AGING IN SUBURBIA
“Welcome Home”- but where will home be in the future?
In my 2014 book, called “Aging In Suburbia: The Must-Have Conversation about Homes and Driving,” we look at the rocketing changes for real estate, driven by technology, transportation, and an aging population. Many Boomers have expected their homes to be a safe-haven and a financial investment, the latter an ATM to be tapped for retirement, in lieu of savings.
What is the outlook now as Boomers enter retirement? Boomers have had a mixed relationship with real estate, buying at double digit interest rates, seeing their properties greatly appreciate and then drop in value by 30% or more. The Baby Boomers and those older represent only one-third of the US population but they own close to 60 percent of the owner-occupied real estate. What are the trends after the housing crash for Boomers who wish to “age in place“?
Meanwhile, as people age, they are less able to drive safely. Today, 20 percent of the population over age 60 does not drive. Those numbers will increase if more people chose to age-in-place, as the Baby Boom generation lives in far-flung suburbs. About 70% of Boomers lack access to any form of public transportation. Housing and Transportation are intricately connected for Baby Boomers, as this is the first generation to age in these disconnected suburbs, beyond public transportation.
The Millennials, who grew up in the suburbs, will not want to be chauffeurs to the aging, and they are showing little inclination to return to a lifestyle centered around the car. Although many of them will live in suburbs and residential enclaves surrounding big cities, they are choosing communities where there are more transportation alternatives, like safe bicycle paths and access to rail or transit. These are denser communities, where there is more walking, and less driving.
This leaves the Boomers in a precarious situation. Technology is one of many drivers that will make the suburbs “no place for old men”, and we might add, older women too. On the other hand, smart phones and new technology may also make it more feasible to develop solutions for the aging population.
(available in both paperback and Kindle versions)