Retirement Living: Trends and Popular Locations

Retirement Housing Trends

►59% of younger Boomers (ages 41-49) and 50% of older Boomers (ages 50-59) plan to buy a new home for their retirement.

►36% of younger Boomers and 49% of older Boomers who move plan to downsize their home in retirement.

►Of Boomers willing to move at retirement, 66% of older Boomers would move for a better community lifestyle, and 54% would seek a warmer climate.

►Nearly half (47%) of all respondents (ages 41-69) who move say staying within three hours of family is an important consideration about where to relocate.

►Among those willing to move to a different state, the most-preferred states, by age group, are:

Ages 41-49: North Carolina (14%)

Ages 50-59: Florida (18%)

Ages 60-69: Florida (17%)


         Source: Del Webb Baby Boomer Survey

The trend in housing has largely been the same since World War II. As our prosperity grew, so did the size of our homes. Two bedroom homes in the 1940s grew into three, four, and five bedroom homes as the Baby Boom began, took root, and flourished. Extra rooms multiplied along with the families. “Rumpus” rooms, dens, and “Great” rooms appeared along with mud rooms, coat rooms, alcoves, and grand entryways.

But a revolution in home size is underway, particularly for over-50 empty-nesters. They are certainly conscious ─ if not downright worried ─ about the spiraling costs of living including health care, as the average lifespan stretches into the mid-70s. Even if money isn’t an issue, many post-50 empty-nesters are opting for smaller homes purely for comfort and ease of maintenance. Irrelevant rooms are gone. Space saved from cutting out third and fourth bedrooms, grand entrances, and formal dining rooms is redistributed so that there a fewer rooms, but they are larger and infinitely more “livable.”

Retired homebuyers want open, airy living areas that seamlessly blend. High marks are given to homes that feature a large kitchen that is open on one or more sides to an informal dining area and a casual living room. Also favored are homes with fluid kitchen/dining/living areas that open onto patios or decks. While post-50 empty-nesters love to garden, they are still active enough that they have better things to do with their time than mow lawns and weed flower beds. A patio or deck filled with blooming terra cotta pots satisfies their desire for color and greenery without the intensive labor demands of a large yard.

Post-50 empty-nesters are also driving a trend toward bathrooms that feature two-seater showers with benches. Older homeowners find them easier and safer to use. This trend is sure to accelerate because, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, every seven seconds a Baby Boomer turns 50. This phenomenon won’t slow down until 2010.

Top Ten Retirement Places

The communities below are retirement hot spots:

►Fort Collins-Loveland, CO

►Charleston Sea Islands, SC

►Henderson-Boulder City, NV

►Wickenburg, AZ

►St. George-Zion, UT

►Boca Raton, FL.

►Scottsdale, AZ

►Tucson, AZ

►Prescott-Prescott Valley, AZ

►Fort Myers-Cape Coral, FL

Source:Retirement Places Rated, compiled by David Savageau.

Where Are Retirees Relocating?

According to the 2005 Del Webb Baby Boomer Survey, nearly half (47%) of  respondents indicate that moving no more than three hours away from family is an important consideration in the location of their retirement home. The preferred states among those considering a move are mainly warm states, with Florida (14%) and Arizona (12%) topping the list, followed by North Carolina (10%), California (8%) and Texas (5%).Many retirees who are still active prefer to relocate primarily for lifestyle. Highest on their shortlists of retirement communities are those that offer a variety of cultural and recreational options. According to the AARP, this is particularly true of states that comprise the “New West” ─ Colorado, Washington, Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming. These states appeal to long-time Californians (although plenty of others are making the move) who loved the Golden State lifestyle but wearied of the crowds and high prices. Other post-50 empty-nesters choose to purchase vacation homes in locations where they may live permanently. Hot spots include the Fort Collins-Loveland area of Colorado, as well as West Virginia, Tennessee, and Arkansas.

Criteria for Post-50 Relocation

When considering post-50 relocation, the AARP notes several important factors to consider:► Availability of jobs.  Because many post-50 empty nesters work beyond age 65, it’s important to investigate the job market in each community.

Affordable housing.  Price-conscious individuals look for cities with costs on par with or below the national median price of $161,600.

Culture. entertainment, and recreation. Where are the major shopping centers? Museums? Concert halls and sporting arenas? Is there easy access to outdoor recreation?

Safety. How safe are people and property in the communities you are considering?

Colleges or universities.  Post-50 empty-nesters look for educational opportunities and enjoy a vibrant community with folks of all ages.

Proximity to comprehensive, well-regarded health care facilities. Quality health care is important everyone, but particularly to retirees.