- San Francisco; Jersey City, New Jersey; Manhattan; Philadelphia and Boston saw the largest increase in the share of Gen Z, or Zoomer, rental applicants in 2021, according to a RentCafe analysis of lease applications from the youngest generation of adults. Arlington, Virginia; San Jose, California; Seattle; Minneapolis and Los Angeles rounded out the top 10.
- Gen Z, those born between 1997 and 2012, posted a 21% increase in rental activity in the past year, making it the only generation to record an increase. Zoomers, drawn out of their parent's homes or roommate situations by a strong economy, account for a quarter of lease applications nationwide, according to RentCafe.
- Members of Gen Z are claiming a growing share of apartments. They represent more than one-quarter of active renters in San Diego, Los Angeles, Manhattan and Philadelphia — all with a population of over 1 million. Thirteen of the 20 most popular cities for Zoomers have populations of more than 250,000.
The apartment industry enjoyed record rent growth in 2021. In many cases, pent-up demand among the oldest Gen Z renters drove that growth. Overall, Gen Z, totaling 68.2 million people, makes up 20.2% of the U.S. population, according to figures from Insider Intelligence and the U.S. Census Bureau.
Cities attracting Gen Z renters
|City||Change in share of Gen Z renters, 2020 to 2021|
The New York rental market, which has caught fire in the past few months, has benefited from an influx of young people, according to Michael P. Feldman, co-founder and CEO of New York-based property management firm Choice New York Cos.
Jersey City's popularity among members of Gen Z can be attributed to a downtown development boom and proximity to Manhattan's financial district, according to RentCafe. If companies begin to call people back to the office, Gen Z renters won't be too far from work.
"Some companies are hybrid now," Feldman said."Almost nobody is full [in-person at the office]. The bigger the company, the less likely people are to be in the office."
As companies adopt hybrid work policies, it could free up younger renters to live further away from their jobs in Manhattan and in more affordable areas, like Jersey City. However, affordability isn’t the only thing Gen Z renters seek.
"A lively vibe, diversity, jobs and great connectivity are just a few of the many reasons that the youngest generation of renters finds large cities attractive," according to RentCafe. "Gen Z was born to be digital and, as such, a fast and reliable connection is no longer just a choice, but rather a necessity."