The urban retirement lifestyle represents a perfect fit with what many baby boomers are looking for in a retirement lifestyle. Baby boomers want to be close to employment possibilities, they would like to reduce their dependence on the automobile, and they are very interested in participating in a rich and diverse community. Builders of 55+ communities have been listening, and many new choices are attracting buyers.
Granted, the urban lifestyle doesn’t appeal to everyone. Most people, 85% of them, will not move anywhere in retirement. But about 15% of retirees will relocate; either locally (10%), or at some distance (5%). Of the 15% who will relocate, presumably mostly of whom are from the suburbs, a small but significant percentage will retire to a city. Those who choose an urban retirement tend to affluent. Many will purchase a pied a terre for occasional use in the city, but other baby boomers will sever all local ties and move to a city.
Living in the city is seductive for many folks. You can live in a sleek apartment in a hot neighborhood. Walk downstairs (or take the elevator) and a world of great restaurants, galleries, museums, parks, and every other kind of attraction awaits you. You can live in an exciting environment with diverse neighbors, not just the folks whose idea of a stimulating discussion is that incredible putt they made on 18. Not to mention great shopping and maintenance-free living. And if you decide to go on vacation, you just lock and leave.
At the recent National Association of Homebuilders “Building For Boomers & Beyond” Conference in Philadelphia, a quartet of architects and designers discussed the latest urban lifestyle trends. Speakers at this session included: Bill Kreager of MITHUN (Seattle), Rick New of DTJ Design (Boulder), Doris Pearlman of Possibilities for Design, and John Westrum of Westrum Development (Fort Washington, Pa) A highlight of the session was their review of award-winning urban developments in Seattle, Boulder, and Philadelphia – cities whose downtowns have been very successful in attracting baby boomers. The projects ranged from modest density town homes to very high density condo towers. The buildings tend to attract non-traditional people looking for an exciting lifestyle. Buyers represent a wide variety of ages and include both couples and singles. Some of the projects were new construction, while others were conversions from previous uses. Roof decks, gyms, pools, and other amenities are usually part of the development. Almost all were sold out soon after completion, indicating how much interest there is in this type of urban retirement.
Magnolia Townhouses – 28 units per acre
Ravenna Cottages – 6 cottages and 3 carriage homes – 32 units per acre
Mosler Lofts -This community has won numerous awards. It is a high rise over stores in a thriving neighborhood
One Boulder Plaza – A mixed use redevelopment project overlooking popular Pearl Street totaling 390,000 sq. ft. Apartments are above restaurants and retail. The developers sold 28 of the units in an afternoon (although that was a few years ago). Prices range from $380,000 to $1 million plus.
Parc Rittenhouse – A former Sheraton Hotel that towers over very popular Rittenhouse Square. Apartments range from 400 to over 7500 sq. ft.
Liberty Tower – A former commercial building near Logan Square that is loaded with amenities. Apartment sizes go from 1150 to 15,000 sq. ft.
10 Rittenhouse – New construction on Rittenhouse Square. Features a beautiful indoor pool along with every other amenity. As with many other of these Philadelphia high rises, owners are a mixed group including pro athletes, middle aged professionals, as well as baby boomer retirees.
Symphony House– New construction near Kimmell Center.
Domus– 290 luxury apartments in the University Center that integrates residential, commercial, and public recreation areas.
See Also: Best Retirement Cities
Is a city retirement in your future? Please share your viewpoint in the Comments section below.