The 50+ crowd used to be embodied by grey-haired old folks sitting in sunny retirement villages knitting and reminiscing about the golden days of their yesteryears.
It is no surprise, once again, Baby Boomers (those 78 million Americans born between the years 1946 and 1964, often thought of as our nation’s most celebrated generation) are changing the look of what it means to reach that magic age of AARP membership qualification. From health, fitness and cosmetics to housing, the workplace and I daresay, sex and romance, the Boomers are certainly not going quietly into retirement.
In 2006, the oldest Boomer turned 60. George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, Cher, Donald Trump, Sylvester Stallone and Dolly Parton all reached this milestone that same year. Other icons in this group (Paul McCartney, who turned 64 on June 18, 2006) as celebrated on the May/June 2006 cover of AARP. Doubt it if he thought he’d still be playing rock and roll when he “turned 64” as the legendary lyrics claim. And in February 2006, Newsweek revealed its cover story “Sex and the Single Boomer” demonstrated visually with a scantily clad 51-year-old. Touting Boomers as “changing the way older Americans look at sex, romance, marriage and relationships,” the article claimed that Boomers are dating more so than any other generation of older Americans, attributing a recent AARP survey that said up to 70 percent of single boomers said they dated regularly.
Speaking of not covering up, Jamie Lee Curtis showed some skin on the cover of the May/June 2008 issue of AARP, posing topless. Looking to embrace her upcoming 50th birthday, she voiced her desire for the “ultimate boomer experience and is an exuberant crusader for aging wisely and well.”
The new over 50 crowd is notorious for seemingly aging more slowly. What’s more, half of the over-65 population define themselves as middle-aged or even young. So, what does this change in lifestyle mean for the housing market?
Some pundits still feel that as boomers age, more will move into assisted-living centers, apartments or relatives’ houses, as expressed in a January 2008 article of USA Today. “Those with two homes may sell one and retire to their vacation house. And when they pass on, many of their heirs will sell the properties.”
Moreover, a recent nationwide survey commissioned by AARP found that nearly one in five people between the ages of 55 and 64 are putting retirement plans on hold because of the economic unease that has gripped the country.
Not withstanding, it’s still my belief that synonymous with their lifestyles, most boomers have varied plans and timelines. This will result in diverse housing requirements and a considerable shift from the traditional patterns established by the earlier generations.
Taking a cue from the momentous attitudinal shift in the over 50 crowd from prior generations, my predictions align with the demographic diversity enjoyed by “Ruppies” a new generational cohort identified as “retired urban professionals.”
Ruppies are moving out of suburbia and into high-density communities found in larger cities such as Atlanta, Los Angeles, San Diego and Chicago. They are choosing housing options within walking distance to coffee shops, public transportation, retail stores, parks, entertainment and restaurants. This dynamic group of aging adults (like so many of the iconic Boomers described above) are attracted to bustling areas surrounded by young families and students as age tends to “disappear” in downtown areas. For them, finding the right location (as an alternative to plastic surgery, pills and hair color) is an overlooked cure to feeling young, healthy and active.
Boomers are shattering the stereotypes. In doing so, they are also altering the landscape (once again) of the housing market. Reaching this audience will have those of us in the home channel thinking past the traditional patterns set by Boomers’ predecessors and into a new way of aging gracefully in places other than just retirement villages and assisted living communities.
Looking for more information about the housing market? Email me at email@example.com. And stayed tuned for K&A’s upcoming Ruppies white paper, available later this year.