Baby Boomer Housing Trends

January
21
2014

Here’s a good article by the NAHB (National Association of Home Builders).  They say that baby boomers dominate new housing trends.  And if we are any indication – being both baby boomers, and on our way to building our retirement home, then what they are saying is very true!  See if you agree.

The largest American generation is either retired or quickly nearing retirement age. Baby boomers, the generation born between 1946 and 1964 and who count more than 76 million, may be getting older, but they are definitely not ready to head to an elder care facility! 

I love this design!

I love this design!

The boomer generation is more active than generations past, has a more sophisticated style and wants options and choices in their homes. Whether they are selling the homes where they raised their children and heading to sunnier pastures, or staying put and redesigning to accommodate their retired lifestyle, boomers are making an impact on new housing trends. Some features that home builders and re-modelers are seeing as they begin to cater to the boomers include:

Home Offices – Many, many boomers are continuing to work past the age of 65 either because they love their work, or because their retirement savings lost value in the recession. As they transition from a traditional 9-to-5 job, however, many want home offices for flexibility. A second career or part-time employment often eliminates the hassle of commuting while keeping them active and bringing in supplementary income.   

Technology – The tech-savvy boomer generation wants a home that will support all their personal technology. That can mean structured wiring that can drive a network of services that include lighting controls, a security system or a home media center. And they may want a wireless home network with broadband internet access for laptops, tablets and streaming movies.  

Wider Doors and Hallways – Designing a home that is livable now but can transition and be functional as the occupant ages is important in ensuring that the home will be a good long-term investment. Wider doors and hallways are useful for moving larger furniture today, and will allow the home owners to use mobility devices such as walkers and wheelchairs, should they become necessary.

Better Lighting/Bigger Windows – The need for more lighting increases as we grow older. To accommodate this, builders are adding more windows, making them larger to let in more natural light, and making them more energy-efficient as well. They are also adding more light fixtures in areas such as kitchens, bathrooms, and stairways, where dim light can lead to accidental injury. Switches at the top and bottom of a stairwell, and the use of dimmer controls to eliminate glare are other helpful options.

This one from Great Falls Construction is also beautiful!

This one from Great Falls Construction is also beautiful!

First-Floor Bedrooms and Bathrooms – NAHB data shows that 73 percent of buyers aged 55 and up don’t want a second-floor master suite. Boomers wishing to save their joints and avoid stairs have helped fuel this trend. Today’s bedrooms are also bigger, with larger walk-in closets and bathrooms that often have a separate tub and shower and dual sinks.

Easy to Maintain Exteriors/Landscaping Yard work, painting, and other landscaping chores may no longer be enjoyable to aging home owners. People who move to a new home when they retire may opt for a maintenance-free community. Those that choose to stay in their homes might make improvements to exterior surfaces such as installing stucco, brick or low-maintenance siding. Lawns are being replaced with outdoor rooms, decorative landscaping, or flower beds for gardening enthusiasts — either at ground level or raised for seated access.

Our new house will be similar to this design by Dan Sater.

Our new house will be similar to this design by Dan Sater.

Flex Space – Flexible space has become more prevalent in both new homes and remodeling. Flex spaces are rooms that serve the present home owner’s needs but can adjust to changes as they occur. What may have once started out as a child’s bedroom can be redecorated to serve as a hobby room, library or home office, and can be repurposed later for a bedroom for visiting grandchildren or for an in-home caregiver. This flexibility allows home owners to stay in their homes longer, meeting their needs throughout life’s stages.

We will actually be following all of these examples.  We plan on having two home offices, we’ll keep our master on the first floor,  our home will be more technologically advanced, the doorways will be wider, the lighting and amount of windows will be greater, and we plan on keeping the grounds as low maintenance as we possibly can.  I was also planning on adding closets to the room that will be dedicated to storage, qualifying as flex space because it could then be turned into a bedroom if needed one day.  We’ll be going against the tide in a way, since we will not be downsizing, but we will still be following what will be the norm for the baby boomer generation.  Will you be following these guidelines also?

December sky in the backyard.

December sky in the backyard.

What Does Retirement Mean To You?

December
3
2013

 

I am heading out of town today.  Our “little girl” is getting “sworn in” tomorrow, and I am driving down to Virginia to be with her and witness this momentous occasion.  Yep, we have a lawyer in the family. (John and I are very proud parents.)  I will write about our experience later this week, so for now, I hope you will enjoy this article, written by Jean C. Setzfand from AARP, July 12, 2011.  (The pictures, though, are mine.)

Few people see retirement anymore as a time when they’ll put their feet up and do nothing. Increasingly, people expect to work past 65 or 67, even if their job is something completely different from what they’ve done their whole lives. They’ll do this because either the work is rewarding or, more often these days, their budgets require it — especially for health care costs and even if it’s not full time.

But in this new era of retirement, planning shouldn’t focus solely on finances. Without doubt, money is a huge part of retirement planning — probably the most significant part — but it’s not all of it.

Sunset in Key West

Sunset in Key West

When planning for retirement, having a balanced approach that considers both life (what it will look like on a day-to-day basis) and finances will help you achieve the most positive outlook. You must prepare mentally and emotionally for what happens when you actually retire.

For some, retirement means resting and relaxing.

What do you picture when you think about your retirement? It’ll be different for everyone. Is it the luxury of sleeping late and not rushing to the office? Is it the fear of losing the thing that gave your life the most purpose, and maybe your identity — your job? Or is retirement the opportunity for you to do something very specific with your time on your terms? This could mean volunteering, studying photography, writing the novel you never had time for, traveling or even working 10 to 15 hours a week for your former employer or some other organization.

Sunset in Turks and Caicos

Sunset in Turks and Caicos

As I look into the future, I dream of running a community-sustained agriculture (CSA) farm. In the most traditional sense of retirement, that dream is about 20 years away, but I’m imagining right now what it will take to make that dream my future reality.

What does retirement mean for you? Write down a list of specific retirement goals and then try to trim it down to your top five goals. Be creative. Start a collage or a journal with photos, magazine images, words and phrases to help you visualize your goals and make them more concrete. Or start an online community for people imagining retirement. Hearing others describe their plans can enhance your own perspective.

Sunset at our place in Maryland

Sunset at our place in Maryland