Renters are now the majority in 103 suburbs that were previously homeowner territory 10 years ago, and 57 other suburbs are expected to follow suit in the next five years. Many of these suburbs belong to the Miami, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles metros, with notorious Beverly Hills, CA, among those that flipped. In addition, more Phoenix suburbs are joining a national trend of flowing with new renters.
Quick highlights on the Greater Phoenix area:
• El Mirage had the fastest growth in the area. From a renter share of 29% in 2010, it grew to 40% in 2019.
• Sun City, while having the lowest renter share, saw a spectacular jump of 26%. From a 14% renter population, it grew to 18% in 10 years.
• Scottsdale saw its renter population grow from 26% to 32% by the end of 2019.
• Avondale grew from 36% to 43%, while Glendale had a similar rise, from 37% to 43%.
The very definition of suburban living has been rewritten throughout the last decade as suburbs in the nation’s 50 largest metros gained 4.7 million people since 2010 — a whopping 79% of whom were renters, according to the latest U.S. Census data. Today, about 21 million people rent a suburban home in the 50 largest U.S. metros — 3.7 million more than 10 years ago. What’s more, between 2010 and 2019, the number of suburban renters grew by 22% — a number that dwarfs the 3% increase in suburban homeowners during the same period.
Due to these changes in numbers since 2010, renters claimed the majority share in 103 suburbs, while only four suburbs transitioned to owner-majority in the same timeframe. Moreover, the latest Census data shows that nearly two out of every five people in today’s suburbia are renters, making up an average share of 39% in the suburbs of our largest metros.
Renter-Majority Suburbs Increase by 69% in 10 Years
During the past decade, the migration toward the suburbs developed fast: The number of suburban areas where renters are the majority grew by a staggering 69%. Now, following the switch to renter majority of these 103 suburbs, there are a total of 242 renter-dominated suburbs out of 1,105 suburbs analyzed in our 50 largest metros.
According to Census data, most of the renters are Millennials and Gen Zs looking for housing options that better suit their budgets, as 55% of suburban renters are younger than 45 with median household earnings around $50,000.
Dr. Kenneth Laundra, associate professor of sociology at Millikin University, said that today’s suburbia was far different from the “Baby Boomer fantasyland” it used to be.
“We have reimagined the American dream for a modern, more diverse society where people are having fewer children and getting married much later in life (if at all), and where most good job/career opportunities require one to be flexible,” he said.
3 Metros Lead the Trend, Amassing 38% of New Renter-Dominated Suburbs
Nearly 40 of the suburbs that transitioned to renter-majority in the last decade belong to just three metros: Washington, D.C. (14); Miami (13); and Los Angeles (12).
The largest of the three metros, Los Angeles, is also home to one of the most famous suburbs in the world, which is now mostly renters. Specifically, about 51% of the people living in Beverly Hills, CA, are renters — a result of a steady increase in renter share during the last 10 years. Here, people living in rented homes have a median income of $81,000 — one of the highest of the 103 renter-majority suburbs.
However, when it comes to household earnings, first place belongs to another suburb on our list from the Eastern part of the country. In the Washington, D.C. metro area, Merrifield, VA, was an owner-majority suburb 10 years ago — but much has changed since then. Today, this thriving community with an urban feel has the largest share of renters of the 103 suburbs (64%), as well as the highest household income at $98,000 — nearly double the national median income of suburban renters. And, as the city grew in the last decade, so did its renter population, which increased by 87%. In fact, some even consider it to be among the best places to live in Virginia.
Further south, in the Miami metro, the suburb of Doral, FL — located near the Miami airport — has become renter-dominated thanks to a spectacular 83% increase in its renting population. That makes Doral the third-largest area for renters in the entire country, exceeding 30,000 renters in the past decade. The city’s popularity might be linked to the fact that it ranks as the third-best small city to start a small business in in the U.S. Plus, its affordable cost of living and 13-mile proximity to downtown Miami make Doral a highly appealing suburb in which to rent a home.