Historically, rental housing has been depicted as starter housing for younger people, mainly in their 20s whose goal was to eventually own a home. Apartments were basically just temporary or transitional shelters and therefore had few amenities. The recent housing crash changed that as many, both young and old, turned to the rental market and now appear to be settling there.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau statistics, recently analyzed between 2009 and 2015, the rental rate of seniors aged 55 and over increased by 28 percent, and the age group 34 years or younger increased by 3 percent. Further analysis of the numbers shows that the highest increases were in renters with at least a bachelor degree (23 percent) and families without children in the household (21 percent). So, basically, higher educated empty-nesters seem to account for most of the increase in the rental market.
The report does not analyze the reasoning behind the increase in senior renters, but the recent housing crash likely had a big influence, along with the difficulty of finding an affordable home for downsizing. Apartments and rental housing also have an appeal with less maintenance and more amenities that seniors may find desirable by not having to maintain yards and homes. This was a bit of a surprise, as normally one would expect more of an increase in younger renters than baby boomers.