Boomers Seek Home Upgrades, Not Senior Housing

Baby Boomers are projected to spend $1.9 trillion on home purchases over five years, and not all boomers are looking to downsize, according to the latest research from The Demand Institute, which finds a significant amount of the World War II-born generation are looking for larger homes, or smaller homes with upgraded features.

Only one in five boomer movers wants to relocate to senior-related housing or active adult communities, The Demand Institute finds.

“We see that the current median age for someone who plans to move to senior housing is 61 years,” Jeremy Burbank, vice president of The Demand Institute, tells SHN. “When we take into account how old they will be when they actually move into senior housing, [based on respondents’ projections], we get a median age of 67 years.”


The organization surveyed more than 4,000 Baby Boomer households about their current living situation, moving intentions and house preferences for the report.

Of those who move out their home either to another home or senior housing community, only one-third will move out of state. More than half of boomers will move within 30 miles of their current home.

“For many boomers, maintaining a connection to their communities and families is an important consideration as they decide where to live,” The Demand Institute says. 


Boomers Looking for More Space

While most boomers plan to age in place, 37% have plans to move from their current home, data show. And 47% of those looking to move are looking for nicer homes and more space. Even those moving into smaller homes that will be easier to maintain are interested in homes with high-end finishes and nearby services and amenities. 

“Boomers want to live independently in retirement, in their current communities,” Burbank says. “Most want to stay in their current homes, and those who move will mostly look to purchase detached single-family homes near where they currently live. In many cases, instead of downsizing and addressing future health needs, we find Boomers are looking to upgrade their homes and not scale back.”

In addition, boomers are more likely to make value and style improvements than they are to make the home easier to maintain or more aging-friendly, Burbank says.

Homes Not Aging-Friendly

Perhaps that’s because the majority of boomers feel their homes are places they can stay as they get older (75%).

But this sentiment exists despite the fact that many of these homes lack aging-friendly features such as a single story, 58%; low maintenance, 47%; and accessibility features, 27%, according to the study. Three quarters of boomer households have already suffered a major health incident or have a chronic health condition. 

And when it comes to retirement, boomers are still retiring or planning to retire when they reach their mid-60s — ready or not. Fewer than half of boomer households are retired today, but a majority will be retired five years from now, data show.

“With median assets of $240,000 — more than half of which is tied up in their homes — many Boomers still have a ways to go [before they are ready for retirement,” The Demand Institute says.

Access the report here.

Written by Cassandra Dowell

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