When you picture active adult communities, what comes to mind?
If it’s a bustling urban community in a walkable neighborhood with exciting activities, dining and entertainment, then you’ve been paying attention.
Industry experts note a growing trend of 55+ adults moving from suburban areas back to urban centers.
“Over the last five to seven years, this market has seen greater demand for 55+ communities that keep residents connected to the action in urban areas,” says John Manrique, vice president of Market at Kolter Holmes, LLC, a homebuilder with several active adult communities in urban areas. Kolter Homes builds in Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas.
Of course, conventional amenities are still hugely popular with active adults. These homebuyers continue to want amenities such as fitness centers, outdoor and indoor pools, hike and bike trails, as well as community centers where they meet and socialize with neighbors. However, the added perks of living in the middle of the action are causing 55+ buyers to flock to urban areas like never before.
Amenities to Match the Lifestyle
It may come as a surprise to learn that Boomers have a lot in common with another segment of the population when it comes to their taste in amenities: Millennials. “Baby boomers have learned to be busy while working raising Millennials,” says Holly Leggett, Senior Real Estate Specialist and Sales Agent at Windsong Properties in Woodstock, Ga. “They want to keep up with them as they grow older, so their interests are very similar.”
Much like Millennials, Boomers (folks born between 1946 and 1964) gravitate toward mixed-use urban, walkable communities for the convenience they offer.
“Urban areas provide easy, convenient access to the action and activity active adults are looking for: a range of dining choices, shopping, travel, recreation, as well as entertainment venues for concerts and other top performers,” says Manrique.
According to the 2017 National Association of Realtors Home Buyer and Seller Generational Report, 13 percent of buyers between the ages of 52 and 61 purchased a home in an urban area/central city and this number continues to rise. “Boomers — particularly the younger segment — value flexibility, freedom and choice,” says Manrique.
No Car Needed
Urban planners, home builders and developers are working to create open spaces where residents of all ages can enjoy the great outdoors. Communities geared toward active adults make intentional choices such as widening sidewalks and creating bike lanes and extending pedestrian walk signal times to improve their walkability. Walkable communities have tangible benefits: they’re associated with better health, social engagement and higher property values, according to a 2009 study from Active Living Research.
These mixed-use areas connect residents with exciting things to do throughout the city and allow residents to remain active without having to drive. “Every doctor tells them to walk, so having something enjoyable to walk around is good,” says Leggett.
Boomers are eschewing the more isolated retirement communities favored by previous generations and are instead choosing to live where the action is: in the city. “(Fifty-five-plus buyers) want to continue to fill their time with their grandkids, community activities, volunteering/giving back and going out to lunch or dinner,” says Leggett.
Urban living offers what Leggett says many active adult buyers are looking for: “Friends of similar ages that can afford that price point, dining because a lot of them really don’t like to cook anymore, medical facilities and areas that have an active nightlife and weekend life, with shopping and live music.”
This demographic tends to have more disposable income than Millennials, allowing them to enjoy the many different entertainment options urban areas have to offer.
Service and Ease of Maintenance
With the seemingly endless options for fun in the city, scheduling time for everything can be a headache. Some urban communities designed with active adults in mind are offering amenities like concierge services you’d find in a hotel. Whether you need a dog walker, a grocery shopper or someone to arrange an evening out for you and a friend, the concierge takes the stress away.
“55+ buyers seek out active adult communities for many reasons, but one is definitely the convenience,” says Reid.
“We live younger, healthier, longer, even though we may be getting older,” says Leggett. “Maybe 55+ is learning from the younger generations and have become a little more okay with doing what they want, by claiming a lifestyle in the city or urban area that they could not do before when they were raising their kids.”
There are a variety of factors pulling active adults back toward urban living and one thing’s for sure: this demographic takes advantage of all city living has to offer and there’s no slowing down.
Seve Kale is an award-winning freelancer writer and former content intern for NewHomeSource. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in December 2013 with a degree in Government, Humanities and Spanish.
Prior to working with NewHomeSource, she interned in the Press Section at the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires and traveled extensively throughout South America