About a week ago I wrote about the new flow of boomers out of the ‘burbs and back to the big city, rather than into the retirement communities of the sun belt. As I said in that post, once again we’re doing aging our way, not our parents’ way.
And the real estate industry is taking notice. Here’s what’s happening, just for us, thanks to developers and real estate moguls who know what’s what: The Boomers Are Back!
The Stats On Boomers Moving To The Cities
Savvy real estate managers and developers realize that over-50 buyers who are looking to leave the suburbs for the city aren’t just looking to shed the responsibilities of caring for a big home and yard; they’re looking for the good things in life, for experiences and an environment that serve up life as a delicious dish to savor. So, older buyers coming into urban dwellings tend to buy condos or townhouses near the ballet, opera, good restaurants, and theaters.
And if you think this is a trend among just a few of the ultra wealthy, the statistics tell a different truth. Five years ago, only 5% of the clientele at Dream Town Realty in Chicago were former suburbanites over 50 coming back to the city. Now that percentage has risen to almost 15%. The stampede to the city is growing, at a rapid pace.
New Cool Building Amenities Just For Us
With new demand comes new supply to satisfy it. New buildings under construction or renovation in urban cities now offer amenities designed to please the over-50 buyer, including space for a home office, guest rooms for grown children and their children, wine rooms, even concierge services that will arrange for dog walkers, plan parties, bring in a masseuse, or find catering services for entertaining.
And because many of these ex-suburbanites have sold a large house in preparation for the move, they’ve got money to pay for some extras designed just for them, like buildings with elevators even if they’re just two-story structures, refrigerated wine and beer caves, on-site spas, and more.
Urban Neighborhoods Morphing for the Over-50 Set
According to Harris Steinberg, executive director of the Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation at Drexel University, many cities such as Philadelphia are seeing more high-end restaurants, boutiques, and pop-up shops changing their style and their offerings to cater to those over 50. And more mixed-use developments are being built, according to Jean Setzfand, senior vice president of programs at AARP, a Washington, DC–based nonprofit and lobbying group for older Americans. These buildings planned around the needs of older residents offer housing space, business space, and services such as doctor’s offices all under one high-rise roof, making it easy for older tenants to navigate throughout their day to attain the goods and services that they require without the need for a car or even a taxi ride.
With luck, cities will follow suite and create more parks and pleasant walking spaces where older city dwellers can stroll, bike, and enjoy warm-weather concerts.
Notes Setzfand, “Older individuals are stronger voters.” Local leaders are well aware of this fact, and are motivated to attract the over-50 crowd to their cities and districts and make them happy.