Extreme renters: Young, well-paid people are choosing not to own anything

They rent everything — beds, workspaces, cars, bicycles, furniture — and live a self-imposed life of ultra-minimal ownership.


April 24, 2019

As NPR’s Sam Sanders reports, a small but growing number of 20-something professionals are shunning ownership altogether and turning to the sharing economy for all of their basic needs.

They rent everything — beds, workspaces, cars, bicycles, furniture — and live a life of self-imposed ultra-minimal ownership.

Who needs stuff?

Poised to grow to $335B by 2025 (a 20x increase), the sharing economy is trickling down into the granular cracks of capitalism: You can now rent everything from a vacuum cleaner to a dog.

As a result, some young professionals, like 27-year-old Steven Johnson, see no need to own anything.

Johnson uses Lyft and Uber instead of a car; a PodShare bunk bed in lieu of an apartment; a gym membership for fitness, laundry and showers; and WeWork to run his business. He owns only two outfits, which he rotates accordingly.

Material minimalist / digital hoarder

Though folks like Johnson rent by choice, many others use the sharing economy as a financial crutch. A rough housing market coupled with insane student loan debt has prompted some millennials to pare down — at least when it comes to material items.

“I talked to a lot of minimalists,” one researcher told NPR. “They own like 30 things, but … they hoard digitally. They have tons of photographs. They have thousands and thousands of Instagram posts.”

Nothing says minimalism like a WeWork insta-selfie.

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