Look to cities in Central Florida for insights into US demographic and development trends. Florida’s Lakeland and Winter Haven cities are good places to start to understand what’s happening in more rural, exurban places. And then look at The Villages to help shed light upon the “silver tsunami” sweeping the country.
The Lakeland-Winter Haven area, a rural area in between Tampa and Orlando, has experienced a +3.2% increase in population growth since last year. Forbes Magazine calls this population growth a “Snow Belt to Sun Belt shift.” Writing in Forbes, Garrett Kenny, a real estate developer, wrote. “It’s only a matter of time before this area between Tamp and Orland becomes con-urbanized. Getting in early while the growth potential is particularly high is how developers can realize massive success…”
The Villages, a rapidly expanding planned senior living center, represents what the sweeping “silver tsunami,” the relocation of 60+ and retirees, will look like. “We predict,” Hamilton Lomback, a demographics researcher at the University of Virginia, told Curbed’s Patrick Sisson, “the nation’s 65-plus population will grow by roughly 90% by 2040.”
Currently, there are 4.3M people, soon to top 5.2M, in the Orlando region of the state, according to Orlando’s Economic Partnership 2030 Report. This report forecasts more than 1,500 people moving into the area every week.
Buoyed by sprawl, super-commuters and seniors, Orlando is the ninth fastest growing region in the county. Since 2010, the region has seen +20% population growth. The Bureau of Labor Statistics ranked Orlando number one for job growth for the fourth consecutive year and there is $10B in infrastructure projects and $1B in downtown development funds already in place.
Master-planned communities such as The Villages are “extreme examples of what aging Boomers are doing.” According to Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, someone over 65 years old will head one in three households. It also projects that Americans over 80 years old will double from today’s 6M people to 12M people in the next two decades.
Sisson suggests that this narrative is consistent with past narratives in Florida “…a housing boom build on cheap land, car-centric planning and a dearth of transit-friendly, affordable units.”