The Near Future Of Mobility

travel, cars

Aging and House Selling


As Baby Boomers reflect on the future of aging and driving, they will need to confront whether to age-in-place or sell the manse. Whether their house will be selling profitably and leave them equity, the so-called A.T.M. effect, will depend upon where it is located. In large urban areas, house prices have increased with growing demand. But, what is the outlook for far-flung suburbs where Baby Boomers once made the “drive to qualify?”

In earlier blogs, we noted that Millennials leaving San Francisco proper, are still settling in relatively close-in burbs. Burlingame, for example, is a preferred destination for families leaving San Francisco, because it has a BART connection and Caltrain. So, while gaining a single-family house and the white picket fence, new owners still have accessibility with public transportation.

A similar scenario is taking place far-away, on the Atlantic coast. A recent story in the Boston Globe called, “Millennial Movement,” notes that “as high costs push them farther out in the Boston suburbs, more young people are finding the lifestyle they prefer.” The reporter, Katheleen Conti, observes that young Bostonians are choosing to live beyond the dense areas of Cambridge, Somerville, and, Boston. The kicker, however, is their preference for inner suburbs.

According to data, these young Millennials are choosing to live in Massachusetts’s suburbs like Waltham, Brookline, Watertown, Framingham, and Shirley. In some of these areas, notably Waltham and Brookline, there are large universities nearby. But, what all of the locations have in common, including Shirley, is public transportation to Boston. (Shirley, an hour from Boston, has a total population of only 7,400).

In a closely related article, a chamber of commerce president from the near-in suburbs of Newton and Needham is quoted as saying that Millennials like a “bump factor.” That means they like the idea of running into friends and colleagues. So, housing with more communal-type spaces and buildings with big lobbies and Wi-Fi, is preferred.

Meanwhile, the president of a different Chamber of Commerce, in farther-out Burlington, is quoted too. He is trying to figure out how to arrange (shuttle) transportation so his region can attract workforce techies from Boston and Cambridge.

Baby Boomers who have homes in the inner suburbs have little to worry about. Unless tastes change, they should be able to use their home, when they retire, as the proverbial A.T.M. In other words, when they come to house selling- they should be fine-providing providing they can find a less expensive place to move to. Not all Millennials will choose to live in the city, and there is a growing trend to in-fill the inner suburbs. Perhaps some Millennials will discover towns beyond Shirley and public transportation. But, for Baby Boomers who have settled further out, the future is not clear. Until public transportation reaches their far-flung suburbs, “drive-to-qualify” homes may be going down.

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