Top Lifestyle Drivers for Boomer Buyers

Baby boomers say they will continue to work, retire later and want to stay in their homes. Enticing boomers who may be looking local for retirement to move from their existing home can be a hard sell. A community better suited to their 'aspirational'  lifestyle, however, can be a compelling reason. "Prospective buyers want a new community that supports or energizes their aspirations," said Deborah Blake, principal at The Ipsum Group. Homes, amenities and a lifestyle that foster more time to do what they want, with low-maintenance homes, social connections and wellness activities that make them healthier and happier, highlight what their current home and neighborhood don’t provide. Even if you may not build 55+ communities, it’s helpful to know what attracts buyers in this age demographic, as similar amenities within or around the local community may draw them to your projects. Here are some of the top draws:
  • Food. "Food is the new golf," Blake stated. "Experiences around food are meaningful and memorable." Communities are now including fully outfitted bars that residents can activate, for impromptu happy hours, wine tasting, or even guest chefs and cooking classes.  Food related events are the catalyst for social connections and community building.
  • Wellness. Recent research indicates that active adults feel happier and younger living in 55+ active lifestyle communities, with walking being the chief activity of choice. (NAHB’s "What Home Buyers Really Want" report notes 67% of baby boomers want walkable communities with walking or jogging trails.) Subscription-based, on-demand, video fitness training is also on the rise, Blake observed, to give residents the flexibility both in type and intensity of workouts and group classes without the overhead expense of having a dedicated trainer on staff.
  • Flexible hours. Because more boomers are continuing to work past the age of 65, they are looking for activities in the evenings and weekends. On-demand options, such as the bar and fitness options noted above, help address the need for more activity around the clock. Allowing early morning and late evening key or proximity card access to the fitness amenities is mandatory in modern 55+ active lifestyle communities.
One longtime staple of active-adult communities, however, has been losing some steam: golf courses. According to Blake, less than 25% of residents are interested in this amenity. With the highest price sensitivity to home owners association (HOA) fees, 55+ buyers only want to pay for what they use, so flexible, multipurpose amenities are more appealing. And for those who want to golf, nearby public courses fit the bill and provide more variety of play. "Maintenance [for gold courses] can cost around $1 million a year," she noted. With an eye toward fixed monthly incomes in retirement, "it’s not something people want to pay for anymore." Learn more about what baby boomers want — and don’t want — from NAHB’s "What Home Buyers Really Want" report. With three decades of real-life experience — 22 years with Del Webb and the last seven-plus years advising clients across the United States at The Ipsum GroupDeborah Blake is uniquely qualified to provide pragmatic advice in the areas of consumer research, community feasibility, visioning, amenity and lifestyle programming, branding, marketing, sales, residential product, and operations of 55+ targeted and age-qualified communities.

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