How Will the New Baby Boomer Retirement Lifestyle Shape the World?

What impact will Baby Boomer retirement lifestyle decisions have on the physical makeup of cities, government policies and the building industry? Plenty! The reality is that the end of the middle age is no longer, for most people, attached to the beginning of either retirement or old age. We’re in the early stages of a great migration…across time and the life course, as tens of millions (80,000 Baby Boomers turn 60 every day) reach the spot where middle age used to end and old age once began. With these kinds of numbers there can be no doubt that there will be a major reset on how new housing developments are planned, the amenities that will be required to be part of them and the actual spatial and physical requirements of individual homes in order to meet Baby Boomer Housing needs. Here are some solutions that will address Baby Boomer needs:

  • A larger demographic in housing initiatives to reflect the range of needs that the Boomer demographic encompasses. One floor living with must haves in various sizes, located near facilities and amenities needed for a retirement lifestyle. This means changes in urban planning policies.
  • Government must consider both ‘early’ boomer who is in good health and wishes to remain so, as well as providing healthcare for boomers who want to age in place as well as those of us with chronic or long term health issues who will require more medical and other kinds of assistance.
  • Governments will also need to ensure a mix of low rise and medium density housing with good transit options and safe and well-lit communities.
  • ‘Downsizing’ should be really interpreted as ‘right-sizing’: builders in general and condo builders in particular need to review their unit designs if they want to attract this segment of the population. With the average size of condo units declining in the past three years, many boomers are not considering high-rise condos as viable alternatives.

There is no doubt you will need to declutter! But the sizes of principal rooms such as kitchens; great rooms and bathrooms need to reflect what we have become accustomed to in our existing homes. We may no longer need four bedrooms and bathrooms with 3000+ sq. ft. but we still want to entertain our families and friends. We want to have ‘away’ spaces where we can do our own chores and hobbies. This can be done in smaller spaces if they are well designed and thought out.

Some boomers will want to stay in busy urban centers, perhaps to be near their jobs or families or because of lifestyle choice. Others will be interested in a quieter location, perhaps in smaller cities or towns. Still others may decide to get back to the land and go into rural areas to live. The result is that governments at every level will need to be aware and involved in the planning of new developments, existing urban centers as well as the ‘gentrification’ of more rural areas, as boomers begin to spread out of the suburban centres they helped established.

Baby Boomers are evolving again. We are changing society through our numbers but also because we are vocal and demanding. The evolution in housing trends for boomers and retirement lifestyles is just beginning. It will impact cities and senior care for many decades to come, as we continue to journey through the adventure of life.


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Hans Taal

Hans Taal

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CENTURY 21 Miller Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage*
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