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10 Things to Know About Generational Housing Preferences

June 2021

Differences in opinions, perspectives and preferences exist from generation to generation, and these variations are to be expected where it concerns ideal housing arrangements. The following are 10 key findings from a recent survey conducted by Satisfacts/ApartmentRatings for NAA in November/December 2020 on multigenerational renters, intended to uncover what people are looking for when deciding where to live and whether these choices are unique to the different generations.

1. When talking about location preferences, suburbs within a walkable distance to amenities appeal the most to college-enrolled Gen Zers and Millennials when compared to alternatives. The survey results support the notion that there has been a shift among the younger generations toward suburban housing, which may have been accelerated due to COVID-19 disruptions.

2.The time preference for renting an apartment remains consistent across all cohorts. The majority of respondents in each cohort indicated that they plan to rent an apartment for 1-2 more years.

3. For both the younger and older generations, community amenities including guaranteed parking and a Wi-Fi-enabled community ranked the highest among each cohort. Eighty to 90% of respondents reported that these community amenities have the most significant impact when it comes to deciding on where to rent. As people today are using their apartment homes to work, study and play, the desire for a Wi-Fi-enabled community is increasingly valuable.

4. When asked about property type preferences post-graduation, the preference for renting a single-family, detached home resonates strongest among Gen Z and Millennials respondents over all other property types. 

5. When making rental decisions, an average of 95% of renters among all generations agree that a spacious floor plan is at the top of their list for desired in-unit amenities. Interior features such as a washer/dryer, walk-in closets, balconies and hardwood floors also ranked highly as key determinants in renters’ decision-making.

6. More than 60% of all survey participants recognized flexibility as a benefit to renting an apartment home as opposed to owning a home. Homeownership is a long-term commitment that many may not want to undertake. For Gen Z and Millennial renters, the preference for flexibility may be due to uncertainty when it comes to career, finances or family planning, among other considerations.

7. Along with the privacy and financial confidence afforded by homeownership, respondents of every age group agree that owning a home provides more control over your life. This finding is consistent with the overwhelming portion (over 85%) of respondents in each cohort who expressed that renting would mean having to live by the owner’s rules.

8. Based on individuals with a bachelor’s degree or higher, the most educated group appears to be Millennials at 62%. Gen X, Baby Boomers and Gen Z follow behind at 53%, 51% and 35%, respectively. The reason for Gen Z lagging the others may be attributed to the fact that a higher concentration (28%) of the cohort is currently still enrolled in college.

9. The top factor for choosing their next location for Gen Zers, Millennials and Gen Xers is the proximity of their apartment to their place of work or school. As for Baby Boomers who are likely to be near retirement or already retired, proximity to entertainment is the most important location factor influencing their rental decisions. 

10. The survey revealed that the median rent payment each month falls in the range of $1,000-$1,249 among all cohorts. Overall, older generations tend to pay higher rents than younger generations. Renters paying more than $1,750 stands at 17% for Baby Boomers and 15% for Gen X. In contrast, only 6% of Gen Z and 8% of Millennial renters pay over $1,750 monthly.

Visit for more insight from the NAA/SatisFacts/ApartmentRatings Survey.


Rahimat Emozozo is the Research Assistant for NAA,reachable at [email protected].