Baby Boomers 2.0, Real Estate, and Trends, Oh My!

A recent survey prepared for the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), which was released within the past few weeks, concludes that one in four baby boomer households expects to move from their current home in the future. This really shouldn’t be big news to people, but the question of where these people move and into what should definitely be something that our society is considering.

In the past, baby boomer families who could afford to move would likely head to  warmer climates…thus the growth of retirement communities in our more southern states. Today, most boomers say that they would like to stay in their current homes, but will probably make a move to a more convenient living style – which translates in 59% of the cases to one level living.

Today’s baby boomers are not so quick to take off for say Ft. Lauderdale retirement homes, or the Gulf shore condos. Instead, some are staying in their current communities (just moving to apartments or one-level homes), while others are making new homes in areas of the country that have not been previously identified as popular retirement areas. These include places as varied as Vermont, Colorado, Montana, Oregon and Washington State. Besides one level living, baby boomers also indicate that they’d like to live in a newer home and/or a smaller home. And, of special importance to today’s boomers is proximity to family (usually meaning children and grandchildren).

Preferences and expectations of baby boomers do vary according to both age and gender. The report says that older boomers are significantly more likely than younger boomers to think that they will move into a single level home; men are more likely than women to believe they will move into a newer home or move into a home in a warmer or better climate; and women are more likely to think they will downsize.

“While boomers will reflect the patterns of earlier generations and mostly age in place,” said Elinor Ginzler, Senior Vice President of AARP, “the sheer number of boomers will increase demand for a whole variety of home and community options.”

Since the number of persons age 65 and older is expected grow to 70 million by 2030, this begs the question of what designers, builders and communities are doing to prepare for the living situations that will be in demand.

The answer in the close-in Washington Metropolitan Area seems to be that not much – outside of some condo communities – is being prepared for this rapidly approaching need. In this particular area, many baby boomer families are affluent, so money is not the issue. Instead, it appears to be a lack of planning/commitment on the part of builders, community leaders, planners and investors. Not all of these boomers want to downsize to a condo (and, even if they did, finding an adequately sized condo is no small trick) and many would probably greatly appreciate a one-level home on a small lot with a two car garage within walking distance of Bethesda, Friendship Heights, Chevy Chase or Kensington. But no such community exists and, instead, any “available” land is quickly grabbed for high rise development or single family McMansions. It would take some thought and commitment, but our close-in neighborhoods would allow for appropriate “boomer retirement pads” that would surely be in high demand.

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