Note: See also Survey results from 2020 on the same topic.
March 5, 2013 — Wow, talk about feedback – 753 helpful folks provided their valuable insights on their retirement status, housing preferences, and the future of active adult communities in last week’s poll. Thanks to everyone who answered these 8 questions.
Your input provides so much to think about – we just wish we had room to highlight every comment! If there was one member statement that really struck us above all others, it was this one: “We love thinking about (retirement) and exploring our options. So many ideas, so many places to go, things to do. Can’t wait!” We just love that attitude, prevalent among so many Topretirements members.
There is no single one thing that folks are looking for – everybody has a slightly different recipe for retirement perfection. But all you builders out there, please note some key trends here! We’ve detailed the findings to each of the 8 questions below, but here are a few highlights.
– Low maintenance and energy efficient are important
– Easy walkability to town, parks and lakes, shopping
– One story, detached or semi-detached for some privacy
– Affordable and low-tax
– Good medical nearby
– Good (sunny/warm) weather
– Access to transportation
– Plenty of activities
– Smaller homes
– Low crime and good security
While most people seem to agree the above characteristics make for great retirement living, there are substantial pockets of folks looking for these attributes:
– No Golf
– Small town
– Grandchildren can visit/grandchildren nearby
– Rent instead of buy
– No HOAs
– Pet friendly
– Manufactured homes/RV community
1. Retirement Status
A slight majority of our members and visitors are not retired – 49% retired vs. 46% not. Apparently our members are in the planning phase, which is a good thing!
The majority (68%) of Topretirements members taking the survey are between 56 and 65, which, considering the slight majority who say they are not yet retired, makes sense. Those 66 and over make up 23% of survey takers, with the remainder 55 and under.
3. Type of community you intend to retire in.
Our poll confirms what we have seen in the past – most people intend to retire in a traditional neighborhood. But there is significant interest in active adult communities, small towns, and college towns. We listed 6 preferences and asked members to arrange them into their order of preference. The results produced a tight pattern with one clear preference at the top (regular town or suburb – 3.04 ranking), 4 closely clustered in the middle (see below), and a very distant 6th, Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC – ranking of 5.28). The latter undoubtedly reflects the relatively young age of our membership, since CCRCs tend to have an older audience.
Regular town or suburb
Active adult/55 community
Mid-size or large city
4. Type of housing
Builders take note: the overwhelming favorite type of housing among Topretirements members is a 1 story home. Townhomes, condos, and traditional homes were close together in the 2nd – 4th positions.
1 story home
Mid-size or large city
5. How likely is it that you will choose to live in an active adult or 55+ community?
The answer is that there are just about as many Topretirements members and visitors who are interested in living in an active adult community as are not interested – 36% are likely or extremely likely vs. 33% who are on the other side. The remaining 31% are in the unsure category. We believe that our audience is more interested in these communities than the general population.
Why 55+ – or Not – A Sampling of Comments
There were hundreds of interesting comments explaining why people are interested or not in active communities. While there are plenty of reasons, here are a few typical comments:
– We like diversity of ages. 55 and older communities seem, well…
– We prefer to retire to a 55+ active adult community where our neighbors are of like mind to ours and maintenance and daily chores are minimal.
– The HOA fees and politics make 55 plus communities not so appealing.
– We like the concept of all of the things an active 55+ community has to offer, golf, swimming, crafts, clubs, etc.
– Don’t like association fees and want to live with a mix of different ages
– My spouse and I have different opinions about 55 communities. I would love to live in one, but my spouse is not sure he would like one.
– Not enough land for gardening, homes are too close. I am afraid
of living too close to someone who blares the TV, or is in general not
a nice person.
– no noisy kids; a variety of adult activities at your ‘fingertips’; more of a community feel, w/ many opportunities to meet people in same age group
6. Likelihood of living where you are now in 20 years.
We asked this question to see how many people are contemplating a 2 stage retirement, or whose retirement plans are less permanent. It turns out more people think they will be likely to be living where they are now (37%) than unlikely (24%). The largest category was unsure (39%).
7. What do you think the future holds for active adult/55+ communities. What will they be like in 2050?
We recently saw a discussion where many folks were speculating that a lot of active adult communities would collapse or decline as their populations and facilities age. Apparently Topretirements members don’t share that opinion – 32% thought these communities would be thriving and only 10% thought they would be dying. The rest were unsure or thought there would be no change.
About the same
8. Is there anything else you would like to share about your retirement housing preferences?
We thought this would produce the most interesting responses and we weren’t disappointed. A gratifying 383 members were kind enough to share their opinions. The top of this article provides an overview of these comments.
While we wish we had room for more, here are some of the most representative comments: (For a pdf document with all 383 comments go to Retirement housing prefs Topretirements.com 2013.
– I’m looking at towns that have good medical available, low crime,and activities I will be able to continue to do as I age, like walking trails. I am looking at towns that have things of interest, like a place for continuing education, theater, and different types of fairs and events. I would really like this information on many places put together for me.
– I’m looking for a community with lots of outdoor activities, cultural options, access to excellent medical facilities, lots of sun throughout the year and wide open spaces.
– The tricky decision for us is when is it time for us to move to a situation with more care options available, like a CCRC
– We live in an extremely rural area, dirt roads and all. We love gardening, watching the critters who share this life with us and hiking through our woods and hills. We hope to stay here as long as we can. Rural living was not one of the choices in this survey.
– I like housing that is close or attached to save some costs but still have privacy and are in areas with activity near at hand. I’ve seen one story houses attached at the garages so you have a great private home space.
– Pet friendly is very, very important. I want to be able to have a couple of cats and I don’t want to have them declawed to do so.
– There are things I like about communities and other things I don’t. Having people live so close to you and you have no privacy is not that good. Having lots to do is good but fees can go up is not so good. Places can get run down if upkeep is not good too. There are always pros and cons. It’s a hard decision for most because change can always happen
– One floor living, near a college or university, good hospitals, reasonable cost of living, quality law enforcement agencies in the area, cannot have massive traffic problems
– I would love to see a variety of communities catering to singles, couples, young retirees and old retirees, integrated and will a lot of activities.
– Access to military base activities for retied military members. Availability Veteran Affairs medical facilities for veterans.
– I would like to find a thriving town with charming housing, where one can walk to nearly everything one needs, that is also reasonably priced for middle class retirees.
– Near the ocean/beach is our first priority, near golf, low taxes (property and/or income), easy upkeep, probably with a pool/lanai, near family or attractions for children/grandchildren to visit. Anything else is negotiable
– I wish a builder would build homes in the 1400 to 1500sq ft range for sr. living. Most of our friends would move into a house that size if it was affordable in price.
– It’s nearly paralyzing to try to sort out all the conflicting needs and wants.
– Two locations would be ideal but most people will not be able to afford that option.
– We have found the 55+ community to be wonderful. I read all the stuff about the downsides and have yet to experience any of those. Yes, HOA fees can be higher but you get what you pay for and we absolutely love it. Many wonderful people here from all over the country and world with varied interests so you can easily make new friends.
Thank you Topretirements members! Your input was so rich. We know your fellow members will find it useful. Please share your reactions in the Comments section below!
Links to Previous Surveys
Florida Top Choice for Snowbirds, But Many Migration Paths Lead to Happiness
Florida and Southeast Top Retirement Destinations
Our Members Getting Ready for Big Retirement Moves
Topretirements Members Report High Degrees of Spousal Compatibility- 2013
Best and Worst Things About Your Retirement
Your Bucket Lists Are Amazing
Top Concerns about Retirement
Plans for Retirement