Who rents vs. who buys: San Francisco and LA among top ‘renter’ cities

Ah, the quandary: to own or to rent.

A new report from Abodo, an apartment listing website, sorts out where Americans stand on the issue. It finds that only 21 of 400 large metropolitan areas across the U.S. fall into the “renter majority” category, with 50 percent or more households leasing rather than owning.

Based on U.S. Census data — and limited to metros with populations of 100,000 or more — the study (titled “Where Renting Trumps Owning”) shows that five of the 21 are in California. The Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim metro is No. 4 on the list (with 53.9 percent renters), while the San Francisco-Oakland metro is No. 16 (50.9 percent).

The other California metros on the list are Merced (53.3 percent), Santa Barbara (53.3 percent) and Salinas (53.2 percent).

San Jose ranks 48th among the 400 metros, with 44.7 percent of households identifying as renters. It is one of 206 metros where at least 33 percent of households fall into the renting category.

The number of “renter majority” metros “appears to be poised to grow,” the report says, as households have been swapping deeds for leases at a significant rate. In 2011, “three million made the switch… compared with 2.5 million in 2001.”

Abodo reports that there were only 14 “renter majority” metros in 2012. In 2013, the number jumped to 18. The current crop of 21 should soon tip higher as “six cities are currently barely missing the majority-renter cut, with more than 49 percent of the population renting. Among them, Durham, NC; Lubbock, TX; and San Diego, CA, seem most likely to move into renter-majority status, with renter numbers rising each year.”

For all you completists, here are a few more metros: Stockton (49.2 percent); Fresno (49.0 percent); Santa Rosa (45.3 percent); Santa Cruz (44.6 percent); Sacramento (43.2 percent) and Modesto (42.9 percent).

Numerous of the nation’s major metros are top-heavy with homeowners. They include Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Philadelphia, Miami and Washington, D.C.

And where do renters and homeowners fall age-wise? Abodo reports: “The majority of renters in our list of 21 renter-dominated cities are under 44 years old, with the highest percentage (24.29 percent) falling between the ages of 25 and 34. Owners tend to be older — a whopping 77.16 percent of them are over 45.”

You can read the full report here.

Photo at top:  A street sign hangs outside a new apartment building on Mission Street in San Francisco in 2015. (Eric Risberg/AP)



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  • hoapres

    I used to say that you need to make $100K but am starting to change that to $125K a yea to live in the Bay Area.

  • hoapres

    This is what happens when you let the tech industry get the ability to bring in an almost unlimited supply of cheap foreign labor.

    Americans can’t afford to live in Silicon Valley.

    If that sounds simplistic then well it is because it is that simple.