Lifestyle Market Insights

Generation Z: Most Techy, Research-Focused, Instagram-Loving Generation of Renters

The most culturally diverse and digital native age cohort, Generation Z, the oldest of whom are turning 24 this year, are the new must-watch generation in the housing market. Already a growing share of today’s renters, the little-known Gen Z’s accounted for 19% of respondents in a recent survey on rentcafe.com about renting preferences.

It’s time to pay attention to how Gen Z renting preferences differ from what older generations value. Perhaps as expected, their choices stem from the fact that they value technology more than any other generation. Embracing technology and social media as a way of living, these young adults seem to know exactly what they are looking for when it comes to renting an apartment, what they expect from their apartment communities, and how much they are willing to spend. Although they are budget conscious and still at the dawn of their earning years, Gen Z renters want the highest-quality apartments and rental communities that feature the most technologically-advanced features.

62% of Gen Z renters believe apartment technology is extremely and very important

One of the most important aspects for the youngest group of renters today is no doubt technology, which they value more than any previous generation. in fact, 62% of the Gen Z respondents to our survey indicated technology as being extremely or very important in their apartment and community. 28% of them said it was extremely important, more than any other generation, and 34% of them said it was very important, again, more than any other generation.

Gen Z respondents also reported that the most important feature to have in their apartment community was “high-speed internet”, which came in higher than all other features, including parking, gym, or laundry.

In their apartments, technologically advanced features like smart locks & thermostats, as well as energy-efficient appliances, were ranked as more important than extra space, such as an extra bedroom.

Their digital features of choice were online rent payments and maintenance requests (37%), followed by a mobile app for managing rent and maintenance (28%), which is consistent with the preferences of other generations of renters. However, what sets them apart is that Gen Z respondents were more interested in text rent payments than the other respondents.

Where can you find the Gen Z’s? On Instagram

For the first time ever, Instagram is the most used social media channel by a generation, and Gen Z’s are the ones to make that shift. As they indicated in our survey, 36% of Gen Z’s chose Instagram as their top media channel, followed by 17% who prefer Facebook. In fact, of all of the age groups that responded to our survey, they were the only ones that reported preferring Instagram over Facebook. All other generations are overwhelmingly Facebook users.

Generation Z uses Google search to find apartments more than any other generation

Google search is the number one channel to find apartments these days, but for Gen Z more so than for others. According to our survey, 39% of the youngest of renters start their apartment search on Google. Second in popularity are apartment search websites, like rentcafe.com, which 27% of Gen Z’s use as a starting point in their search, equal to the share of Millennials, but above the other generations.

Property ratings and reviews are the top decision factor for Gen Z-ers

When asked what research they do before choosing a rental property, the largest share of Gen Z’s (30%) selected property ratings and reviews. Moreover, they reported relying on property ratings and reviews more than any other previous generation. The second most important research tools were videos and virtual tours, which were selected by 24% of Gen Z respondents.

Although technology fans and experts when it comes to online and social media resources, in person tours are still important even for this cohort before deciding on an apartment to rent. In fact, 72% of them prefer touring apartments in person, whether that is with an agent or self-guided.

Affordable quality is the Gen Z mantra

It’s no surprise that price is important to young renters when choosing an apartment, as is for everyone, for that matter. However, the quality of the apartment is not something that Generation Z is eager to give up. In fact, of all of the age groups of renters, Gen Z-ers seem to care the most about the quality of apartment finishes and the quality of the building, more than any other generation.

While they do demonstrate maturity in realizing that they can’t afford to spend too much money on rent (yet), Gen Z’s are indicating that they aren’t willing to give up quality and know exactly what they’re looking for in their rental. Therefore, as their financial power grows in the coming years, we might expect a new type of renter to emerge: a tech-savvy, research-focused, and confident renter.

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About the author

Sanziana Bona

Sanziana Bona is a creative writer and researcher for RENTCafé, with a strong passion for the dynamic real estate market, covering topics from lifestyle to market trends. She has a B.A. in International Relations and Spanish from Michigan State University, a LL.M. in International Business Law, Contracting and International Relations from Instituto Superior de Derecho y Economía. You can connect with Sanziana via email.

Sanziana’s work has been featured in CNBC, CBS News, NBC New York, The Press Democrat, Wolf Street and The Registry San Francisco, among others. Prior to joining the RENTCafé team, she wrote extensive analysis papers on world topics such as human rights violations, international laws, and world conflicts, as well as arts literature, in both English and Spanish.

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