Renting in South Florida is no longer a lifestyle led by millennials who want to live in urban centers away from suburbs.
To the contrary, the number of renters in the region at least 55 years old grew much more than renters who are 34 and younger, according to apartment information provider Rent Café’s analysis of U.S. Census data from 2009 to 2015.
South Florida renters at least 55 years old increased 26 percent, close to the 28 percent national average, according to Rent Café.
Notably, young South Florida renters had the weakest increase — 2 percent, or a total of 3,346 — in the 20 largest U.S. metropolitan areas, the analysis showed. That excludes the Los Angeles region, the only one where younger renters actually declined.
Aztec Group Inc. managing director Peter Mekras in Miami said some South Florida developers were surprised when they began leasing their new buildings in recent years.
“The perspective was, ‘We are building for Gen Y. We are building for the younger generation,’ ” said Mekras, a real estate investment banker. “ To their great surprise, when they began leasing their apartments they observed it was actually baby boomers that are making up a very large percentage that are flocking to these apartments.”
Rent Café’s analysis doesn’t apply to all of South Florida. It excluded rural and most unincorporated areas and focused on the Kendall census area, 156 suburbs and nine cities: Miami, Miami Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Pompano Beach, West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Deerfield Beach, Delray Beach and Jupiter.
Rent Café real estate writer Nadia Balint said there are two reasons baby boomers are opting for apartments. It either is better financially or offers attractive amenities as opposed to house maintenance.
The changing face of tenants surprised her.
“We know that the millennials have been dubbed the renter population,” she said. “There’s a surge in older generations that are renting. That was definitely surprising.”
Mekras echoed Balint’s reasoning that baby boomers are seeking more amenities, and apartments are providing them.
“When people joke around that 60 is the new 40 … I think that’s accurate. I think people who are in their 50s and 60s and even 70s are very active, and a lot of the apartments that are built today cater to that lifestyle,” he said. “They are in locations that have very strong retail amenities and a design so that the apartment residents are engaged and interact with each other.”
Rent Café analyzed other demographics in the same time frame and found more support for boomer renters.
Tenants with college degrees and no minor children experienced the highest growth, the analysis showed.
South Florida renters who have at least a bachelor’s degree increased 30 percent, more than the 23 percent increase of renters who have some college education and the 4 percent increase of renters who have an education level of high school or less.
Renting in the suburbs has gained steam across the U.S. even though there’s a growing push for live-work-play areas that are more reminiscent of a city than a suburb.
South Florida renters with no children increased 25 percent in the suburbs and 15 percent in urban areas, the study found.
The suburban growth was no surprise for Mekras.
“What is categorized as suburban today ironically may be located in an urban node in a suburban neighborhood,” he said. “When people say urban they think high-rises and big office buildings.” Instead, he suggested thinking about the Dadeland Mall area where about six residential projects either have been completed or are under construction.
The Overture Dadeland project to rise at 7400 SW 88th St. dubs itself as an innovative 55-and-older rental community.
“Who would have thought that where Dadeland is today would be an urban center?” Mekras asked. “The amount of residential has really created an urban growth.”