Gen Z Renters Drawn to Vibrant Smaller Towns over Urban Centers

Unlike their millennial peers, Gen Z renters seem to favor vibrant small towns concentrated in America’s heartland, far from the ubiquitous coastal cities, according to a new study from RentCafe.

“Younger people are willing to trade off living in a crowded, bustling city for having more space at home. Many of these heartland places are also much closer to their hometowns, too, enabling a tighter intergenerational connection, which is more valued among younger adults today than with Gen X,” said Jill Ann Harrison, Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Sociology, University of Oregon, in the release.

According to the most recent national apartment-application data, the share of Gen Z renters jumped by 36 percent in 2020 compared to the prior year. At the same time, the number of apartment applicants from every other generation decreased. And, “some cities saw spectacular increases in rental applications from the youngest generation to enter apartment life.”

“With the ongoing shift towards remote work, Gen Z may become the poster child for economic revival in the heartland if they’ll be able to work from home after the pandemic,” RentCafe says in the study.

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