For many baby boomers, a home where they can age in place is a key issue. It is a generation that is 75 million strong and growing a little older by the day and it is the largest generation to ever retire … when they finally decide to.
And right behind the baby boomers are 65 million Gen-Xers, with the oldest now in their 50s. Living with their children may not be an option. Often the grandchildren, who are millennials, aren’t moving out.
Compounding the problem is housing prices that continue to rise in desirable areas, which can create challenges when downsizing on a fixed income. Boomers want to be independent for as long as they can and they are seeking a universal design that allows flexibility. They may install rail, hands-free faucets and additional bathroom conversions when needed.
Realtor.com recently completed a research study to determine the best metro areas for middle-ages who may be moving toward retirement. Jana Lynott, senior policy adviser on livable communities for AARP, noted boomers aren’t your usual retirees.
“Our current generation of boomers don’t want to do those for-old people things. We encourage [people to consider] neighborhoods where you can walk to a variety of services you access on a daily basis, like banks, public transportation, shopping, restaurants.”
Realtor.com looked at a number of factors as it determined the best places to age in place, examining the 300 largest metros and evaluating them for affordability and health services, and then made sure these were locations people would really want to spend their golden years. Wanting a diverse list, it limited entrants to one per state.
The criteria included the number of homes already adapted for seniors; percentage of residents older than 65; low cost of living; number of home health aides per senior; number of hospitals per capita; number of senior centers per capita; number of sunny days; number of golf courses per capita; and the number of singles over the age of 55
You will be surprised to find Florida didn’t top the Realtor.com list, with Miami ranking just 113th best city to age in place. The worst? Burlington, Vt. Realtor.com used data from the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, GolfNow Course Directory, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as it compiled its list.
The Top 10 cities to age in place in the Realtor.com study are Florence, S.C.; Macon, Ga.; Lake Havasu City, Ariz.; Vero Beach, Fla.; Texarkana, Texas; Saginaw, Mich.; Redding, Calif.; Dothan, Ala.; Shreveport, La.; and Hickory, N.C.
Florence has been on the upswing. Over the last several years, it has been hard at work on redeveloping its downtown area, which now boasts an $18 million library and a new art, science, and history museum—just the thing for folks with increasing amounts of time on their hands. The median home listing price is $165,200.
Local Realtor Laraine Stevens noted that more than 22,000 of the city’s housing units have been designed or modified to accommodate older residents. She said more of her buyers are seeking single-story homes or residences with ground-floor master suites.
“The cost of living is very affordable, and our taxes are lower compared to bigger cities. You have a more temperate climate. You’re not fighting the snow and the blizzards.”
Lake Havasu City probably makes the list because of 290 sunny days per year. Near the junction of the California, Nevada, and Arizona, Liz Miller of Keller Williams Arizona Living Realty noted that it actually boasts one of the highest percentages of senior citizens in the nation.
“It’s an active community. Anything you want to do with water, you can do it here. And right now is an exciting time here.”
Hickory, N.C., which rounds out the Top 10, is a furniture manufacturing hub, but it also is a three-time winner of the National Civic League’s “All-American City” award. It has plenty of golf opportunities, recreation and eateries.
As an agent, you can position yourself to gain business from these growing demographics by earning the Seniors Real Estate Specialists (SRES) designation, signifying that you are a Realtor qualified to address the needs of home buyers and sellers age 50 and over.