The baby boomer generation is huge, roughly 78 million Americans born between the years of 1946 and 1964. The oldest are just turning 70 and the youngest are just 52 (and usually denying that they are even baby boomers.) It’s a big spread. But one thing they all have in common is that they are getting older, and that their lives are changing.
It’s an issue that we have covered before, quoting Jane Gould’s book “Aging in Suburbia,” which I described as “a fascinating and troubling book that covers so many of the issues we will be facing down the cul-de-sac.” She notes that boomers “have not considered, at a personal level, what they will do when their homes are too large, their incomes shrink, and their mobility needs are in flux.”
That’s why a new study looking at the housing preferences of the baby boomer generation from the NAHB, the National Association of Home Builders, is so scary. Because when they were surveyed, it appears that what boomers want are big suburban houses on winding culs-de-sac. It proves that Gould was dead on, that the boomers are simply not considering what’s down that long and winding road.
It’s bizarre. 78 percent actively prefer a cul-de-sac to a connected street. They want double car garages. They want 2,000 square feet on one level. They want three bedrooms. And they really, really don’t like the city.
Only 7 percent of boomers prefer a central city location. About two-thirds prefer a home in the suburbs (close or outlying) and just over a quarter prefer a rural area. Only 8 percent thought being near public transit was essential. Because of course, they’re going to be driving forever.
Yet the main reason they might consider a move is the worry about “changes in health or increased physical limitations. And “the leading two reasons that would motivate boomers to take on a potential move are finding greater peace of mind and a fuller life.”
Not high on any boomer’s list is the environment. Only 13 percent are willing to pay more out of concern for it. However they will pay more if they’ll get lower utility bills, up to $10,000 to save $1,000 per year, which is pretty hard to do.
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