15 U.S. Cities With the Most High-Density Housing

Baltimore, Maryland
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Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on Construction Coverage.

High-density housing can provide a number of important benefits to communities and the residents who live there. All else being equal, research suggests that residents in high-density communities tend to be more physically active and healthy.

Their costs for utilities and transportation tend to be lower, and as a result, high-density communities may also be more environmentally sustainable as well. Higher concentrations of people also allow local governments to more efficiently support services and infrastructure. And in areas where demand for housing exceeds supply, greater density may help alleviate issues with affordability.

But despite the arguments in favor of density, high-density residential construction is not the norm in the United States. Despite the benefits of higher-density communities, Americans generally prefer the opposite, with nearly 90% of homebuyers saying they would rather live in a single-family home than a higher-density structure.

To determine the locations with the most people living in high-density housing, researchers at Construction Coverage calculated the proportion of all housing units that are in high-density structures. The data used in this analysis is from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

High-density was defined as structures with five housing units or more. Researchers also calculated the share of owner- and renter-occupied housing in high-density structures.

Here are the cities with the most people living in high-density housing.

15. San Diego, CA

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  • Share of housing that is high-density: 37.3%
  • Share of owner housing that is high-density: 12.5%
  • Share of renter housing that is high-density: 58.8%
  • Total high-density housing units: 191,090
  • Total housing units: 512,530

14. Austin, TX

Austin, Texas
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  • Share of housing that is high-density: 39.4%
  • Share of owner housing that is high-density: 5.0%
  • Share of renter housing that is high-density: 67.0%
  • Total high-density housing units: 161,685
  • Total housing units: 409,903

13. Minneapolis, MN

Apartments in Minneapolis, Minnesota
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  • Share of housing that is high-density: 41.6%
  • Share of owner housing that is high-density: 11.6%
  • Share of renter housing that is high-density: 67.8%
  • Total high-density housing units: 75,621
  • Total housing units: 181,833

12. Denver, CO

Denver, Colorado
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  • Share of housing that is high-density: 41.8%
  • Share of owner housing that is high-density: 14.4%
  • Share of renter housing that is high-density: 69.1%
  • Total high-density housing units: 133,191
  • Total housing units: 318,445

11. Chicago, IL

Chicago, Illinois
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  • Share of housing that is high-density: 42.0%
  • Share of owner housing that is high-density: 25.1%
  • Share of renter housing that is high-density: 55.4%
  • Total high-density housing units: 453,883
  • Total housing units: 1,080,345

10. Houston, TX

Houston, Texas
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of housing that is high-density: 44.2%
  • Share of owner housing that is high-density: 5.1%
  • Share of renter housing that is high-density: 70.7%
  • Total high-density housing units: 387,650
  • Total housing units: 876,504

9. Boston, MA

Boston
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  • Share of housing that is high-density: 44.9%
  • Share of owner housing that is high-density: 24.7%
  • Share of renter housing that is high-density: 55.7%
  • Total high-density housing units: 122,024
  • Total housing units: 271,553

8. Dallas, TX

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  • Share of housing that is high-density: 45.8%
  • Share of owner housing that is high-density: 6.5%
  • Share of renter housing that is high-density: 72.7%
  • Total high-density housing units: 237,596
  • Total housing units: 518,998

7. Los Angeles, CA

Highway traffic in Los Angeles, California
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of housing that is high-density: 47.2%
  • Share of owner housing that is high-density: 11.3%
  • Share of renter housing that is high-density: 67.9%
  • Total high-density housing units: 660,197
  • Total housing units: 1,398,900

6. San Francisco, CA

San Francisco, California
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  • Share of housing that is high-density: 47.8%
  • Share of owner housing that is high-density: 17.9%
  • Share of renter housing that is high-density: 65.4%
  • Total high-density housing units: 174,716
  • Total housing units: 365,851

5. Seattle, WA

Seattle
Albert Pegp / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of housing that is high-density: 47.9%
  • Share of owner housing that is high-density: 14.7%
  • Share of renter housing that is high-density: 73.8%
  • Total high-density housing units: 164,814
  • Total housing units: 343,988

4. Atlanta, GA

Atlanta, Georgia, Piedmont Park skyline autumn
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of housing that is high-density: 49.9%
  • Share of owner housing that is high-density: 24.1%
  • Share of renter housing that is high-density: 72.5%
  • Total high-density housing units: 111,737
  • Total housing units: 223,736

3. Washington, D.C.

Washington D.C.
f11photo / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of housing that is high-density: 53.9%
  • Share of owner housing that is high-density: 24.6%
  • Share of renter housing that is high-density: 74.7%
  • Total high-density housing units: 157,237
  • Total housing units: 291,570

2. Miami, FL

Miami, Florida
GagliardiImages / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of housing that is high-density: 56.4%
  • Share of owner housing that is high-density: 28.3%
  • Share of renter housing that is high-density: 68.2%
  • Total high-density housing units: 106,629
  • Total housing units: 189,084

1. New York, NY

New York City coastline
IM_photo / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of housing that is high-density: 62.0%
  • Share of owner housing that is high-density: 33.4%
  • Share of renter housing that is high-density: 75.4%
  • Total high-density housing units: 1,992,401
  • Total housing units: 3,211,033

Methodology

A man studies financial data at his computer
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The data used in this analysis is from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey. To determine the locations with the most people living in high-density housing, researchers calculated the proportion of all housing units that are in high-density structures. High-density was defined to be structures with five housing units or more. In the event of a tie, researchers considered the share of owner- and renter-occupied housing in high-density structures. To improve relevance, only cities with at least 100,000 residents were included. Additionally, cities were grouped into cohorts based on population size: small (100,000–149,999), midsize (150,000–349,999), and large (350,000 or more).

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