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.
Read full article here:
Modify the preferred house to include wider doors and it is set up for aging being on one level. Then with uber and its competition getting into the delivery business including to go food, and with grocery stores providing order collecting services combined with Amazon’s growth in width of product line it may be unnecessary to get out so much. The idea of not having to hear the neighbors thru walls etc is likley a part of the goal.
Also depending on the time frame the whole self driving vehicle issue may affect perception also. Todays new cars have already technology to warn about things happening in traffic such as blind spot detection, forward collision mitigation (make the rear end accident in which you are the one doing the rear ending much less likley), rear vision cameras, lane departure warnings etc.
We’re GenX’ers and also prefer living in the burbs. Just prefer the quieter living and being closer to nature. Versus the urban jungle of concrete, cars, sirens, etc.
Hopefully by the time we have to hang up our keys, self-driving cars will be as common as those driven by humans today.
And based on the number of companies and the amount of money being plowed into this technology, it will happen sooner rather than later.
Even with tech where we are now, you can comfortably exist in suburbia. Amazon will deliver anything within a day or two (sometimes same day) – add a Blue Apron subscription for meals and Uber/Lyft and there you go. What many overlook is that as the years go by, the circles of friends get smaller, people move, families come in and then they are isolated from daily human interaction. God help the couple if one gets sick. Growing old alone in a house speeds up dementia/Alzheimer’s exponentially. Grandma in law moved herself into independent living apartment/condo complex years ago, she’s coming up on 102 sharp as a tack. She quit driving at around 95 because she was tired of doing it. She might outlive her kids. They routinely have 100 year old birthdays at the place. I credit it to the fact they all eat dinner together every night and talk for hours. Suburbia is great for growing up, not for growing old.
“And based on the number of companies and the amount of money being plowed into this technology, it will happen sooner rather than later.”
Two probs: Finding insurance companies that are willing to insure a car that drives itself with software and/or with wireless, and finding people willing to get in one. For those willing, one or two fiery crashes on the national news will do the trick.
Granny is doing great at that age! I think the point of the article is how many elderly aren’t prepared, and who aren’t that concerned about their housing as they grow older. Hopefully, they are tougher than most!
From the author’s bio:
I am convinced that we just use too much of everything- too much space, too much land, too much food, too much fuel, too much money, and that the key to sustainability is to simply use less. And, the key to happily using less is to design things better.
No bias or agenda there at all! “Boomers are clueless because they don’t subscribe to my worldview”
JTR, I don’t think people appreciate how fast it sneaks up. Seems better to scout out a place you’d be happy and connected and can make a circle of like-aged and like-minded friends and can settle in for the last 20 or so years as opposed to trying to stick it out on a suburban island for as long as you can. B/c at that point any move is jarring. I watched that scenario play out in slow motion and it is not a happy ending.
How many people just end up at the last stop, without rhyme or reason? I think there are more of those than we expect.
When I moved into my current residence 14 years ago, I didn’t think it was the last stop. But it might be!
At ages 63/54 (5.7 years ago) we chose to move deeper into Denver.
Now have a Walk Score of 90 and 26 restaurants within 6 blocks of our house.
What I think is out of sync with many boomers are their desires (as noted in the NAHB survey) and their forecasted income (not that good according to retirement experts).
I agree Dave, and I think boomers put off the idea of moving because it sounds intimidating. But the older we get, the worse it gets – and if illness strikes, it is really a problem.
Good for you for moving while you’re still young!