“Baby Boomers,” defined as people who were born between 1946-1964, are the wealthiest generation to ever retire, as well as the largest. According to U.S. Census Bureau projections, the population of people 65 and older will increase by 36% between 2013-2023 and is expected to outnumber children by 2034 — for the first time in U.S. history.
Interestingly, in the decade since the Great Recession,people aged 50-59 are increasingly bucking tradition and moving to urban areas. As Boomers retire en masse, they are headed for major cities, favoring amenities-loaded condos over large single-family homes with manicured lawns. What is responsible for this change in older adults?
Home Maintenance Considerations
One of the largest factors causing boomers to migrate to cities is home maintenance. Once adult children are out of the home, many people downsize into more manageable houses. Larger suburban homes take a lot of work between routine home maintenance, not to mention larger emergency repairs.
It makes sense then, that people 55 and older accounted for the largest increase in the rental home segment from 2007-2017, with a 38% rise in those older than 55 and a 43% increase in people older than 65. In stark contrast, the increase in rentals in people aged 54 and under in the same time period was less than 10%.
Another thing responsible for older adults moving away from the suburbs and into more urban areas is the abundance of amenities large cities can offer them. Exceptionally walkable cities such as those where universities are located tend to cluster upscale condos and apartments near major shopping outlets and public transportation lines, as well as a multitude of options for shopping, dining, cultural experiences, and medical services.
Cities like Lawrence, Kansas and Bloomington, Indiana have taken note of the trend — and the fact that boomers have about 70% of all disposable income in the United States — and have taken steps to lure retirees in, offering recreation opportunities specific to seniors and making public transportation and preventive healthcare more accessible.
This trend of boomers moving back into large cities, while fascinating, makes perfect sense and is expected to continue for the foreseeable future as cities make themselves more and more appealing, as well as accessible.