Our good sport this time of year is to go out on a limb with predictions about the hot baby boomer retirement trends for the coming year. Surely we will be wrong on some, but hope that in general we can be useful in predicting what factors will be most important in 2010. A recent CNBC article on Homebuilders and Baby Boomers provided some great research on the topic. Most of this year’s predictions are based on a common thread – the continued nervousness of baby boomers about their financial futures. Here we go with our baby boomer retirement trends for 2010:
– In 2010 retiring boomers will continue to be preoccupied with budget. Although Topretirements has many affluent members and visitors, the majority are baby boomers who know they have finite assets and want to get the most retirement out of them. A Met Life study just reported that younger baby boomers do not feel they have saved enough for retirement; they are very concerned about outliving their savings. This brings a quest for value and for lower cost alternatives, which smart marketers of 55+ communities will try to capitalize on. Some of the ways they will do that is by reducing home sizes, cutting some luxury amenities, and building in energy and maintenance efficiencies.
– Boomers will seek out bargains. Good deals are available in the resale and the new market because of high inventories and foreclosures. But buyers have to be prepared for the precarious finances of some existing communities in the sunbelt, many of which have high percentages of non-dues paying residents. Short sales and foreclosures have their own risks, of course.
– Taxes and cost of living are very important factors. Although climate is still important in determining where today’s baby boomers retire, it is not the sole driver anymore. States and communities that want to attract new baby boomer retirees should focus on advertising their competitive economic advantages vs. the northeast or midwest. Older states seeking to hold on to their existing retiree residents and their contribution to the local economy, should work on creating tax incentives (such as partial tax freezes on property taxes) for retirees, who can easily vote with their feet.
– Health concerns are more important for the baby boomer group, particularly its oldest cohort. . Indications from a Del Webb and a Met Life study indicate that fitness and being close to quality health care are increasingly important concerns. For these boomers, amenities like fitness centers and classes might be more important than a fancy golf course.
– More boomers will be retiring later, if at all. The Del Webb study found that 75% of boomers plan on staying in the workforce to some extent, up from 68% in a previous study. The working longer trend brings with it other desires – the ability to live in a place where work is available, home offices instead of extra bedrooms, and ready access to good transportation. Having good maintenance services available is very important to boomers, who are both tired of raking the yard and might not have the time for it either (since they will be working)!
– More baby boomers will be willing to move than ever before. Economic factors might be the trigger for a lot of people. Climate will be another. But boomers have moved before in their careers, and they will do it again for a better lifestyle. Del Webb found that of those who are willing to move in retirement, 50% might move out of state.
– Geographic preferences are getting more complicated. Florida and Arizona were always the most popular retirement destinations. Then the Carolinas, Texas, Nevada, and Tennessee joined the beauty contest – and Florida started losing share. But the tremendous swings in real estate values in 2008-9 have upset the apple cart – now real estate is so inexpensive in parts of Arizona, Florida, and Nevada that the Carolinas and Tennessee have lost some of their competitive advantage.
– Do not, under any circumstances, try to label or categorize baby boomer retirees. They’re all different. That’s good news for builders who can come up with creative new features, amenities, and communities. Bad news for those who want to market to “seniors” with cookie cutter communities.
What Boomers Should be Looking for
Those are our few predictions for 2010 baby boomer retirement trends. But we can’t leave without providing a short list of what baby boomers should be looking for in a retirement community:
– Universal design. New retirees tend to be short sighted, refusing to think ahead 20 years. Don’t buy a home without a 1st floor bedroom (or an elevator). Make sure interior steps are at a minimum, halls are wide, and fixtures/counters at a convenient height. Make universal design part of your lexicon.
– Financial stability. Check out your new community carefully. Find out default rates on community dues and the number of foreclosed homes. Go with safety.
– Think about the next move. Just as staying too long in your suburban home is usually a colossal mistake for retirees (think taxes, maintenance, driving, energy, and social isolation), picking a retirement community that doesn’t have ready access to some kind of eldercare resource is a mistake. That’s because you might find yourself having to move to a completely new community very late in life, which can be very traumatic. If you are lucky enough, you will go through all of life’s phases, so it’s best to think about that now.
For further reference:
Top 10 Active Adult Trends for 2009
Our previous Baby Boomer Retirement predictions – 2008
Met Life Mature Market Institute Study
CNBC – Homebuilders Target Baby Boomers with New Amenities and Activities
What do you think? Please post your opinions in our Comments section below.