Updated Dec 6, 2023 - Economy

Renting alone is too expensive for Gen Z

Share of solo renters by metro area, 2022
Data: Census Bureau; Map: Erin Davis and Alice Feng/Axios

Fifty is the new 25, at least when it comes to living alone.

Why it matters: That's about the average age of a solo U.S. renter, according to the latest census data. Many young Americans are splitting steep rents that eat into their income.

The big picture: Squeezed Gen Zers are moving in together or leaving big cities.

  • Some are getting creative: Manhattan transplant Piper Phillips shared a one-bedroom apartment with her boyfriend and a friend.
  • More are returning to their childhood bedrooms: The number of Americans aged 25–34 living at home has jumped over 87% in the past two decades, per census data.

What they're saying: "Everyone I know in the city has a roommate, or they live with a partner, but nobody just has a place to themselves," Brooklyn renter Liam Nee tells Axios.

  • The 25-year-old shares a two-bedroom apartment with a friend, while his girlfriend lives at home with family to save up for an apartment of their own.

Reality check: It's not just New York and California that are out of reach. Solo living is unaffordable in cities across the country, including the South, where rapid population growth in cities like Charlotte, North Carolina and Charleston, South Carolina could be contributing to higher rent prices, according to The Economist's Carrie Bradshaw index.

  • Nationally, 17.6% of renters lived alone in 2022, census data shows.

Between the lines: Senior living is expanding as America ages.

  • Yes, but: Boomers are still snapping up homes. The typical repeat homebuyer this year was 58, according to new data from the National Association of Realtors.

The intrigue: Apartment developers are courting younger empty-nesters, dangling prime locations, easy living and resort amenities.

  • More senior communities look like modern luxury apartments, with some sporting pet wash stations, private liquor lockers and yoga studios.
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