Grand Rapids has a very low vacancy rate for its rental housing. It has, in fact, the lowest vacancy rate in the nation -- 1.6 percent -- for a number of reasons. As a result of the housing meltdown and the Great Recession, many Americans have damaged credit and cannot qualify for a mortgage or, having lost their homes, do not want to invest in home ownership again. Also pushed into the renters’ market are young college graduates. A generation or two ago, young professionals would have been looking for houses to purchase, but now they are burdened with student loan debt or have relocated to find work and don’t want to explore longer-term options.
Grand Rapids also has a number of colleges, including Grand Valley State University and Grand Rapids Community College, both of which are located downtown where demand for housing is already high. Additionally, while Americans in the latter part of the 20th century were eager to move out of the city and to the suburbs, that trend is reversing as younger people struggle to afford cars and pay for gas on stagnant wages and with fewer job opportunities. As restaurants, breweries, farmer’s markets, sports and cultural venues continue to multiply in Grand Rapids, people of all ages want to be on hand to enjoy them.