Home Insight - Property Value and Home Price Check
Retirement Living: Trends and Popular Locations
Written by: Lankarge/Nahorney for HomeInsight

Post World War II, the trend in housing has largely been stayed the same. 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.

Retirement Housing Trends
  • 59% of younger Boomers (ages 41-49) and 50% of older Boomers (ages 50-59) indicate they plan to buy a new home for their retirement.

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

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

  • Nearly half (47%) of all respondents (ages 41-69) who will move say staying within three hours of family would be an important consideration about where to relocate for retirement.

  • Among those willing to move to a different state, the most-preferred states to move to for retirement, by age group, are: Ages 41-49, North Carolina (14%); ages 50-59 and 60-69, Florida (18% and 17%, respectively).

Source: Del Webb Baby Boomer Survey
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 and beyond. Even if money isn't an issue, many post-50 empty nesters are deliberately opting for smaller homes purely for the comfort and ease of maintenance that accompanies them. 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."

Today, retirement home buyers want open, airy living areas that seamlessly blend together. 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 will satisfy their desire for color and greenery without the intensive labor demands of a large yard.

Post-50 empty nesters are also driving a trend towards bathrooms that feature two-seater showers with benches. The advantage is that older homeowners find them easier and safer to get into and out of. This is a trend that is sure to accelerate because every 7 seconds a new Baby Boomer turns 50, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics. This phenomenon is not slated to slow down until 2010.

Where Are Retirees Relocating?

According to the 2005 Del Webb Baby Boomer Survey, nearly half (47%) of all respondents indicate that moving no more than three hours away from family is an important consideration in the location of their retirement home. The most 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 very active prefer to relocate primarily for the lifestyle of their new community. Uppermost on their short lists 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
Top Ten Retirement Places
Here are the top ten retirement communities. Click on a community below to find out the median selling price of homes in these locations.

lifestyle but wearied of the crowds and high prices. Other post-50 empty nesters are choosing to purchase vacation homes in locations to which they may like to 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 looking at post-50 relocation possibilities, the AARP says there are several important factors to consider:

  • Availability of jobs. Because many post-50 empty nesters will work beyond age 65, it's important to investigate the job market in the communities to which you're thinking of relocating.

  • 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? View the crime statistics in the communities to which you're thinking of relocating.

  • Colleges or universities. Post-50 empty nesters say they are looking for educational opportunities and they enjoy a vibrant community with folks of all ages. See which colleges or universities are located near the communities you are considering.

  • Proximity to comprehensive, well-regarded health care facilities. Quality health care is important everyone, but particularly to retirees as they age. See which hospitals and health care facilities are located in the communities to which you're thinking of relocating.