Gen Z and millennial renters are flocking back to cities like New York and San Francisco, according to new data from RentCafe. 

Renting activity is officially back to pre-pandemic levels, registering a 13% increase in the first half of 2021 year-over-year.  About 45% more renters applied for apartments in March than in Februarya big jump, especially when compared with figures from the same time in 2018 and 2019, when applications rose just 23% on average. 

And two groups of renters are behind the uptick, according to RentCafe: “Zoomers,” who accounted for 39% of the increase in apartment applications, and renters earning more than $100,000. 

New York City posted double the rental activity as last year, with San Francisco shortly behind it, and the biggest spike in rental activity came from Gen Z. Overall, rental activity in the 30 largest US cities was 2020 levels. 

“The youngest renter generation now makes up 27% of the nation’s apartment hunters and is also the only renter age group that’s growing in share,” the report notes. “Millennials are the largest segment of active renters (45%), but their share decreased 8% since last year. In fact, all generations of renters lost shares to Gen Z, the oldest of whom are turning 24 this year.”

High-income renters are also driving activity: 33% more renters who earn between $75,000 and $100,000, as well as 34% more renters who earn over $100,000 moved during the first half of 2021 versus the same period in 2020. Millennials account for half the apartment hunters earning more than $100,000.

“In this case, the need for larger, better living spaces to accommodate working from home and a more comfortable lifestyle were the primary reasons that renters began searching for a new place,” the report states. “Notably, the highly competitive real estate market may also be a factor for some high-earners who are holding off buying in favor of renting.”