Friday, November 29, 2013

Where do Retiring Boomers Want to Live – near city centres or in the suburbs?

UK Baby Boom and Bust by David Willetts
UK Baby Boom and Bust by David Willetts (Photo credit: dullhunk)
Where Are The Boomers Headed? Not Back To The City( Joel Kotkin and Wendell Cox, New Geography, Oct. 17, 2013) 

Also discussed here: With the kids gone, aging Baby Boomers opt for city life(Tara Bahrampour, The Washington Post, Aug. 899, 2013) 

Today we review a debate going on about retirees and where they chose to move, if they do chose to do that. On the one hand, when rearing their children, families moved to the suburbs for the space it offers but when the children are gone, some of the now empty-nesters move downtown to smaller condos. Then, we have a recent poll of retirees that indicates that a huge majority (85%) want to stay where they have always lived. And then, we have statistics from the 51 biggest cities in the USA that indicate that the number of retirees within 5 miles of the city centres has in fact diminished and the number outside this area has increased. 

On the other hand, and in direct contradiction, another poll of the 50 biggest cities indicated that those who live more than 40 mils from the city centre have moved to within 5 miles of it. An additional factor not mentioned by either side is that the main impact of intensification using condos in the urban core is to raise the land prices of all surrounding land which works against low rise family residences such as row-houses or townhouses which otherwise would or could be part of the mix downtown. The end result has important implications for urban design and transportation planning over the next few decades: will downtowns prosper with more residents with money to spend on leisure activities or will the city core become barren with most people opting to live away from it? The debate goes on and city planners and developers are paying attention!

Key Quotes: 

“mini-trend now taking root in some parts of the nation and particularly in the Washington metro area: baby boomers swapping out their single-family suburban homes for the bustle of urban life.” 

 “Between 2000 and 2010, more than a million baby boomers moved out of areas 40 to 80 miles from city centers and a similar number moved to within five miles of city centers, according to an analysis of 50 large cities” 

“Many are empty nesters, and freed of the need to factor in school districts and yard sizes, they are gravitating to dense urban cores near restaurants, shops, movie theaters and Metro stations.” 

“While a 2010 AARP survey showed that 85 percent of people 50 to 64 prefer to stay in their current residences, the percentage decreases with income” 

“Looking at the 51 metropolitan areas with more than a million residents, areas within five miles of the center lost 17% of their boomers over the past decade, while the balance of the metropolitan areas, predominately suburbs, only lost 2%. In contrast places outside the 51 metro areas actually gained boomers.”
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