Switzerland, Germany and Austria have the highest proportion of people renting a home rather than buying, accounting for over 45% of their populations, a new report shows.

At the other end of the spectrum, in Croatia, Macedonia and Romania less than 10% of the population rent, according to the research from real estate firm Savills.

Switzerland is the only country where more people rent than buy, with almost 60% doing so, while in Germany it is almost 50% and in Austria it is just over 45% while in Turkey and Denmark it is just under 40%.

The UK, France, the Netherlands and Australia all have just over 30% in the rental sector while Ireland, Sweden, Belgium, Finland, Italy, Cyprus and Portugal are just under 30%.

Although percentages can vary from country to country, overall in Europe, for example, just 30.6% of the population live in rented accommodation. Savills says that this variation is down to a number of factors including the local economy, housing finance availability and Government policy but, perhaps the most interesting, is the difference in attitude towards renting.

In Germany, renting is the norm and the sector has a good supply of high quality rental accommodation and favourable tenant conditions. By comparison, many of the countries with high levels of home ownership are in former communist nations where the rapid privatisation of public rental housing in the 1990s resulted in high home ownership rates.

In some major cities, the report suggests, attitudes are shifting, as younger generations are willing to rent for longer in more desirable, central locations close to work and amenities rather than buy a property on the outskirts of a city.

Also, global cities, such as London, New York, Sydney and Melbourne, have seen very high levels of price growth over the past decade, often pricing the younger generations out of home ownership or delaying it.

In London and New York 50% of households are rented accommodation while in Sydney it is around 34% and in Melbourne 30%.

The report suggests that numbers could grow. The popular long term rental model, called multi-family in the US and Build to Rent in the UK, is beginning to gain interest in other nations, most notably Australia.

• Propertywire