Published on November 12, 2018
The 5 U.S. cities with the highest percentage of rentersPhoto: Patrick Perkins/Unsplash

Purchasing a home is no longer a mark of adulthood for many in the U.S., with renters outnumbering homeowners in a growing number of big cities, according to an analysis by RentCafe. The reasons are varied, but a high cost of living, stagnant wage growth and a limited supply of affordable housing all play a part.  

Additionally, many millennials are forgoing the traditional pursuit of homeownership in order to follow other aspirations like higher education, travel and early retirement.

Here are the five U.S. cities that are home to the highest share of renters in the country, as of 2016:

1. Newark, New Jersey

Newark City Hall. | Photo: Ameer W./Yelp

It should come as no surprise that this New Jersey city has one of the highest percentages of renters in the United States. It’s close enough for commuters to travel into New York City each day, but far enough from the action that rent is slightly cheaper than some of the other cities on the list.

That’s not to say that the 74 percent of residents who opt to rent are all commuting into New York City for work. There are several major U.S. companies that are headquartered in Newark, providing plenty of job opportunities to those who live in and around the state's most populous city.

The sprawling city offers everything from single-family homes in working-class and middle-class neighborhoods to high-rise luxury apartments downtown, making the location appealing for both families and young professionals.  

2. Jersey City, New Jersey

View of Goldman Sachs Tower and downtown Jersey City. | Photo: Vanessa V./Yelp

Many Americans are leaving major cities in favor of smaller ones, the Atlantic reports. But Jersey City—also located within easy commuting distance of NYC—is holding strong as New Jersey's second-largest city, with more than 70 percent of residents renting their homes. 

Sharing public transit and infrastructure with neighboring New York City, it makes it easy for those who are priced out of Manhattan real estate to live close to where they work. The bustling metropolis is also home to two universities and several major companies including Jackson Hewitt, Forbes and Goya Foods. The city has a thriving arts and culture community, giving residents even more reasons to want to live and work in the region. 

3. Miami, Florida

Photo: aurora.kreativ/Unsplash

Although bustling nightlife might be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of this southern Florida locale, Miami is actually known as the cruise capital of the world, with many cruise ships sailing out of the Port of Miami. Many residents of the city work in the lower-paying field of tourism and hospitality, which may be why 68 percent of the city's population is made up of renters.

The high cost of hurricane insurance required by homeowners throughout the state may also play a part in that decision, as the expense of carrying the insurance rider can add hundreds of dollars onto an already high monthly mortgage payment. Renters are able to bypass this insurance, as the property owners are the ones required to carry it. 

4. New York, New York

New York City at sunrise. | Photo: Ben o'bro/Unsplash

The most populated city in the country has 65 percent of its residents living in rental properties. With the well-known high cost of living and limited availability of affordable housing, it’s no surprise that many New Yorkers choose to rent instead of own.

It is not uncommon for the rental residents of the city to live with others, with the median rent for a one bedroom at $2,395. According to Curbed New York, 40 percent of adults living in the city are renting their home with another adult—which may help offset some of the costs of living in the city and make it more affordable for those who wish to get the NYC experience without the price tag of owning a home inside the city's limits.  

5. Boston, Massachusetts

Acorn Street in Boston's Beacon Hill neighborhood. | Photo: Michael Browning/Unsplash

An education hub, Boston is home to many colleges and universities. Sixty-four percent of Bostonians opt to rent, with millennials, boomers and students living off campus all jockeying for the limited housing stock.

Another city known for its high cost of living (the median cost for a one-bedroom apartment is $2,000), the picturesque capital of Massachusetts comes with a pretty big price tag for homeownership, too— the pricey Back Bay neighborhood has a median home value of $1,049,500, per Zillow.