Baby Boomers Reject Elderly Stereotyping in Housing Choices
It’s slightly depressing, but it’s a reality, nevertheless. The eldest of Baby Boom generation has hit the ’60’ mark. The largest demographic group in the country – those born between 1946 and 1964, are certainly growing older, but – contrary to what many twenty somethings seem to think – act and appear anything but old and feeble, as a whole. In fact, Boomers (as they’re sometimes called) represent a widely-diverse group of adults in the way they think, and especially, the way they live. Many of them even mimic twenty somethings or thirty somethings when it comes to tastes in fashion, cars, and music, for example
In addition, the sheer spending power of this enormous faction of American society (estimated to hover around $2.1 trillion annually) certainly can’t be denied. And the fact that Boomers currently represent about 26.3 percent of the nation’s total population definitely hasn’t escaped the attention of the real estate community.
Home builders and developers, in particular, have stepped up their efforts to cater to the mighty boomers. They recognize that the eldest baby boomers are approaching retirement age, and that they demand more choices when choosing the home in which they will spend their retirement years. The want to have more options than their parents or grandparents had available to them.
In response to this demand, restricted-age communities — comprised of luxury homes — are springing up rapidly. So-call “active adult” subdivisions would also fall into this category. Many of them feature community centers, and activities which belie the notion that boomers are “over-the-hill” and content to just drift through each day in a rocking chair after retiring. Internet cafes, coffee hang-outs, aerobic classes, fitness centers, hiking trails, and entertainment, such as live theatre and weekend concerts – concerts featuring – dare, we say it – rock ‘n’ roll bands, are commonplace.
Developers catering to Baby Boomers also provide them with a host of amenities to make their lives more carefree – almost as a type of reward for having achieved a certain status in life. Beauty salons, restaurants, 24-hour security, valet parking, and concierge service are distinctive “touches” found in many of these communities.
Above all, Boomers abhor the thought of feeling elderly, and are equally adamant in their disdain for anyone who views them as being decrepit. Likewise, they certainly don’t want to perceive their homes or communities as places designed for the elderly. They long for a sense of community, and expect their retirement digs to be part of a very social and vibrant atmosphere.
And as far as the Baby Boomers who are opting for more traditional housing, an interesting trend is developing. Many of them are snatching up second homes like crazy, especially the Boomers between the ages of 45 and 54, who represent the country’s largest group of homeowners who own vacation homes. For the time being, they are using these homes as vacation retreats, but with the intention of converting them into their primary homes upon reaching retirement age. At that point in time, they plan to sell their current residences and using those profits to pay off the mortgages of their second homes.
Interestingly enough, Boomers are purchasing second homes (their future retirement homes) that are relatively close to their current homes – oftentimes, just beyond the suburbs where they’ve dwelled for the past few decades. This represents a complete reversal of the scenario many of their parents followed upon retiring, whereby they sold their homes and headed straight for retirement havens in Florida or Arizona.
And as more that 76 million Boomers who are entering their “empty nest” years – whereby, their children have grown up and moved out – search for that dream second home, it would be wise for sellers and home builders trying to attract this market segment to heed their wants and needs.
Some of the things surveyors have discovered as far as which amenities are particularly significant to Baby Boomers in this market:
- Smaller is better: Boomers are looking to downsize to smaller homes. Those with open floor plans — dominated by a master bedroom, bathroom suite and laundry room on the first floor and guest bedrooms and bathroom on the second floor — is typical of the type of house which appeals to many Boomers.
- Wider hallways
- Non-slip flooring
- Bathroom: Larger is better – Boomers desire more luxurious, more spacious master bathrooms, now that their kids are gone. Key amenities include dual-sink vanities, dual shower systems, a whirlpool, bathroom grab bars, skylight, heated tile floor, and a TV/VCR/Stereo entertainment system.
- Workshop/Studio: Can also be used to display art pieces.
- Walk-in closets
- State-of-the-art kitchen