I read a fascinating article recently on MultiBriefs about the future of Baby Boomers on the housing market.  Author Michael J. Berens compared expectations for Baby Boomers to recent data and surveys for an interesting look at how this demographic can impact housing in the coming years.  The article got me thinking about design for Baby Boomers.

According to the article, “for the next 15 years, 10,000 Baby Boomers will be turning 65 every day,”  That’s a lot of retirees!  Conventional expectations would lead you to believe these retirees will, for the most part, sell their family homes to move into active senior living or, perhaps, downsize to a smaller home.  Building markets are planning for this trend, but will it happen?

How will aging Baby Boomers affect the housing market?

How will aging Baby Boomers affect the housing market?

Because of the recent recession, many Baby Boomers are making plans that don’t include selling their family home.  A significant percentage of Baby Boomers plan to delay retirement in order to be able to afford the homes they have.  Many aren’t confident in the market or feel intimidated by rising housing costs.  Worries over housing affordability are causing many Boomers to resist plans to relocate or buy a new home.  This begs the question:  What are Baby Boomers planning?

A lot of people will simply decide to “age in place.”  This means planning ahead to create a home that will accommodate their lifestyle changes as they age.  It’s simply a fact of life that as we get older, our mobility decreases.  Safe housing for seniors means creating a space that allows for independence without risk.  By looking at ways to make their current home suitable for senior living, Baby Boomers can skip the uncertainty of buying and selling property.

Bathrooms have a high fall risk, but can be designed for both safety and beauty -- like this one by Carnemark Design + Build.

Bathrooms have a high fall risk, but can be designed for both safety and beauty — like this one by Carnemark Design + Build.

Many Boomers are choosing to increase financial stability by living with extended family.  Multi-generational homes are on the rise as parents and their adult children choose to pool their living costs sharing a home.  In addition to greater affordability, the additional help and care provided by extended families often makes it possible for seniors to continue to live safely at home far longer than if they lived alone. 

Multi-generational homes can benefit the entire family.

Multi-generational homes can benefit the entire family.

I think it will be interesting to see if retirees in the coming years opt to downsize, buying smaller homes or staying in rentals.  Both have advantages and challenges, but can provide stress-free living.  Rather than worrying about a sizable mortgage or maintaining a larger property, these retirees can enjoy more flexibility with less weighty responsibility.

An adorable cape by Siegel Architects, just the right size for a pair of retirees.

An adorable cape by Siegel Architects, just the right size for a pair of retirees.

Over the next several blog posts, I will be sharing design tips for Baby Boomers who plan to age in place as well as those who prefer the idea of multi-generational living.  Finally, I’ll write about advice for retirees who opt for renting or downsizing to a smaller space.  Come back for the next installment, “Tips for Aging in Place!”

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