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Wealthy Americans Renting Homes Instead of Buying

FILE — Nationwide, more than 1.35 million households making at least $150,000 per year became renters between 2007 and 2017.
FILE — Nationwide, more than 1.35 million households making at least $150,000 per year became renters between 2007 and 2017.
Wealthy Americans Renting Homes Instead of Buying
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A study by the apartment search website RentCafe finds that more wealthy Americans are choosing to rent living spaces instead of buying them.

The study’s writer, Alexandra Ciuntu, collected information from the U.S. Census Bureau. She found that the number of U.S. households earning at least $150,000 a year that chose to rent increased 175 percent between 2007 and 2017.

This new kind of renter goes against the idea that Americans rent mostly because they do not have enough money to buy a home.

Ciuntu told VOA by email, "Lifestyle plays an important part in their decision to rent."

Business and technology centers like San Francisco, California, and Seattle, Washington, have the highest numbers of wealthy renters.

In San Francisco, the number of renters grew from 21,000 in 2007 to 71,400 in 2017. That is an increase of 240 percent. The number of wealthy buyers increased by 56 percent -- from 40,100 in 2007 to 62,400 in 2017.

Ciuntu says that, with the rise in housing prices, it seems like a better decision to rent than to buy.

She added, “In San Francisco, for example, $200,000 buys you just 260 square feet [24 square meters]. It's understandable why top earners give renting a serious try before deciding whether to invest in a property or not."

In San Francisco and New York City, wealthy renters outnumber wealthy buyers. There are more high-earning renters — about 250,000 — in New York City than anywhere else in the country.

But Ciuntu notes that the interest in renting does not mean wealthy Americans are rejecting homeownership. Between 2007 and 2017, Seattle gained 13,400 more wealthy home owners than it did high-income renters. Cities like Chicago and Denver also saw thousands more wealthy homeowners move in than wealthy renters during that 10-year period.

I’m Jonathan Evans.

Dora Mekouar reported this story for VOA News. Jonathan Evans adapted it for Learning English with additional content from the RentCafe blog. Ashley Thompson was the editor.


Words in This Story

lifestyle n. a particular way of living; the way a person lives or a group of people live

householdn. the people in a family or other group that are living together in one house