Six emerging housing trends in 55+ living communities

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John Manrique
John Manrique

It's no secret that adults are living longer, healthier lives. When nearing retirement, they are preparing for a new, thriving chapter in their lives, which includes planning where to settle in and enjoy their golden years.  

Baby boomers and Gen-X members represent more than 30% of the housing market, with many seeking low-maintenance, single-family homes in traditional resort settings, mid-size cities and major metro areas. With the demand for age-restricted communities expected to continue to grow rapidly over the next decade, buyers increasingly will want places to live that offer comfortable homes and complement their active lifestyles. To keep pace with boomer needs, builders are constructing new active adult communities throughout the United States.

Below are the top six emerging trends in 55+ housing:

1. Proximity to medical facilities. Easy access to healthcare is a staple for older adults and a top priority when they select a new home to settle down in. Newer communities, such as Kolter Homes' Cresswind Charlotte, are within walking distance to major medical facilities.

2. Lifestyle amenities: Americans are living longer and healthier lives. Many new 55+ neighborhoods feature resort-style amenities such as state-of-the-art clubhouses, fitness centers, lap pools and walking trails. Neighborhoods also are hiring lifestyle directors for residents. People working in these positions facilitate social activities such as cooking and fitness classes, arts and crafts and resident gatherings.

3. Home personalization. Seniors want quality homes with modern finishes that they can live in comfortably. Homes that offer residents one-level floor plans, main floor owner's suites and guest suites for visitors are popular among builders. Seniors place a high value on personalization, according to Donna Seighman, design consultant for Cresswind homes. Tailored style and design finishes are important to the older homebuyer.

4. Cost of living. Many older adults, and retirees especially, are on fixed incomes. According to recent trends, the most popular place in the United States to retire or relocate to in preparation for retirement is the Southeast (54%), followed by the Southwest (19%) and the Northeast (10%). The demand for senior housing continues to grow in these regions, and specifically in Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas.

5. Area offerings. Those looking to settle down in homes designed for seniors still crave the offerings of a lively town with things to do. As such, 55+ communities are locating close to metropolitan areas, airports, restaurants and community centers. In recent years, retirees have flocked to college towns for access to continued learning opportunities, big-time sporting events and overall vibrancy. The senior housing market has followed suit, with several new offerings from small and large homebuilders.

6. Low-maintenance living. Active adult communities are offering low-maintenance advantages for residents. Those perks include items such as lawn care, trash pickup and security monitoring. Residents want fewer responsibilities to worry about, and many want the “lock-and-go” lifestyle, with little to no household maintenance. Homeowners' fees are covering items that residents want rather than unnecessary amenities or repairs from poor community planning.

With more boomers trending toward retirement each day, age-restricted neighborhoods are only going to get increasingly popular.

John Manrique is vice president of marketing for Kolter Homes. For more information on Cresswind communities, visit Cresswind.com.

McKnight's Senior Living welcomes marketplace columns on subjects of value to the industry. Please see our submission guidelines for more information.

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