and 1,999 square feet (500-999 square feet for most recent renters).
The typical renter submitted two rental applications and paid a security deposit of between $500-999.
Two-thirds of current renters are planning to move again within the next three years, with 48% intending to move to another rental and 37% planning to buy a home.
Renters vs. Homeowners
Renting a home -- as opposed to buying -- offers little upfront costs, lower upkeep expenses, fewer responsibilities, and greater freedom, but it doesn't build equity.
As a group, renters tend to be younger, live alone, earn less, and have less wealth than homeowners.
Here’s the data we’ve gathered from Pew Research supporting these conclusions.
Over a third of all renters are under 35, while the largest share of homeowners (22.8%) falls into the 55-64 age category.
Here is a table with the age of homeowners and renters.
Interestingly, the number of people owning vs. renting between ages 35-54 differs by only 1%, with 34.5% being homeowners and 35.5% being renters.
Over a third of renters (38.1%) live alone, while most homeowners (59.5%) are married couples.
Here is a breakdown of household composition for renters and homeowners:
|Living w/ Roommates||11.5%||4.3%|
Homeownership increases as people earn more. In the bottom 25% of earners, most are renters, while in the top 25% of earners, 90% own a home.
Here is a table that breaks down renter and homeowner income by quartile:
Homeowners have more wealth. In the lowest 25% by net worth, 87.6% are renters. In the top 25% of net worth, only 3.9% rent while 96.1% own a home.
Here is the breakdown of net worth between renters and homeowners:
|Net Worth Quartile||Renters||Owners|
Sources: Pew Research; U.S. Census
Cost of Renting vs. Buying
Rent vs. Mortgage Payments
Historically, monthly mortgage payments are higher than rents.
According to Business Insider, the average mortgage payment nationwide was $2,064 on a 30-year fixed mortgage and $3,059 on a 15-year fixed mortgage as of May 2022.
Comparing that to the current national average rent for a 2-bedroom apartment of $2,048 gives us a difference of $12 and $1,011 a month, compared to the monthly payments on a 30- and 15-year fixed mortgage, respectively.
Thus, the current national average mortgage payment is $12 to $1,011 higher than the current national average monthly rent.
Sources: Business Insider; Rent.com
Monthly Expenses of Renting vs. Buying
Renters are not responsible for taxes, home insurance, HOA fees, and in some cases, utilities – all of which widen the monthly cost gap between buying and renting.
According to research by Realtor.com, the homeowners’ average monthly payments were higher than the median rent in 38 out of the 50 largest U.S. metro areas in 2022.
Renting is cheaper than buying in some cities. Here are the metros with the most significant differences between average monthly costs of buying vs. median rent.
Here is a table of housing markets where renting is cheaper than buying:
|Metro Area||Monthly Rental Savings|
The metro areas where buying is cheaper than renting are scattered in the South and Midwest and include Pittsburgh, Birmingham, St. Luis, Cleveland, Baltimore, Louisville, Indianapolis, and Kansas City. The costs of renting vs. buying in these areas are less significant, between $12-522 a month, in favor of buying.
This is not to say that while the costs of buying a home skyrocketed, rents remained stable. Rents grew tremendously in the past 18 months, but the increasing mortgage interest rates pushed the home buying costs even further.
Median Rent by State and Metro Area
In 2022, the median monthly rent reached $2,002 nationally, rising 2% month-over-month and 15% year-over-year.
Median Rent by State
Renters in most U.S. states have experienced rent increases of at least 10% from 2021 to 2022.
Renters in Arizona, Tennessee, New York, Nevada, and Utah saw 20% or more statewide increases between 2021-2022, and Florida's rents increased by 28% on average.
Only Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, and South Dakota saw rent increases below 10% in 2021-2022.
According to the per-state data provided by Zillow, the top 3 most expensive states for renters are New York, California, and Massachusetts, with median rents of $3,400, $3,000, and $2,900 respectively. Here’s a breakdown of the median rent by the state for 2022 (in diminishing order):
Median Rent by Metro
In 2022, the asking monthly rents were above the national average in 33 out of 50 most populous U.S. metros, and New York and New Jersey metro areas saw monthly rents exceeding $4,000 or 2x the national average.
In Austin, Texas, the median rent surged 48%, while in Nashville, Seattle, and Cincinnati, the rents increased 30% from a year earlier.
Just 3 major metro areas saw the rents fall over a year prior – the rents declined 10% in Milwaukee and 3% in Kansas City, MO, and Minneapolis. Here’s the breakdown of the median monthly rent, alphabetically by metro area, in 2022:
|Metro Area||Median Asking Rent||YoY Change|
|Fort Lauderdale, FL||$3,157||29.0%|
|Fort Worth, TX||$2,200||21.6%|
|Kansas City, MO||$1,428||-2.9%|
|Las Vegas, NV||$1,837||17.4%|
|Los Angeles, CA||$3,400||9.6%|
|Montgomery County, PA||$2,385||13.2%|
|Nassau County, NY||$4,008||24.4%|
|New Brunswick, NJ||$4,008||24.4%|
|New York, NY||$4,008||24.4%|
|San Antonio, TX||$1,453||17.7%|
|San Diego, CA||$3,432||21.5%|
|San Francisco, CA||$3,752||16.6%|
|San Jose, CA||$3,621||16.7%|
|St. Louis, MO||$1,561||4.3%|
|Virginia Beach, VA||$1,670||13.5%|
|West Palm Beach, FL||$3,157||29.0%|
Why Rent is Going Up
Rents are increasing nationally because demand for rental units exceeds supply: an increasing number of people want to rent, while the availability of homes for rent remains tight.
The number of U.S. households renting homes has been gradually increasing for the past 10 years, reaching 43.95 million in 2021, a 2.3% increase over a year prior. In the ten years, the annual number of homes rented in the U.S. grew by 10.3%.
Here's a table with the number of homes rented by U.S. households annually between 2012-2021:
|Year||Renter Occupied Housing Units|
Rental supply can be traced by the rental vacancy rate, an indicator showing how many rental homes are available at any time.
Below is the table showing the annual vacancy rate for 2012-2021:
|Year||Average Vacancy Rate|
The diminishing rental vacancy rates indicate that while more people wanted to rent a home, fewer homes were available to rent.
The current shortage of rental housing market is estimated to be between 2 million and 5 million units, according to YardiMatrix.com.
In 2022, the vacancy rate dropped even further, to 5.8%, leading to another increase in rental prices.
Percentage of Income Spent on Rent
A good rule of thumb is that one’s rent should not exceed 30% of gross income.
Using the data covered in this post, let's quickly calculate the current rent-to-income ratio.
The national median monthly rent was $2,002 as of May 2022, which amounts to $24,024 in annual rent spending.
According to Zillow's data published in July 2022, the renters' annual median income is $42,500.
Dividing the annual median rent by the annual median income gives us the current rent-to-income ratio of 57%, nearly 2x the recommended 30% guideline.
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